Bob Ryan Shares Some of His Wisdom

Checking in with the semi-retired Boston Globe sports columnist.

Like most sportswriters from the Boston area, I grew up revering Bob Ryan. In early December, I spoke to the semi-retired Globe columnist for this month’s magazine story about the Boston sports media. Here are a few bits of wisdom from Ryan, who remains as passionate about sports as ever.

On what it’s like to cover a team these days:

“It’s now a job that is so tense and time consuming and aggravating because of the social media influence. It’s changing times, with [the athletes’] sensibilities and their complete lack of interest in the press—and the lack of need for any press…I did it when it was fun, civilized, and you had somewhat of a life, and it was accessible, [the athletes] were accessible, and the [NBA] was accessible, and it was just better. I don’t envy anybody covering a team in any major sport for any major outlet, whether it’s a newspaper or whether it’s a website or dot com.”

On sportswriters getting caught up in the day-to-day grind of the beat:

“I would think you’d have to work hard to remind yourself of what it’s all about. That it shouldn’t just be about the minutiae of the day, of which there’s way too much now. It should be about keeping your mind on the bigger picture. The good people can do that. There’s still more good than bad.”

On how the Boston sports media climate has changed:

“The press box, when I discovered it in 1969, it was a chatty, but not catty place. … The nature of who’s in the business. I’m talking about people who maybe never went to college. They were hired out of high school, but maybe they were ready. They weren’t as educated. They were funny as hell. The humor was more prevalent in the press box than it is. The whole feel of it was different. … Half the people were alcoholics or reformed alcoholics.

“The positive change in all of it is the amount of information that’s available for a fan that wants to avail himself or herself of it.”

On the best sport to cover:

“People would say me, and they did, ‘What do you like to cover?’ And I’d say the best sport to cover is golf. And they’d look at me, and I’d say, ‘It’s the last sport that TV can’t fuck up.’ Even though they tried. The worst they can do to your at golf is start the final round at 2 Eastern.”

On the claustrophobic nature of the Red Sox clubhouse:

“I used to hate it. You go down there before the game and there’s 25 people just standing around with each other, waiting for something to happen.”

On the Globe’s newest columnist Christopher L. Gasper:

“He’s where he ought to be right now. I’m very happy to have him take the torch. That’s the way I look at it.”