My first interview at 'SI,' I sat in silence next to Guy LaFleur for five minutes on the New York Rangers team bus until he finally broke the ice. Those early interviews, every one of them was like a terrible first date.
Years ago, children helped my brother search for his lost ball at Jackson Park Golf Course in Chicago - and even offered to sell it back to him on the next tee. That entrepreneurial spirit, on the site of the 1893 World's Fair - which introduced Cracker Jacks to the United States - exemplifies America, to say nothing of American public golf.
Solitary pursuits like playing video games and skateboarding can't compete with the thrill of mobbing a teammate as he scores the winning run - nor do they end with a postgame trip to Dairy Queen.
Hurricane Irene's advance coverage was heavy on worst-case scenarios. Thank goodness they didn't pan out.
When you go on a road trip, the trip itself becomes part of the story.
I spent a year slaving over a hot rollergrill in a Metrodome concession stand and watched the World Series there - and a Super Bowl and a Final Four. I can honestly say - regardless of outcome - that I left every game floating on air.
In our house, the name for all athletic shoes - any that weren't dress or 'church' shoes - was 'tennis shoes,' or 'tennies.'
I'd happily cover the British Open every year until St. Andrews slides into the sea or Scotland runs out of beer, whichever happens first.
I'm a recovering jersey wearer who can't bear to get rid of the blaze-orange Knicks warmup top that makes me look like James Carville on a highway repair crew.
Outside Buckingham Palace, the Royal Standard flies only when the reigning monarch is in residence. Sadly, there's no similar flag outside The Woods Jupiter, which Tiger opened in the summer of 2015, spending a reported $8 million to make an upscale sports bar-and-restaurant in his image.
'Uff da,' for the unenlightened, is Norwegian for 'oy vey' and is a common expression in Minnesotese.
When should a man stop wearing sports jerseys? When the buttons of his White Sox top finally pop, like rivets on a distressed ocean liner? When the pinstripes of his Yankees shirt have grown wider at the midsection than at the top, as the longitudinal lines on a globe?
There is something inherently foolish in soldiering on when there is no hope of payoff.
That's what Letterman did. He mocked everything and everyone in show business, even though he was at the top of show business. He was in it but not really of it, and that's one thing I came to love about him. I mean, you can't sit there and interview Cher and pretend you're not in show business, but he managed to pull it off somehow.
As a kid, I didn't know that 'All in the Family' was satirizing male chauvinism or that Bobby Riggs was a self-promoting put-on. Many of us didn't get the irony and went on making fun of women and girls who wanted to play sports, especially the same sports that men and boys traditionally played.
On its surface, the HBO documentary series 'Hard Knocks,' about the New York Jets' training camp, resembles another HBO series, 'The Sopranos.' Both star the stout patriarch of a New Jersey 'family' preoccupied with food, intimidation, and florid profanity.
Swish: A made basket. Swoosh: The Nike logo. Swish-swoosh, swish-swoosh, swish-swoosh: A thousand coaches in nylon tracksuits, walking through hotel lobbies at the Final Four.
At its root, 'quit' means 'to set free' - think of an acquittal in a court of law - and to quit is often to be liberated.
Cinderella is older than she lets on. She's ancient. She's had work done. The Disney film was based on Charles Perreault's French story 'Cendrillon,' published in 1697.
All kingdoms look small through an airplane window - little dominions built on quicksand. But looking up from the ground, where most of us stand, they're rather impressive.
I'm an unabashed sports photo fanboy, the kind of weirdo who seeks out the infinitesimal picture credits.
Hype is supposed to overpromise and underdeliver, not overpromise and overdeliver. Usually, it doesn't deliver at all - it takes your money and keeps your pizza.
Humans had run barefoot for millennia, and some still preferred doing so in the modern Stone Age of the mid-20th century, when the handful of people running for exercise often wore whatever they happened to have on at the moment of inspiration.
