It’s been a sad week in sports, as yesterday we lost the great Alex Karras, and today Beano Cook passed away. I was a fan of both (admittedly knowing Karras for his work in Hollywood more than on the field), but another man passed away to less fanfare yesterday and for me it hit far harder. That man was Bill Jauss
Jauss began his career at the Twin-City News Record in Neenah-Menasha in 1954, before moving on to Chicago where he worked at the Tribune for 37 years. He also was a pioneer in sports talk radio, featured on The Sportswriters Show on WGN Chicago. That turned into The Sportwriters on TV. I’d say it was the forebearer of shows like Around the Horn, and First Take, but I’m not sure Jauss would want to take credit for that.
Unlike those shows, there wasn’t anything slick or produced to The Sportswriters on TV. There was no pretention. Nobody said something ludicrous just to get attention. It was four guys – Rick Telander, Bill Gleason, Ben Bentley, and Jauss, sitting around a card table talking about whatever was being talked about by sports fans at any given bar in America. There was a cloud of cigar smoke above them, and the day’s sports sections scattered across the table. It was like watching your older brother (Telander), your dad (Jauss) and your grandpa (Gleason) talk sports. And as a kid, I couldn’t wait to be able to get to that table.
They were all great, but Jauss had an everyman quality unlike all the others combined. There were no frills to his presentation – he sometimes did the show in jeans and a t-shirt or golf shirt. He didn’t need to look polished – his words did that for him. He was a gifted writer, a passionate sports fan, and I can say by all accounts I would most definitely not be doing this for a living today if I hadn’t grown up watching him make it look like so much fun.
I hope I learned from Bill Jauss. I hope I can cover sports as well as he did. The best way I can think of to honor him is to stick to the principles I feel he lived by:
- There are no small sports stories, only small sports reporters.
- Whatever you are covering, give it the same amount of respect you would give the Super Bowl. The athletes involved certainly are.
- Athletes are celebrities. You are not.
- All of us in this business can talk. The best can listen.
- There’s no sense in being confrontational for the sake of being confrontational.
- This is a world filled with war. Unemployment. Famine. This is sports. This is fun. Act like it!
Matt Regashus is the producer of The Bill Michaels Show. Follow him on twitter @BigRaguSports. Questions? Comments? E-mail him at email@example.com