The Thompson Trophy

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^The legendary “Thompson Trophy”

I left Oxford last Sunday with a belt.

You know, one of those ostentatious ornaments that hug professional wrestlers’ waists. The plastic-gold, WWE trophy was somewhat a joke. I captured the belt in a game story contest that pitted my newspaper, the Maneater, against two other college newspapers, the Daily Mississippian and the Columbia Missourian.

Judging the contest: Emmy-award winning writer Wright Thompson. Humorously, Thompson facilitated the match between his hometown, Oxford, and his alma mater, Mizzou during the weekend that Ole Miss football took on Missouri.

Early Sunday morning, Thompson declared me the winner on Twitter and bequeathed a trophy belt to the Maneater.

The gaudy gift fits (no pun intended) the Maneater well. Often, the newspaper feels like the clichéd underdog in Columbia, Mo., vying for stories between the Missourian and the Columbia Tribune. The Maneater is like the little sibling, trying to make the most noise to earn respect. Clearly, the belt is a cheesy form of respect.

Now, I’m not here to boast about the belt. Really, it doesn’t matter what accolades the Maneater or any other newspaper accumulates. Really, the belt means more than that.

Wright Thompson is an awesome writer. But, I’ve been more impressed with his thoughtfulness. He often makes time to talk to college sports writers, traveling to Mizzou to speak. I’ve heard stories where he’s called high school kids to convince them to go to Mizzou. He even meets up with young writers for dinner.

Wright gave us the “Thompson Trophy” with one rule: We must pass it along to another Maneater writer.

Sports editor Jacob Bogage and I are still working out how and when we will award the belt. But one thing is for certain: the Maneater will not forget Wright Thompson’s kindness. The “Thompson Trophy” will forever be an award of accomplishment for future writers, but also an award of love for the craft.

I left Oxford last Sunday with a belt, but more importantly, a mission to award that belt to another Maneater writer.