Thursday, December 9, 2010

My Interview w/ Howard Schlossberg

Howard Schlossberg is a Sports Journalist and professor at Columbia College Chicago who teaches Sports Reporting. 
  Inside of Mr. Schlossberg’s office, there are many pictures of sports related postings hanging all over the walls. There were many pictures of past Sports Illustrated covers and newspaper clippings of Chicago sports pages. Then I noticed an old picture that was hanging up of Mr. Schlossberg and another guy that looked so familiar to me. When I asked him who it was I got a simple reply, “That’s Kevin Johnson. He played for the (Phoenix) Suns.” Awesome. As I was waiting to shoot off my first question, there was a long silence in the room because I was waiting for him to finish some work he was already doing. Then finally he says, “Okay. Fire away girlfriend.”

BA: How did you get started in Sports Journalism? What steps did you take?

HS: I wanted to be a sports journalist from the time I was eight years old. I was always encouraged that my writing was good so I kept writing. All the way through high school, college, writing anything just to make my writing better. And I always had sports interests so, that was the easy part.

BA: What sport did you like the most?

HS: The sport I liked the most was the sport I also played, which was football.

BA: Wow. What position did you play?

HS: Quarterback, High school and college. So, I put my knowledge into good use.

BA: What school did you go to?

HS: I didn’t go to school in Illinois. I went to school in New York.

BA: Did you ever think about going pro?

HS: (laughs) No. Not a chance!

BA: Not a Peyton Manning huh?

HS: I was gonna be a pro-writer, not a pro quarterback.

BA: What were some of the best and worst moments in your sports reporting?

HS: (sighs) Some of the best and worst moments happen at the same time. The worst moment is when you’re standing outside covering a high school football playoff game, and the temperature is about 2 degrees and you’re bundled up in every layer you could possibly imagine because you want to be on the field taking notes, watching the game, observing everything up close and first-hand. You’re freezing to death but it turns out being an exciting game and you get a great story out of it. So, there’s the best and worst moment all at the same time.

BA: You ever been tackled on the sidelines?

HS: In all my years of doing this, which is 30, I’ve been knocked over once.

BA: Wow.

HS: And that wasn’t even by a player either. That was by somebody who was hit by a player and then knocked the guy into me.

BA: It looks painful watching it on TV, seeing the ball carriers getting tackled.

HS: I’ve been getting hit playing football all my life. It’s not painful.

BA: What’s the difference between being on TV and writing?

HS: Oh there’s a big difference! You still have to have the same knowledge base and the same talent base as a journalist. I think, that’s not different. When you’re live on TV you can’t take it back, there’s no time for second thought. Ok, boom. Whether you’re doing play-by-play, color analysis, or pre/post game analysis in the studio, or if you’re the sideline reporter it doesn’t matter. There’s no second chance if you screw up. In print obviously you’re on deadline, sure, but you can take your time, be more in depth, more analytic, be more interpretive, be a little more creative, even you don’t need the film of the actual action of the game to be the creative support for you. You have this (points to head) for your creative support and if you use it right, it comes out right.

BA: Is the salary different?

HS: Nah. I don’t think it’s as different as most people think. I think just on TV, the guys who are making the most money, the upper echelon guys who are so well known okay, and it may seem there’s a lot ‘em but there’s not. There are only few of ‘em who are making gazillions of dollars.

BA: What kind of advice do you have for me, being an aspiring sports journalist?

HS: You want to be a sports journalist huh?

BA: Yes.

HS: Start writing now. Ok? Start writing a blog about how you feel about sports, about what you see going on in sports, not just on the field and on the court but off the field. There is so much sport news off the field now with collective bargaining agreements, guys getting arrested all the time, getting big money contracts, free agency and the whole Lebron James thing and players tweeting before and after the game. There’s so much going on you know, you got to understand all this stuff and the fans expect you to understand it, and you better understand it better than they do so you can explain it to them, because they don’t have a clue! So, in order to be a good sports journalist, you have to know more than about sports, you can’t just report on the game. It ain’t about the game anymore.

BA: So as a journalist, I should learn about the BUSINESS.

HS: I don’t think you have a choice. You have to be able to explain to your fans of the team you are covering why the team couldn’t go sign the high-priced free agent. Ok. Because they’re up against the salary cap, they couldn’t afford it. Yeah, you have to know all of that stuff too.

BA: Well, I guess my last question is what new things do you want to do with journalism?

HS: Well, a lot of it is new technology and I’ve been doing a lot of it already. I do a lot of commentary on twitter, on Facebook, blogging; I have my students doing it too in my sports reporting and advance sports reporting classes, so yeah I want to take advantage of the new technologies and get my opinions, viewpoints and name out there. So I’m having fun doing it.

BA: Yes, tweeting is fun!

HS: I have a lot of fun tweeting. I love doing little sarcastic pieces with just a few words on Twitter and Facebook, and I get a lot of good feedback on it from my friends, acquaintances and people I don’t even know, I hear from. The number of my twitter followers just keeps growing the more I keep doing it.

BA: Thank You for taking the time out to talk to me.

HS: My pleasure, my pleasure. I hope to see in my sports reporting class down the road Breanna.

BA: Thank you, I hope so too!

 And before I left his office and said a final goodbye, we fist bumped.

You can follow Mr. Schlossberg’s sports commentary on Twitter @hschlossberg 

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