THESE AREN'T THE DAYS: SPORTSWRITERS LAMENT THEIR CRAFT
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).