and this is the end — did I write as many positive columns as negative ones? Did I simply follow the pack, or did I try to guide it...
In the end — and this is the end — did I write as many positive columns as negative ones? Did I simply follow the pack, or did I try to guide it?
I hope in the future someone cares enough to check in with Chris Gobrecht at Yale, or Don James in the desert, or Mike Hargrove in Ohio. Or who appreciates the history and excellence of the rowing program at Washington.
Like a lot of businesses, The Times is cutting back this upcoming year. And that includes me.
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It ends the 25-year relationship I’ve enjoyed with readers, some who will be sad to see me go and others who will think it is time to clear stale air with new thoughts and ideas.
It’s clear I don’t fit with the angry, rush-to-judgment era of the Internet.
In the 1950s, when I first started working for newspapers, when we transmitted stories via Western Union and worked in the glare of flashbulbs, the concern for the industry was the emergence of television.
But people still wanted to read about a football game even though they’d seen it on television, and later saw it over and over again with instant replay.
There were still stories behind the stories, still good things in an otherwise bad season, still a perspective that comes from solid reporting and life experiences.
I was changed after covering the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City where I witnessed Bob Beamon long jump 29 feet and Tommie Smith and John Carlos thrust black-gloved fists in the air.
I would view Jake Locker differently because I had covered George Blanda and Dan Fouts and Billy Joe Hobert. And Barry Bonds because I had covered his father, Bobby Bonds.
Now we have the Internet where everyone is a columnist, where instant comment is as jarring as instant replay.
It was fun during the first years of my retirement from regular column writing to do the Sunday thing, to have, for example, the time to reflect on the 50th anniversary of the running of the 4-minute mile. To recall the great race in Vancouver between Roger Bannister and John Landy and later to locate Jim Bailey, the Aussie living in Canada, who ran the first sub-4 in the U.S.
I know, I know. Does anybody really care?
I think they do. I know I feel good for having remembered, in print, the anniversary of Steve Prefontaine’s death, even if I had to explain to people who he was. Of writing in the wakes of their passings about the robust high-school coaching career of Bainbridge Island’s Tom Paski, and of Bob Mathias, the two-time Olympic decathlon champion who was the greatest athlete I ever saw.
To have the time to talk with the remaining members of the UW crew that won a gold medal in the 1936 Olympics. While they still remained.
To wonder if Sahalee Country Club will ever get that PGA Championship it was promised or if the next major in the Northwest will be played instead at the stunning new Chambers Bay course near Tacoma.
For me, it was not simply enough to wail about the shortcomings of Tyrone Willingham as football coach at Washington without understanding the particular problems he faces.
Journalism is about asking questions others can’t or don’t.
It is about finding answers to problems, about critiquing, not just complaining.
Maybe, after all these years, I’m not as demanding as I need to be. I wasn’t bothered a few years ago when the Mariners’ Howard Lincoln and Pat Gillick said they’d rather have a decade of winning seasons than risk everything for one trip to the World Series.
It’s trite, I know, but I think we get so caught up in the final destination that we abandon the joy of the journey. Did we really enjoy the Mariners winning 116 games that year without Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez and Randy Johnson or did we dwell on the failure to get to the World Series?
In the frustration of losing, do we recognize the winners and appreciate the outcome might have more to do with what they did than what we didn’t do?
Can you have a good season when you don’t make the playoffs? Sure you can, if it was better than the one before it and promises to be better the year after.
Enjoy sports. Enjoy rowing as much as major-league baseball, enjoy the special people as well as the successful ones. Sometimes they are not the same.
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