Sports journalism can be hazardous to your health

wilbonMany years ago I played a doubles tennis match in Atlanta when I was the Detroit Pistons beat writer.

I teamed with former Detroit News sports columnist Bryan Burwell in a killer match between former Detroit Free Press sports columnist Drew Sharp and Washington Post sport columnist and ESPN personality Mike Wilbon.

I’d give anything for a rematch. But that’s not possible.

Drew died of a heart attack at the all too young age of 56 in 2016. Burwell died of skin cancer two years earlier at age 59. Wilbon suffered a heat attack at age 50. I had a career ending stroke at age 57. Wilbon and I are lucky. We survived.

The Detroit News lost columnist Shelby Strother of cancer at age 44. And the Free Press Corky Meinecke. Both died of cancer at age 44.

After the death of 97.1 radio host Jamie Samuelsen, 48, my wife Abs asked is there something up with my profession? Why are people dying so young?

There is something up with my former profession. It is fast paced excitement. You are always chasing that next deadline and eager to attend that next press briefing, no matter how insignificant it was.

Many of us juggled two jobs and taking care of your health became a low priority. You never wanted to step off the roller coaster because of fear of missing something important.

I ate well during my many years on the road. But I did not eat healthy. We talked more about what restaurants we’d visit in each city than who the Pistons, Lions or Red Wings were facing.

Los Angeles meant Aunt Kizzie’s Back Porch in Marina del Rey: We’d run off our flights to the rent a car establishment so we could get meat loaf, macaroni and cheese, greens and dressing from Kizzy’s. The food was so heavy and delicious it would be the only thing we ate that day.

In Seattle I loved the fried finger food on the wharf.

In Seattle The House of Nanking and Boulevard were must stops.

On night in Milwaukee I had a craving for a Philly cheese steak at 2 in the morning. A Philly cheese steak in Milwaukee? I knew it was a mistake even before I ordered the damn thing. But I scarfed it down like it was my last meal.

This was also the night I joined a bunch of sports writers from Detroit and New York as we did 12 shots each.

My 8 am flight home was one of the most miserable of my life although it was less than an hour long.

My weight hovered around 225 pounds and got as high as 242 pounds.

I discovered after my stroke that food did not have to be friend, filled with sodium and come delivered after midnight to taste good. And I did not have to eat a ton of it to feel filled. My weight got as low as 186 pounds although the wife likes me better at 195.

I guess at 186 my head looks big and my ass disappears.

That’s OK. If it means a longer life that is a small price to pay.

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Published by terryfoster8

I am a 58 year old retired sports journalist, husband and father of two living outside of Detroit in search of his next big adventure in life.

2 thoughts on “Sports journalism can be hazardous to your health

  1. Well said Terry. Good hearing from you, we chatted in February at the boxing benefit at Thomas McGees. Please give my best to your wife as we attended WMU together.


    Harry Todd

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