As a Union College junior, Dave Ruden’s courses were filled with reading. So he took creative writing, just so he wouldn’t have to read more.
But the professor saw in Dave a writing talent the 1978 Staples grad had never seen in himself. The instructor encouraged Dave to write about his passion — sports — for the school paper.
“That was probably the worst journalism ever,” Dave recalls. But it launched him on a career in sports that took him to CBS, the New York Times and ESPN.
Now Dave is leaving the Stamford Advocate. He’s creating a blog — “The Ruden Report” — that he hopes becomes the go-to spot for Fairfield County sports fans.
His departure from the Advocate — where he has earned a reputation as a fair, sensitive, talented and insightful writer, specializing in high school sports — is amicable. He loves the paper; it has treated him well, allowing him to cover a wide variety of events (including the World Series and Final Fours).
But the paper’s sports coverage has shrunk — there are now 3 staff writers, down from 9 — and Ruden wants to delve into the human interest stories, profiles and commentary he loves. He’s seen the success of his “Overtime” blog — and he realizes print is not the only way to get news anymore.
This is the 2nd time Dave has left the Advocate for cyberspace. In 1997 — after working hard at his craft, teaching himself by writing often and reading masters like Dave Anderson and Red Smith — he joined ESPN as an online producer.
“It was the most miserable 6 months of my professional life,” he says. “I was hired to write, but they never let me.”
Back at the Advocate, he gravitated to high school sports.
“I love the FCIAC — the athletes, coaches and administrators,” Dave says, referring to the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference.
“I’ve developed close relationships with the people I cover. There’s nothing more satisfying than making a kid who will never play anything after high school feel special, or having someone tell me they’ve got my stories in their scrapbook.”
“The Ruden Report” debuts the 1st week of September. Dave will continue the popular Player and Team of the Week polls from his current blog. He’ll also host a weekly FCIAC football show, highlighting teams, players, coaches, even referees and trainers.
Though Dave is always objective, he holds a soft spot for his native Westport.
“It’s special. It’s my home,” he admits. “It’s where I picked up my love for soccer. I played as a sophomore, and probably missed more goals than anyone in Staples history. But I was proud to be in the locker room for Mr. Loeffler’s 200th victory as a coach.”
He calls Westport’s sports scene “very vibrant and diverse.” He points to success in so many different sports, and notes that youth sports are “huge. I played Little League and rec basketball. It’s great to see kids are still doing all that.”
Dave has always reached out to high school students. He advises 2 high school newspapers, and consults for a 3rd. He’ll keep doing that, and will also offer opportunities to high school photographers and videographers.
He’s lined up investors, but the business model is based on advertising. He’s developed a very loyal following, and is gratified that advertisers are signing up for “The Ruden Report.”
Readers are sure to follow. After 30 years here, Dave Ruden has developed a distinctive voice. He provides important insights, and a unique perspective on local sports.
Starting in September, it’s all available on a new, 24/7/365 platform.