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McGee’s back at it again

By ZOË WATKINS - zwatkins@t-g.com
Posted 5/23/23

Well, he’s back once again in the Shelbyville Times-Gazette newsroom.

With his long Nashville-based sports writing and sports media relations career, the Shelbyville native requires little …

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McGee’s back at it again


Well, he’s back once again in the Shelbyville Times-Gazette newsroom.

With his long Nashville-based sports writing and sports media relations career, the Shelbyville native requires little introduction to the community. But for those who may not be familiar with Mark McGee, he’s a valuable writer able to serve Shelbyville.

McGee’s career in sports writing began when he started at the Nashville Banner in 1981, two years after graduating from David Lipscomb University. He covered Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Tennessee State, the Nashville Sounds, and city colleges there.

During that time, McGee also earned a law degree from the Nashville School of Law, where he graduated in 1988. Though it took him seven years, he was also extensively traveling, writing, and meeting the deadlines for his sports writing. He became familiar with every law library in the Southeast and would even visit the library before heading out to a game to cover.

“It was crazy…But I got through it. I was determined to get through law school,” he said. “It was just a good overall education.”

A lifelong learner, McGee also has a master’s degree in conflict management, which he earned in 2017 from Lipscomb. He also holds a Knight Fellowship in “The Business of Sports” from the University of Maryland-College Park.

After ascending to a senior writer position at The Banner, McGee came back to Shelbyville to work as the Times-Gazette editor from 1994 until 2003. He then transitioned to director of athletic media relations for Lipscomb University, which he held through May 2017.

He also started teaching as an adjunct professor in the communications department at Lipscomb in the late 80s, a position he still holds.

Working with many up-and-coming, young journalists at the university, McGee said he sees a few differences in the journalism world then versus now.

At one time, sports writing was nicknamed the “toy department” because most coverage included only games and — what some might say — not serious journalism.

Today, it’s more investigative as many journalists serve as the watchdogs for what’s going on. At one time, that kind of information was completely off the record, according to McGee.

McGee admits that he was known to be a “nasty reporter” or a “bulldog.” If he saw or heard something of value, he went after it.

“That was something I really prided myself in, breaking stories,” he said.

Though, today, breaking stories isn’t what it used to be as social media blurs the origins of the news story typically. And today the “accessibility” to players and coaches is more difficult.  

Back in the day, locker rooms were more open while writers traveling with teams was common. This accessibility led McGee to cover events in places like Alaska or Canada and Japan.

“The big-league level, it gets real intoxicating. We traveled, first class, and ate well…It was an addiction,” he said. Plus, he developed relationships with many people, both good and bad. 

His lifetime work has paid off. McGee was announced as one of the newest members inducted into the Tennessee Sports Writers Association’s Hall of Fame in July of 2022. He is also a four-time presenter at the Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. He made his first appearance as a presenter at the NINE Spring Training Symposium in Tempe, Arizona earlier this year.

He was also a national first-place recipient and a national second-place recipient with College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA.)

With all that, McGee says none of his career was planned. With a smile, he says, “It was a great life. I’d get paid to go to baseball games all day. I’d wake up, go to workouts, see a game in the afternoon, then write at night. Can’t beat that. It was the fun of doing things,” he said. “Every day was different.”