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We do have plenty to be thankful for as sports fansPosted Tuesday, November 23, 2010, at 11:18 PM
With the upcoming trip to the Thanksgiving table on the very near horizon, I decided it was a good time to reflect and be thankful. After all, isn't that what it's all about?
First of all, I'm thankful that I get the opportunity to do one of the most interesting, fun and likely enviable jobs in the world.
How many people can say first off, that they truly love what they do.
You could probably take a secret poll of all of the people in all of the world and you would likely get a satisfaction rate that is somewhere in the middle.
But for those of us who are granted the opportunity to be sports writers -- at any level -- we get to take something we enjoy and turn it into a vocation.
My late father Henry, who was never a sports fan, tried as he might for a long time to see the reasons for my enjoyment of my job.
Finally Dad admitted to me one day out of the blue that he understood.
He looked at me and said "I didn't think about it too much, but I finally realize that you like what you do and that's probably the most important thing."
Then he admitted that he would never really enjoy sports to the level I did, but that he was glad I took it and turned it into something useful.
"If you're not happy with what you do, you will be miserable," my Dad said. "And if you're miserable, you won't be very good at what you do."
Next I am thankful for the people who, through the course of my life, inspired me to become a writer -- and to those who have had an influence on me as a writer.
They might sound like they are one in the same, but they are not.
It's a distinctly different group of people whom I have taken various things from and turned them into my own.
And while some of them -- likely most or all of them -- will never read the words meant to be a tribute to them, I am still thankful for them.
There were three teachers during my days at Vincennes Lincoln High School who had a direct impact.
First there was Mrs. Dix who taught me how to type, Mr. Stevenson who taught me not to be afraid to wish for something more and there was Mr. Siner who let me express myself.
Of those three one is retired, one has moved on to another field and the other was still -- at last information -- a guidance counselor.
Next there are two writers who have had the greatest influence on me. They have both taught me valuable lessons and given me guidance.
The first is a man named Bob Mays.
Our paths intertwined when I was working in Atlanta.
Bob had been the Alabama beat writer at the Birmingham paper for many years and had earned honors such as the Alabama Sports Writer of the Year.
Bob taught me how to really write a sports story, how to dissect and unfold the layers. How to dig into a players mind and get the underlying pieces of the puzzle that was a story.
Mays taught me that the best perspective to a story is the one that no one else can perceive. Then he went about trying to teach me how to translate it.
I hope I've transferred those words of teaching to my own work. And all though I may never reach the heights professionally that Bob did, I can certainly strive to achieve them.
The other was a man who many of you have probably read, Richard Azar.
Rich is a very headstrong, very insightful and very stubborn person. But he has a touch of velvet when it comes to putting words in a newspaper.
His ability to write is only surpassed by his ability to interpret things in a unique style, a style that once you are exposed to it, you never forget it.
Rich taught me how technical things about writing, technical things I never considered prior. He also encouraged and tactfully criticized without being harsh or offensive.
Next I am thankful for the person who gave me a chance to become a sports writer, when I wasn't even sure I was capable of being a sports writer.
Her name is Janet Archer and she was the co-owner of the North Knox Leader along with Laurie Patelle. Janet also happens to be my wife Donna's best friend from high school and a person that I now consider as close to me as a sister.
Janet had written a story about a North Knox football game and asked me for a critique. As I read through the story I realized that Janet had no overwhelming knowledge of sports.
She, in fact, had forgotten to mention the score anywhere in the story. A thing I still harass her about today.
It was then that she decided I should write the sports and the rest is history.
Next I am thankful for my family that has saw fit to stand beside me as I dragged them through the life of a sports writer and a sports writer's family without much complaining.
Last but not least, I am thankful for one final group -- the athletes, coaches and fans of the teams I cover.
Without them I could not be in the greatest job in the world.
So I guess that includes you the reader. Thanks.
Rick is a sports writer for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at (812) 847-4487 ext. 20 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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