Why continue to embrace a craft that literally almost killed me, a profession currently diluted by so many unskilled bloggers and corporate suckups that it has lost much of its soul?
My answer remains the same as it has for three decades: Because I still love sports, and because I still love to write. Sports + writing = sportswriter.
His love letter continues:
After all the madness, all the liars and loons, why would I want to continue writing about sports? Wouldn’t I rather be a factory worker in China? An elephant sperm collector? Not a chance.
There’s no better place on the literary landscape that regularly strikes every nerve on the emotional spectrum, where the best commentators can profile a wonderful moment as easily as they rage over the latest scandal, where the essence of it all—you’re-wrong-and-I’m-right debate—remains a vital American exercise that turns ESPN rabble-rousers Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith into polarizing national figures.
And more love:
The ongoing dramas of organized competition reflect life in its rawest form—meaning nothing, really, to the ultimate condition of the world yet evoking mass reaction that keeps emotional juices flowing like no other genre. What would you want me to write about, Obama and Romney? My subjective objectivity would be shot down as biased by rotten political media types with agendas. Music? Yeah, I want to try explaining the Katy Perry phenomenon. Business? Only if fortified by a steady stream of Zoloft. Hollywood? Phonies everywhere.
There’s a reason, through history, why so many acclaimed writers have chosen sports or dabbled in it. Simply, it offers the meatiest subject matter with some of the highest readership.
Clearly, Mariotti wants back in. ChicagoSide, headed by Jonathan Eig, whose work includes excellent books on Lou Gehrig and Jackie Robinson, is giving him the platform for now.
While ChicagoSide does a nice job as a new site that offers a menu of diverse stories, Mariotti, who lives in Los Angeles, wants a bigger stage. And make no mistake: He is available.
Is he is reaching out to some outlets here?:
For every punk hack trying to increase hit totals by ripping an ESPN sportscaster, there thankfully are places such as The New York Times, USA Today and ESPN.com that have moved into the digital era by doing sports journalism the right way.
Later, he writes:
Someone asked if I prefer to have my old jobs back. Nope. I want my new job—multimedia in nature, commenting at large, dictated by the most important stories instead of each day’s news.
Finally, Mariotti concludes:
I hope Mr. Eig now understands why sports writing is a lifelong passion for me, assuming my life lasts much longer. Why do I like it? Because I’m pretty good at it, when others are not. And because I still know why sports matter, when others do not.
Mariotti writes in the piece, “I’ve merrily taken two years off in L.A. to recharge for the next 25.”
Merrily? I hope that’s the case, for Mariotti’s sake. But people who know him suspect two years on the sidelines has been very difficult. Jay doesn’t just chill.
From what I’ve heard, Mariotti wants to work again. Make that: Needs to work again.
But will anyone hire him? He still has that domestic violence incident with a former girlfriend that derailed his career. It hangs out there, regardless of what Mariotti claims really happened. He wrote an e-book, The System: A Manual on Surviving Liars, Loons, Law, Life, which is available on Amazon.
It’s been two years. Why isn’t he back to work on a full-time gig? Is it because of his own choice, or because nobody has called? Or nobody has called with the right offer?
Say what you will about him, Mariotti is a gifted writer and a polarizing figure who can command the room. But will a large entity give him another chance?
Mariotti is awaiting your call.