Al Butler

Finding success in the Miami, FL sports scene

By Ross Tague
CAS Intern
Al Butler

With a passion for sports, Al Butler isn’t afraid to shoot high.

During his time at Miami, the 2011 journalism grad always kept a list of names taped to the wall of the biggest athletes that he thought he would be able to interview. Through hard work and motivation he has crossed off a number of them, but the list continues to grow.

Butler is a sports editor for United Press International in Miami, Florida. He’s responsible for editing and optimizing national and international sports stories that come in for the UPI website. Additionally, he covers South Miami beat for the Miami Herald and does freelance work with what time he has left in the day. Butler produces his own original sports content, including interviews with famous athletes.

“Whenever a team comes to play the Miami Dolphins,” Butler said, “I go to the visiting locker room most of the time, and I interview the polarizing players on the other teams.” He sees an opportunity to get more page views for his articles with the visiting teams, as that will create more of a national story.

Butler has always had his eye on the big picture. As a self-proclaimed “writing addict” he devotes his time to his work and typically produces eight to 10 articles a day, seven days a week. His dedication to sports journalism has gotten him hundreds of thousands of pageviews on his articles.

Such a passion for sports goes back a long way for Butler. He grew up in Cincinnati going to Reds games with his family, loving the atmosphere of the stadium. He attributed his initial love for sports to going to the games.

“I loved that personal connection with all the players,” Butler said. “I got into college and I knew I wanted to be around sports.”

When Butler got to Miami University, he soon became involved in the Miami Student. He was unafraid to go after what he wanted, and he quickly established himself as a seasoned sports writer. On multiple occasions, Butler had every article in the sports section of the paper.

“I was notorious for writing way too many articles,” Butler said. “I loved getting the experience and getting the bylines.”

Butler says he couldn’t have gotten to where he is without taking advantage of the experience of the journalism department faculty.

Joe Sampson, one of Butler’s favorite teachers, shared his memories of having him in class. “I had Al in several classes including a public radio reporting capstone,” Sampson said. “In these classes as well as his work at area internships and student media, Al distinguished himself as a hard-working, determined and thoughtful writer and reporter. I don't recall a student who produced more bylines for various publications. Al took advantage of every opportunity in and out of the classroom.”

During his time in college, Butler was able to attain multiple internships which led him to exciting opportunities. He recalled an assignment he received his senior year in which he had to write a feature article on a Miami athlete. Having been so involved in Miami sports already, Butler “wasn’t interested in the actual parameters of the assignment.” He took it upon himself to utilize his contacts from his internship at the Dayton Daily News to acquire locker room passes to a Bengals game. Butler was able to interview Chad Johnson, then wide receiver for the Bengals. In doing so, Butler was able to cross a name off of the list of athletes on his wall.

Since that interview, Butler has gone on to interview numerous other impressive athletes. His most recent favorite interview was an exclusive with golfer Jack Nicklaus. Butler also ranks an interview with retired running back Arian Foster towards the top of his list.

It took a lot of time and dedication to get to where Butler is today. As he achieves more success, he sets his sights higher and higher. He described how the scale of what he is doing continuously changes and gets bigger.

Butler shared a final word of advice for aspiring journalists. “Get your hands dirty and write as much as possible. Interview as many people as possible, and talk to as many types of personalities as possible. Just don’t be stagnant. Go out there and go after what you want.”