I had almost nothing published until I had something published in 'Sports Illustrated.' I started there as a fact-checker two weeks after I got out of college and was there for almost 20 years.
Though we endow them with human features - heads, faces, heels, toes - golf clubs are profoundly inhuman tools.
Golf mogul Donald Trump sports an arrangement of hair that is less a comb-over than a 'do-over, a candy-floss confection of gossamer wisps that comes off as the clumsiest cover-up since Watergate.
In any other context, 'icing' is a great and exciting word: The proverbial icing on the cake, for instance, is a bonus - a wonderful thing on top of another wonderful thing. But in hockey, icing merely results in the referee's raising his right hand, as if swearing an oath to the deity of downtime.
The only thing wider than my family's mean streak is my family's cheap streak.
Golf tough guys - like movie tough guys - are almost always inscrutable, just beyond our full understanding.
I had started writing for 'Sports Illustrated,' which was really my dream job growing up. But the writing probably read like I was auditioning to write for 'Letterman' or '70s-era Carson.
Headline writers love the phrase 'Power Grab,' but you can't really grab it, can you? Power is a greased watermelon, a wisp of smoke, difficult to grasp, harder to hold, impossible to control while getting both feet down in bounds.
After the abrupt death of my mother, Jane, on Sept. 5, 1991, of a disease called amyloidosis, my dad took up golf at 57. He and my mother had always played tennis - a couples' game of mixed doubles and tennis bracelets and Love-Love. But in mourning, Dad turned Job-like to golf, a game of frustration and golf widows and solitary hours on the range.
I can't putt. The reasons are infinite. When lining up a putt, I can't remember if the ball always breaks to the ocean or to the valley or away from Pinnacle Peak. And because I took up the game in Minnesota, in what is often called Middle America, I also grew up asking, 'To which ocean does it break?'
The most enduring Top 10 ever written wasn't written at all, but chiseled onto stone tablets and conveyed down Mount Sinai by Moses, who introduced to the world not just a set of Biblical precepts but also a new format for starting arguments: the list of 10 things.
You never forget your first felony. Mine was mail tampering. As a hoops-crazed 13-year-old, I rifled through a new neighbor's mailbox to confirm that the occupant of the split-level on 98 1/2 Street in Bloomington, Minn., really was former Gophers basketball star Flip Saunders.
I turned 7 in 1973 and remember Bobby Riggs arriving at the Astrodome on a chariot pulled by showgirls before his 'battle of the sexes' tennis match against Billie Jean King.
If you own face paint and a bulb horn and you're not a circus clown, you might be uncool.
'Hard Knocks' seems to have done for the self-serious NFL what the witch did for Rapunzel: persuaded it, somehow, to let its hair down.
Trying to keep up is the ultimate act of uncoolness. And so I still retrieve not one but two daily newspapers from the driveway.
For most of the twentieth century, a Minnesotan abroad could fix his home state in the cosmos by invoking for his hosts the name Charles Lindbergh or Bob Dylan, native sons who were claimed by the world and never really returned to the Gopher State.
As good as NFL Films is at making players human, it's even better at making players superhuman. No Hollywood studio has made movies that are more grand or gorgeous. Every meticulous shot of 'Hard Knocks' is a vision: every slow-motion spiral, every shaved head steaming like a Manhattan manhole cover.
History is not just written by the winners; it's written about them.
A lot of people say they eat, drink, and sleep sports, but does anyone really do it, ingesting nothing but Dodger Dogs and Soda Shaqs and Greg Norman Zinfandels 24/7?
My wife's name, Rebecca Lobo, is on sandwiches and street signs in New England. It adorns the arena rafters at the University of Connecticut, where she first became a basketball star. Her high school in Massachusetts is on Rebecca Lobo Way, a nice trump card to play at reunions.
Sam Snead had perhaps the most stylish solution to the balding golfer: A snappy fedora that became his signature style, so much so that many never knew he was tonsorially bereft.