NSSA Honors Peter King, Dan Patrick With Yearly Honors; Vitale, Albom Into HOF
The National Sportscasters & Sportswriters Association last night held its annual HOF banquet at Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C., naming SI’s PETER KING Sportswriter of the Year and NBC’s DAN PATRICK Sportscaster of the Year. The evening also featured the induction of ESPN’s DICK VITALE and the Detroit Free Press’ MITCH ALBOM into the NSSA HOF. ESPN Exec Chair GEORGE BODENHEIMER was on hand to introduce Vitale, speaking of how his relationship with the famous basketball announcer dates back 32 years to when Bodenheimer was Vitale’s driver at ESPN. Bodenheimer quipped that Vitale used to sit in the front seat next to him and scour through endless newspapers looking for any mention of his name, often finding none. Vitale’s contributions to charity -- specifically his work with the Jimmy V Foundation, raising more than $10M for the organization to date -- was the theme for his acceptance speech. Detroit Free Press Sports Editor GENE MYERS introduced Albom, saying the noted columnist and author “bleeds every word, every time.”
CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES: The evening was full of celebrations, as yesterday was King's 56th birthday, while Vitale turned 74 on Sunday. Also at the event, Catawba College President BRIEN LEWIS announced that the school is establishing HQs for the NSSA on its campus, set to open this summer. New presentations at this year's event included awards named after NBC's BOB COSTAS and retired Boston Globe columnist BOB RYAN to honor high school sportscasters and sportswriters. Overall, there were over 100 men honored as state Sportswriter of the Year or Sportscaster of the Year, but only one woman was distinguished with the honor, as Barre-Montpelier Times Argus Sports Editor ANNA GREARSON was named Vermont's Sportswriter of the Year.
EVOLUTION OF SPORTS MEDIA: Albom used his acceptance speech to discuss the changing landscape of the media industry, saying, “Today unidentified internet snipers post the ugliest of comments in the same space once reserved for people who studied and honored the craft of newspaper writing. ... There is a reason journalists study and work hard, and have to assign their name to their work. It’s because you earn the right to be under that newspaper masthead. It should be difficult and precious. Sharing that space with BallsKicker69@yahoo.com is simply not right.” He urged writers to “maintain the attitude that you’re lucky to have this job, because most readers would die three times just to go into a locker room.” Albom: “We need to keep a sense of wonder in our work. Not hero worship, but wonder.” Meanwhile, King during his acceptance speech spoke of the impact of social media, stressing the platform is “sort of obliterating the whole fact-checking process in our business these days.” He added, “We all need to be more versatile. You can’t just be a one-trick pony anymore. There’s so many important issues. But the one thing I would like to leave you with is I think we are at our best when we really show our love for our jobs, and we go out there and we have great enthusiasm.”