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Around the Columns

The family beat

gabe and mike dearmond

Father-and-son sports scribes Gabe, left, and Mike DeArmond cover Mizzou athletics for and The Kansas City Star, respectively. Photo by Rob Hill

It is a fairly common origin story among sports journalists. Young, bright student harbors hoop dreams, when suddenly, the physical reality of athletic skill leaps up to swat the ball into the stands.

Such was the case for Mike DeArmond, BJ ’72, who was cut from the Joplin (Mo.) High School basketball team his sophomore year. Now he’s one of the most widely read regional sportswriters for The Kansas City Star.

“I wasn’t very good, and I was short,” says DeArmond, who handles the Mizzou beat and will retire in 2012 after 40 years of reporting. “It was a those-who-can’t-play-write-about-it kind of thing.”

Sports writing must have been genetic, because Mike’s son Gabe, BJ ’98, was single-minded about his journalistic goals.

“I was one of the people they yelled at on the first day of J-School: ‘If you’re just here to do sports, please get up and leave,’ ” says Gabe, who writes and edits, a site devoted to Tiger athletics. “I had no interest in news, and I didn’t do that well in my news classes. To this day, I don’t read it.”

His readers appreciate that kind of sports dedication. The DeArmonds have logged thousands of hours together in press boxes, locker rooms and stadium tunnels, and they have come to a conclusion: Nothing generates online interest quite like a coaching change.

“There’s nothing better for business and worse for a marriage,” says Gabe, only half joking about time spent covering Tiger turnover in the past decade.

Now, as Mike prepares to hang up his press pass and travel with his wife, Barbara, BS Ed ’72, will one of Gabe’s two sons — Taten, 14, and Turner, 9 — pick up the family mantle? Not likely.

 “The one who likes sports probably doesn’t want to do something like write for a living, and the one who might write for a living doesn’t like sports,” Gabe says. “He recently asked me in the third inning of a Royals game how much time was left.”