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THESE AREN'T THE DAYS: SPORTSWRITERS LAMENT THEIR CRAFT
Published January 30, 1998
The state of sportswriting is examined by Bob Drury of MEN'S JOURNAL, who writes that it "has become a dead-end job, the buggy-whip profession of the twenty-first century. Fiber optics are killing it." Boston Globe Sports Editor Don Skwar, on today's athletes: "They don't need us as much as they need ESPN or Nike. Their time is not our time." N.Y. Times sports columnist Harvey Araton: "Sportswriters today are like whiskey. We get blamed for a lot of things we didn't do." Araton, on the inaccessibility of players: "Now you're never allowed into practice with them. They've all got charters, so you're not on the plane. You're left with a choice: gangbang press conferences or grabbing whatever tidbits you can as athletes flee the locker room toward the team bus. ... Today, there's just such a difference between us and them that the only way to pierce the veil is to, essentially, be a TV partner. Ahmad Rashad wants to do a puff piece on Michael Jordan? Fine. Ahmad won't hurt him. Hell, he's the host of Jordan's off-season sales tour. Otherwise, [NBA Commissioner David] Stern doesn't want reporters around" (MEN'S JOURNAL, 2/98 issue). CIRCUS CIRCUS: The Globe's Skwar, on the depth and breadth of coverage: "It's true, we're not driving the beast, the beast is already driven. It's driven by Entertainment Tonight and Hard Copy and talk radio and a coverage of gossip that sometimes, I admit, I find absolutely ridiculous. I shudder when I look back and see some of the unsavory things we did during the Tonya Harding- Nancy Kerrigan affair. Making a reporter stand all night in Kerrigan's driveway. Jeez." In a sidebar, MEN's JOURNAL takes an informal poll to determine the top sportswriters in the U.S. Twenty-one are named (MEN'S JOURNAL, 2/98 issue). ON THE BEAT: WASHINGTONIAN magazine reports that Washington Post sports columnist Michael Wilbon was offered more than $300,000 and a signing bonus to go to the Chicago Tribune. He remained at the Post, and in doing so may "have topped $200,000" in his annual salary (WASHINGTONIAN, 2/98).