SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Sunday, September 25, 2005

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

This great sports columnist would have been 100 today.

And what a writer he was, a fair man who called them like he saw them.

In the linked article, his son, an outstanding journalist in his own right, writes about what he and his sister, the famous writer's daughter, thought their father would have thought about sports today. I think that they got it right about their dad, Red Smith, and there are a few things that I would have added.

He wouldn't have liked the sportswriter as celebrity, and he also wouldn't have liked the conflicted role that ESPN sometimes plays, where on the one hand they tout a sport because they've committed big bucks to it, but on the other hand they try to cover it. And he certainly wouldn't have made himself the story, as some current "journalists" tend to.

There are outstanding writers today, and, no, I don't subscribe to the notion that they don't make 'em like they used to. Each generation produces its greats, and I, for one, feel privileged to have read Red Smith's columns as a younger man (as well as Dave Anderson's), and to have listened to Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn broadcasts of the Phillies' games.

Today, Harry Kalas remains a household name, while Red Smith's name has faded in memory (understandably, as he died 23 years ago).

That's a shame, because he was a Hall of Famer in his craft, and he would have taken a stand on the steroids issue and given his colleagues the courage to have done the same.

Which is what no current baseball writer did (to a degree, SI's Rick Reilly did, but he doesn't write as frequently as a daily newspaper's sports columnists).

So, let's remember Red Smith fondly and hope that those who write today honor the titans who preceded them.

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