em Still No Cheering in the Press Box: Dan Jenkins

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DAN JENKINS

...in his own words
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My early influences were the humorist—James Thurber, S. J. Perelman, Max Shulman, and Dorothy Parker. Then the two greatest sportswriters who ever lived—John Lardner and Red Smith.

I’d copy the great ones, and then somehow develop a voice and attitude of my own. I think Red said this first.

About This Project

In his 1973 book "No Cheering in the Press Box," author Jerome Holtzman chronicled the lives of the greatest sports journalists of his generation. Four decades later, students at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism are updating his work with a series of interviews with the best sports journalists of the last 40 years.

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The chapter was produced by George Solomon

About Dan Jenkins

Dan Jenkins' love of golf and college football -- and no-nonsense approach -- made him a must read for the Fort Worth Press, Sports Illustrated and Golf Digest. He takes advantage of the off-color humor that led to many best-selling books by being a must-follow on Twitter.

BORN: December 2, 1929
HOMETOWN: Fort Worth, Texas
LIVES: Fort Worth, Texas
EDUCATION: Texas Christian University
OCCUPATION: Author; Columnist, Golf Digest
TWITTER: @danjenkinsgd

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Works by Dan Jenkins

"The Disciples of St. Darrell on a Wild Weekend." Sports Illustrated, Nov. 11, 1963.

"What the Raiders Have is Genius." Sports Illustrated, Dec. 2, 1974.

"A Braw Brawl for Tom and Jack." Sports Illustrated, July 18, 1977.

“The Joy of Having a Foe You Know.” Sports Illustrated, Sept. 9, 1968

"Starting the Season Full of Hope.” Sports Illustrated, Jan. 22, 1979

“And Then There Was One.” Sports Illustrated, April 17, 1978

“Nice (Not) Knowing You.” Golf Digest, Feb. 18, 2010

On Dan Jenkins:

“Ben Hogan Isn’t Walking Out of That Sand Trap” by Bryan Curtis

“Frogs, football define life its ownself for Jenkins” by Ivan Maisel

“On life, golf, writing and Fort Worth” by Russ Pate

‘I hope I’ve gotten better through the years. You never stop learning.’

My 23 years at Sports Illustrated were the glory years of that magazine. It was Writers Heaven. The Managing Editor stood behind us, defended us, gave parades down the halls for pieces he particularly enjoyed, drank with us, discussed coverages with us, told the business side to stay off our ass. What more could you want. You might say it gave us a swagger.

Like most newspaper or magazine guys, I suppose, I wanted to appear in hardcover. It was a far-off goal. I also wanted to try a novel. Not really knowing what I was doing, I wrote “Semi-Tough.” It took off and changed my life, opening doors to other opportunities—and challenges.

Sally Jenkins is the best sports columnist in America. I can’t think of a runner-up, although there are many “readable” people out there. Sally is a fierce worker, digger, reporter, and thinker, and she combines that with a literary style that reflects her strong opinions and thoughtfulness.

I like to joke that she and I agree she’s the best writer in the family.

I’m too partial to the past to think today’s journalism is better than it used to be. I saw it start to change when sportswriters wrote about nothing but money and pro sports were eating sports sections alive. I never cared what a player made, an owner made, what a franchise was worth, all that crap. None of that told me anything about an athlete’s heart.

Dan Jenkins speaks at the 2012 World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Too many writers today will sell out a fact for a joke. I have always lived by the words of Dorothy Parker: “Wit has truth in it. Jokes are just calisthenics with words.”

I will always believe the first obligation of a writer is to be accurate. If he can entertain at the same time, all the better.

My future is, I’ll type till I topple over. The future of sportswriting is in Sally’s hands and the hands of some spirited others on The Post staff like Barry (Svrluga) and Rick (Maese) and Dave Sheinin.

But of course, like everyone else, I have no idea what electricity has in store for us.

I think I know what Lardner or Red would say. “Got time for another?”

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