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Interview with Rick Telander

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Yesterday, I had a chance to talk with one of my favorite Chicago sports columnists Rick Telander. Telander currently is a sports columnist for the Sun-Times, but has worked for Sports Illustrated, and written several books including Heaven is a Playground and The Hundred-Yard Line. He also worked for ESPN, and appeared on several shows and radio programs throughout the years. And in 2006, he was named the Illinois Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. I want to thank him again for doing this interview for me, I really appreciate it.

ELI: When did you first become a journalist?


RICK: After college. I graduated from Northwestern University and began freelance writing. I mostly wrote about myself, about my time at the Kansas City Chiefs training camp.

ELI: Do you have any specific day-to-day duties as a journalist?


RICK: Not really. I don't ever have to go to the Sun-Times building. That is the beauty of laptops. I work wherever I want.

ELI: You write four columns a week, how do you choose what to write about?


RICK: It is usually what I am interested in. But, I have to keep readers interested. I have to mix it up, have variety. If there is a huge event, or scandal, I'll write about that. A present day example would be Marion Jones because she just got sentenced.

ELI: How do you go about asking for rumors or news?


RICK: To be honest, I do not like doing it. I think it is very awkward. There is always betrayal involved. Because someone will tell you something and then you use it, and then their reputation is ruined. I get a feeling of empathy, like how would you feel if you were talking to someone and then they used everything you said?

ELI: What would you say is the best story you have ever covered?

RICK: I have to think back with this one. Probably the late eighties, at the University of Oklahoma. Players on the football team were going to jail, shooting each other in the dorms. I co-wrote the article but to be on campus and investigate made it a great to write.
ELI: Do you have a favorite sport?

RICK: I've always loved basketball and football. But I love the Olympics when they roll around every four years.

ELI: Where do you see the Cubs and Sox finishing this year?

RICK: Not at the top. But I am not big on predicting. As a player, I didn't like when people said they will definitely win or lose.

ELI: What would you say is the best game you have ever been too?

RICK: The best game probably is the 2002 National Championship game between Ohio St. and Miami. Maurice Clarett had an amazing game, it went into double over time. It was a great game. But there are a number of Michael Jordan games that I've been to that were amazing as well.