John Feinstein, an award-winning columnist and one of the nation’s most successful and prolific sports authors, has written over two dozen books to date including the bestselling A Good Walk Spoiled and A Season on the Brink. He talks to us today about his newest book, “The Walk On.”
How did you get into sports?
I was just one of those kids that was always addicted to sports. My Dad was actually in the performing arts and people have always said to me, “how does the son of someone who ran an opera company and ran the Kennedy Center grow up to be so fascinated and into sports. I guess the answer is my Dad was very passionate about what he did and I’m equally passionate just in a different direction. I was always a little wannabe jock. I played everything as a kid, I was a decent enough swimmer in high school to get recruited by colleges, but always loved the games, always loved going to the ballparks and the arenas, and when I wasn’t good enough to be a professional athlete, writing turned out to be my road to staying involved in sports when I was an adult. I’ve been very lucky to be able to do what I’ve done.
It must be exciting being among athletes when you love sports so much.
Well, when you do it for the first time, you’re a little bit awed, you’re a little bit amazed, you know. Here I am sitting court side at the ACC tournament or the NCAA tournaments, or sitting in the dugout before a post-season baseball game, or being on the sidelines at a big football game. And I hope, even all these years later, I haven’t lost the appreciation for how fortunate I am to get to do those things. I’ve always said that I get paid to do things that most people would pay to do. And you can’t be much luckier than that. I know there are people who say they’ve never worked a day in their life; I’ve worked a few days in my life. There have been some days that have been long and exhausting, but for the most part, I get up every day very excited about what it is that I’m going to be doing that day professionally.
You’ve written about so many different athletes and sports topics.
I was once a night police reporter at the Washington Post and Bob Woodward was my editor, and what I learned from Bob and from doing that job was that you don’t have to be rich and famous to have a story to tell. I’ve written about Tiger Woods, Bob Knight, and Mike Krzyzewski, and a lot of the big, truly big names in sports. But some of my most enjoyable experiences have been writing about people who weren’t rich or famous, like the football players at Army and Navy, or golfers going to PGA tour qualifying school, or basketball players in the patriot league, because I really think that everybody has a story to tell. Some are more fascination, some are more poignant than others, but I don’t think you have to look on television to find stories. I’ve looked in a lot of other places and I think I’ve been fortunate enough to find them.
John talks about his relationship with ESPN, his show “Season on the Brink,” and about his book, On the Brink.
Click here to hear the rest of the interview!