Just some thoughts:
Grantland Rice was one of the most famous sports writers of all time. In his time he was legendary. He was born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee and later graduated from Vanderbilt.
In 1920 Rice was covering a famous fight of the time. Gene Tunney was set to box the champion Jack Dempsey. Tunney ended up beating Dempsey. In those days sports writers had deadlines. They had to get their stories to the paper by a certain time for it to meet the next edition.
Following this fight it was said that Rice was not feeling well. He was suffering from a bad cold, sore throat and some might, add a bit of a hangover. That night he did the unthinkable and something he never did again. His friend fellow sports writer Ring Launder was staying at the same hotel and Launder told Rice, “Why don’t you just go on to bed your not feeling well and I’ll write your story for you and get it to the paper.” An often practice of some writers, they called it “ghost writing.” Someone else do your story under you name. Rice had never done such before. Unfortunately for Rice he agreed.
Launder did not particularly like either fighter. It was said he had a fifty dollar bet on Tunney and he was not happy losing his money. Launder wrote a less than flattering piece singling out both fighters. Some even said the article hinted at the idea that Tunney may have thrown the fight.
The piece hurt Rice’s reputation. It was not of the style or tone that readers of Rice had come to expect from him. Rice received severe criticism in a lot of circles and he felt bad about what he had done. A lesson learned and a good one for all of us today.
Rice died in 1954 and remains as one of the most respected sports writers in history. He is still often quoted with the following.
“When the One Great Scorer comes to write against your name, He marks not that you won or lost, but how you played the game.”
I think if Rice was talking today he might say to us, “Don’t let someone else speak for you.”
July 7, 2019
Posted July 8, 2019