When I interviewed BU guard John Holland last month, he asked me what I wanted to do with my degree in sports journalism. In light of my recently acquired WEEI internship, I thought I might devote an article to answering that very question.
Here are ten things I want to do before my career is over. Some are sillier, others are loftier, but these are my answers:
- I want to write with Gene Weingarten’s humor, Jackie MacMullan’s gentle intelligence, Malcolm Gladwell’s insistence, and Michael Lewis’ comprehensiveness, all at once.
- I want to go the Olympics and find a story no one’s ever told before. Forget Michael Phelps. A thousand writers will write about him. Bring on an archer from Thailand who developed an after-school archery program that has cut violent crime figures in his city in half.
- I want to bring down the IOC and FIFA, finally exposing them as the corrupt, elitist and possibly racist organizations that they are. Then I want to cover how the new organizations running the Olympics and World Cup are so superior that it’s stupefying we didn’t dissolve them sooner.
- When we start using gravity manipulation in strength training, I want to cover the first 700-foot home run,
- I want to cover a sold-out New York Knicks game, then watch a sold-out Oilhead show at Madison Square Garden 24 hours later. I’ll expect a backstage pass for that, by the way.
- When I’m done writing game stories at 2 AM, I want to run a nationally syndicated radio talk show that has the widespread appeal of “Dennis & Callahan” and the intelligence of NPR’s “Only a Game.” And I want to be able to hire 30 young journalists to work for me instead of the five “Only a Game” has.
- I want Ultimate (Frisbee) to become the next million-dollar-salary professional sport, and I want to be its first beat reporter. And I want my Ultimate stories published on ESPN.com and in Sports Illustrated.
- I want to be the next Buzz Bissinger. I want to find the town in California where volleyball means as much as football does in Texas. I want to cover that team for a year and write the deepest, most nuanced, most complete volleyball story ever told. And I want it to win the Pulitzer fucking Prize.
- I want something I write to be published in a volume of the “Best American Sports Writing” series. Then, after I’ve kicked the bucket, I want it to appear in the “Best American Sports Writing of the 21st Century,” so some jackass 20-year-old budding reporter can download it into his brain or however it is kids will learn in 2105.
- Whatever sport I wind up covering, I want to be elected to its writers’ Hall of Fame, then its actual Hall of Fame. And then I’ll tell the story of how I got there.
As a final thought, I’d like to share one of my all-time favorite quotes. It comes from “Transmetropolitan,” a comic series written by Warren Ellis and published by DC Comics through its adult-oriented “Vertigo” imprint. The main character, Spider Jerusalem, is Hunter S. Thompson, transplanted into a future that is every bit as zany as Thompson ever was. Given a world that can match Thompson blow for crazy blow, the main character’s only recourse is to become even crazier. Do more drugs. Get in more fights. Write with more ire and bile.
Such actions lead Jerusalem into conflict with the various politicians he encounters, most importantly Gary Callahan, called the Smiler, who is elected President of the United States at the end of the first major arc. Jerusalem sets out to bring down the Smiler as he brought down the previous president (called the Beast), but at one point the Smiler ruins Jerusalem’s entire investigation.
Enter Mitchell Royce, editor at the Word, Jerusalem’s newspaper. Jerusalem has made Royce’s life hell for his entire professional career, but Royce so believes in Jerusalem that he continues to stick by him, even as Jerusalem constantly mocks him.
As Jerusalem is on the verge of utter emotional breakdown due to his destroyed investigation, Royce gives him a backup file that contains Jerusalem’s entire file. He gloats for a bit, then leaves to catch a cab. The cabbie asks him, “Where to, buddy?”
“Now there’s a question,” Royce says. “First, I want to walk into a bar and drink it. And then I’m going to start a fight with five men and win. And then I am going to make use of a truly staggering number of prostitutes. Some of whom I may have once been married to. Following which, I will buy drugs. I will, in fact, show them a large pillowcase, and tell them to fill it with drugs. And I’m putting all on the goddamn expense account.”
I want do that, too.