Thursday, January 27, 2005

Speaking of Tony Kornheiser...

Mr. Kornheiser has been one of my favorite sports columnists, but I have to agree with this article by Steven Rodrick in Slate, which says TV (specifically ESPN) is destroying the newspaper sports page. As much as I love Tony on the radio and ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption," they take him away from writing, which is what got him those gigs in the first place. And it's not just Tony. Sportwriters in every big city have a radio show now, or appear on ESPN (or even FOX Sports Net). I'm going to sound like a curmudgeon, shaking his fist from the porch, but I remember when having a column in a major metropolitan newspaper was the big thing. Now, it's a stepping stone.

As a kid, my writing idol was Mitch Albom. I wanted to be a sports columnist, just like him. I eagerly read every one of his columns in the Detroit Free Press (along with the paperback "Live Albom" collections). But then Mitch started doing radio. First, it was a Sunday night sports talk show on Detroit's old WLLZ. Then he did segments with the morning show. Soon, the Sunday show got bigger, and moved to WJR. Eventually, that became a daily, drive-time program. Mitch also appears most Sunday mornings on ESPN's "Sports Reporters." That doesn't leave much time for writing. (Of course, Tuesdays with Morrie brought Albom a whole new level of success and notoriety, along with a new focus, but let me stay on topic.)

I certainly don't begrudge Albom (or any of the other writers who traded up for radio and TV gigs) for capitalizing on his accomplishments. Who wouldn't do the same thing? I would kill (well, maybe just maim) for that kind of success. Hell, with this blog, I'm still pretending to be Mitch Albom. But I miss those columns. I miss the feeling of excitement whenever Mitch wrote a new one. I'd love the left side of the sports page to give me that tingle again someday.