SBJ/April 9-15, 2012/People and Pop Culture
David Willey, Runner's World editor-in-chief
Published April 9, 2012, Page 30
|Willey is the “running reporter” for the ING New York City Marathon.
■ An insight: Print isn’t dead. I swear I was saying that four years ago, too. Business models and distribution platforms are evolving quickly and radically. But plenty of people still love and want to read magazines.
■ An influential person in my career: Charlie Hufford, a college friend and fellow Michigan Wolverine fanatic. He was killed in a car accident during our junior year, and speaking at his memorial taught me the emotional power of words. I didn’t quite realize it at the time, but that’s when I decided I wanted to be a writer.
■ A sports event: The Boston and New York City marathons. They’re unique in their own ways but both are a thrilling mix of sublime athletes (a 2:03 in Boston last year?!), huge, knowledgeable crowds, and citizen runners with their own goals and causes.
■ A trend: The continued and remarkable growth in road races in America, especially in the marathon (518,000 finishers last year, a 47 percent increase since 2000) and the half-marathon (1.6 million finishers last year, a 234 percent increase since 2000).
■ A fantasy job: Center field for the Red Sox.
What I Like About …
■ My job: Finding and telling great stories, and bringing new runners and cyclists into “the pack.” And getting to run or ride just about every day — and legitimately call it work.
■ Sports: They are pure and simple fun — but also so much more than that. They are a great way to bond with people, either as fans or teammates. … And to paraphrase the late George Sheehan, sports are a way to see who you are. They provide a theater for heroism.
■ Competing: I still think of myself as an athlete, and will always want to. My only competitive outlets these days are road races. I love the butterflies I get at the starting line (which mean I’m about to do something worthwhile) and the endorphin-rich, empty-tank postrace exhilaration I feel the rest of the day. In between, I push myself — and my fellow runners push me — out of my comfort zone, something we all need in order to grow.
■ The future (or direction) of sports business: Fans will continue to get closer to the action, both virtually and literally. What if I could really “feel” what it’s like to chase down a fly ball in Fenway Park? (See “Fantasy Job” above).
■ Sports fans: Their insatiable desire to be amazed.
What I’d Like To …
■ Change: More people commuting by bicycle. Also, if universities and the NCAA make so much money from athletics, athletes should be paid something.
What I Don’t Like …
■ Pet peeve: Constantly mistyping M and N on my iPhone.
■ In sports: LeBron-like narcissism.
■ In business: Dishonesty.
What I Like …
■ That would surprise those who know me: Colleagues in the running industry probably wouldn’t guess that I played football in college (albeit Division III, and as my coach, Dick Farley, used to say, “There ain’t no Division IV.”) Also, I have never run with the bulls.
■ Teams: The Red Sox and Michigan Wolverines.
■ Possession: My uncle Doug’s Hamilton wristwatch, which my aunt gave me after he died when I was young. I still wear it every day.
■ Music: Varies widely, but I grew up on Springsteen. I’ll also use this space to crow about radio (or, as it’s known today, audio). I grew up listening to Bob Ufer announcing Michigan football games and Ernie Harwell doing Tigers games, and I still love listening to baseball.
■ Authors: Dickens, Thomas McGuane, Richard Ford, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Price.
■ IPad app: I’m spending more and more time with Flipboard and the Atavist.
■ Movie: My favorite is “Diner,” which is tangentially about sports (the Alan Ameche question!).
■ Concert: The Springsteen show I’ve somehow never seen — yet.
■ Dessert: Chocolate cake.
■ Singer: My wife, Kira, who writes and records amazing kids’ music that parents love listening to, as well (no more Wiggles!).
■ Quote: “If we did all of the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.” — Thomas Edison