Conversations with greats, free golf and forever-lasting memories
So you want to be a sports writer?
Who wants to do this job? Mind you, your neighbor's teenager will probably drive a nicer car than yours, you will work EVERY WEEKEND OF YOUR LIFE, and you will have to pray your spouse or significant other understands.
Who wants to be paid to be 10 years old, watching games and keeping stats? Who wants to ask questions to hall-of-fame high school coaches (Joe Petricca, Kirby Smith, Perry Peterson, Frank Mattucci, Pat Ambrose, Dave Proffitt, Andy Bitto, Bill Mitz, Randy Kuceyeski, Todd Parola, Don Sutherland, Dennis Kessel, Chuck Gandolfi, Chuck Ramsey, John Stanczykiewicz, Jim Panther, Tom Dineen, Fritz Kazlausky, Tom Maple, Lee Oler)? Who wants to ask questions to great high school athletes (Kyle Kessel, Dan Pohlman, Riley Lees, Jalen Brunson, Brittny Ellis, Sarah Boothe, Brandon Paul, A.J. Fish, DaVaris Daniels, Kevin Malisheski, Kayla Wedl, any Marchese)? Who wants to cover kids who later become great pro athletes (Jalen Brunson, Paul DeJong, Anthony Castonzo)? Who wants to attend a private NFL Draft party for a player (the polite and cool Anthony Castonzo) selected in the first round?
Who wants to stand next to legends (Michael Jordan, Walter Payton, Brian Urlacher, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Kris Bryant, Manny Ramirez) and ask a question to them?
Who wants to sit in a press box, be fed and park your car next to the stadium? All for free.
Who wants to lace up your skates sitting next to the son of a former Blackhawks captain (Keith Magnuson), talk to him about his late, great dad, and then skate laps with him at Wrigley Field during Winter Classic week?
Who wants to play 18 holes with a Super Bowl champ (Jay Hilgenberg), a World Series champ (Rollie Fingers) and one of the greatest hockey men you'll ever meet (Gene Ubriaco)? Who wants to tee off on a par 3 with U.S. Open champs (Gene Littler, Billy Casper, Orville Moody, Lou Graham)?
Who wants to have a Super Bowl champ (Jim Morrissey) always come up to you at a game and say hello because you covered his wonderful kids in high school?
Who wants to be mentored by brilliant editors who are even better men (Dan O'Shea, Dan Manoyan, Kevin Reiterman, Rich Martin, Dwayne Heidtbrink, Bob Frisk, Aaron Gabriel)?
Who wants to be teammates with top-of-their-game sports journalists (Bill McLean, Kevin Schmit, Jerry Fitzpatrick, Marty Maciaszek, Barry Rozner, Lindsey Willhite, John Leusch, John Dietz, John Lemon, Orrin Schwarz, Dave Oberhelman, Bob LeGere, Bruce Miles, Scot Gregor, John Radtke, Mike McGraw, Trish Babcock, Mike Imrem, Mike Spellman, Tim Sassone), stealing a little from each?
Who wants to be invited to golf media days, where you will play a championship course, are given a cap, shirt and dozen Titleist Pro V1's, and be fed? All for free.
Who wants to kick back and talk one on one to a former world No. 1 tennis player who talks with colorful language and is flat-out cool (Mats Wilander)?
Who wants to finish up a story, while having a cold drink, with the best sports columnist in Chicago (Barry Rozner), play 18 with him while puffing on a cigar, talk family with him an hour before kickoff at Soldier Field?
Who wants to write about the kid who had the best game of his or her life and you were there to cover it?
Who wants to both laugh and get choked-up while having a courageous young athlete (Peter Herchenbach, Ryan Jackson, Kariann Hill, Abby Tonkery) share their story about fighting cancer, and then trust you'll get it right?
Who wants to get a text message from an athlete you covered nearly 20 years ago, who had a tough college experience, thanking you for always being kind to him?
Who wants to pick the brains and converse with athletic directors, administrators and athletic trainers, all of whom are much smarter than you?
Who wants to go on Chicago TV and be interviewed by an all-star news anchor (Hosea Sanders, Judy Hsu, Terrell Brown, Tanja Babich)?
Who wants to be on the ice, craning your neck to see 24,000 fans screaming, when the hockey team you rooted for as kid hoists the Stanley Cup?
Who wants to be given a voice by a big media publication to inform, educate and entertain readers?
Please note -- and this is important -- if you want to be a sports writer, you have to know how to read and write. Sometimes, the writing is on the wall, and you have to read it. Sometimes, it says it's time to for a writer to write the next chapter of his professional life, with no regrets, grateful for everyone who has ever given him a minute of their time.
Who would want to be a sports writer for 30 years?