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September 08, 1997 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 1997-09-08

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The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - September 8, 1997 - 38


M Q&: MilhbAbom
Bo Schembechler, the Fab Five, jobs that pay $25 per
month - Mitch Albom has seen a lot in his day

" There is always a best in everything.
And there is always an award to give to
the best. When the same person wins
year after year; an award is considered
not up forgrabs, but rather thefrontrun-
ner's to lose. Michael Jordan and the
NBA MVP award. Greg Maddux and the
Cy Young award. Mitch Albdm and the
AP Sports Editors Award for the best
column in the United States.
True, Albom may not be as much of a
ousehold name as Jordan or Maddux,
ut in his field, Albom sets the standard
for which other journalists work to
achieve. Albom has won the Associated
Press Sports Editors Award 10 of the
past 11years, an award no other colum-
nist has ever won twice. Albom, a
columnist for the Detroit Free Press, is
also an Emmy-Award winner and a
best-selling author He also hosts two
nationally syndicated radio shows, and
*orks with ESPN, heading a weekly
panel on "Prime Monday," and appear-
ing regularly on "The Sports Reporters."
Albom's resume includes two award-
winning books about University of
Michigan personalities: Bo
Schembechler, titled "Bao", and
Michigan's freshman basketball class
from 1991, titled "Fab Five ". His newest
work, "Tuesdays with Morrie: an old
man, a young man, and life's greatest
lesson', is a memoir of his relationship
40th and admiration for his college pro-
fessor, Morrie Schwartz. The book
details the lessons Albom learned from
Schwartz as they met every Tuesday
before Schwartz lost his battle with Lou
Gehrig's disease. They talked about life,
leading to what Albom calls his "final
and most powerful lesson."
The Michigan Daily's Jordan Field
recently sat down with Albom to discuss
tis column, Michigan sports and life's
nportant lessons.
Daily: How did you get into sports
Albom: It was an accident. I was a
musician coming out of school, and I
never really aspired to be, or never wrote
for any school paper. I didn't even read
the school paper. The only time I was
ever in the school paper was when they
did a story on exciting new ways to dec-
orate your dorm room, and they took a
Oicture of my room because I had record
albums up on my wall, so that was the
only time I was ever in the school paper.
After school I was getting discouraged
with the music business so I volunteered
for a local newspaper. It was one of
those throwaway things at the supermar-
ket, and one thing led to another. I
worked for free for six months, I worked
for $25 a week for six months, then I
ent back to graduate school, and while
t graduate school, just to make some
money, I took a job with a sports maga-
zine. I had no particular interest in
sports writing, and I've been in sports
ever since.
D: Most people can recognize your
writing to be very easy to read, and
almost rhythmic. How has your music
background affected your writing?
A: That is a very smart observation
because that is absolutely true.
Chysically, my wife has noticed that
en I write, I bob back and forth, and
she always says to me, "What are you
doing?" I just have sort of like a drum
beat in my head when I write. For
instance if I read a couple of sentences
strung together that just don't feel right,
then I'll stop bobbing back and forth,
and I'll fix it, read it again and start bob-
bing again when it sounds right. So I
just sort of go with that. It must be
*omething internal. Because I really
find music and writing very similar.
Especially with the column format, you
have the freedom to create, you have the
theme you can always come back to that
is kind of like a chorus, and you have

that one little area that goes off on atan-
gent and that's the bridge and you have
to wrap it up in a certain period of time
just like a song. So yes, I think there are
a lot of similarities.
D: You mentioned you hardly read in
hool. Who do you read now, and what
authors or columnists do you particular-
ly enjoy?
A: I read a lot. First and foremost I try
to read things that are not newspapers,
because I read a lot of newspapers as it
is. So I try to read good writers, good in
fiction and non-fiction, not just journal-
ism. That varies, everything from a lot
of young fiction writers all the way to
nsmeone like Tom Wolfe. In the sports
business, I read a lot of my friends' stuff
through the Internet, like Mike Downey
in Los Angeles or Bob Ryan out in
Boston. It's all there on my computer
D: You do so many things, from your
weekly column to radio and TV What is
your favorite thing you do? What do you
enjoy most?
A: Writing. To me it's the writing first
and everything else second. If you real-
think about it, the writing dominates
those other jobs. Because like on ESPN
on the sports reporters, or on Prime
Monday, you have to write what you say.
So whatever it is I want to say, I write it
out ahead of time, and on radio I began
writing my scripts out and by now I can
hear it in my head without needing to
script it out anymore. So I think the writ-
ing fuels all the other ones. I don't think
I'd be any good at any of the other things
Without really knowing how to write. I

might know how to write without being
on the radio, but not the other way
D: You and Bo Schembechler wrote a
book together a couple years ago titled
"Bo". What did you learn from that
experience with Coach Schembechler?
A: I learned never to do "Bo II".
I'm just kidding. I made a great friend
in Bo Schembechler. In seriousness, I
learned from Bo that he doesn't have a
memory of his own life. He is the only
person on the plan-
et, who you write
an autobiography
with him and you
have to interview a
hundred people
because he can't
remember any-.
thing. And I also
learned why the
guys that played
for him would go
through a wall for
him. I didn't play
far him, but after
spending so much
time with him, 1
kind of felt that
way. He had a certain charisma and just
a way, that, you didn't always agree with
him, but because you know he was so
true to himself, you respected him.
Plus, he had the loudest voice of any-
one I've ever met. When he yelled, I
jumped. We got in a lot of fights over
that book. I remember one fight when
he was in the shower. He came out of the
shower with a towel on and he was
yelling at me, but I had to keep from
laughing because he was wearing this
little towel but he was screaming at me
about this book. But you don't laugh at
Bo, so I went home and laughed.
D: I'm sure your experience was
much different, but what was your expe-
rience working with Michigan's Fab
Five, when you wrote the book about
A: Well that was very different,
because that was a book about the Fab
Five - with Bo, we wrote it together.
One was an autobiography and one was
a story about them. I had to ask them for
their time, and they weren't obligated to
give it to me. You know, I was writing
about them and some things were com-
plimentary and some weren't. ButI did

spend a lot of time with them and I feel
like I got to know all of them pretty well,
as a group and individually. I watched
them grow up. I've seen them change so
much. Just to see their attitude in college
versus the pros. How even guys like
that, who were so cocky and so sure of
themselves when they were at Michigan
- it's a good lesson to anybody who
thinks they're going to make it like that.
Because they were as talented as anyone
I've ever seen, and it didn't happen
quickly for any of
them, some of
them are still wait-
ing for it to hap-
pen. But they were
unique, I haven't
seen anything like
them. Another Fab
Five will come
along, but in name
only. I don't think
> there will ever be
five freshman who
shape the way the
game looks, and
the way the game
is played, the way
they did in one or
two years.
D: What, of all of your work, are you
most proud of?
A: This right here (he picks up his
new book, Tuesdays with Morrie). You
know, I guess all of the other things I
wrote were about me, or my take on
things - what I particularly thought
about something. This was a chance to
go back to being a student again. Instead
of being the person who knows it all,
and writing from a position of authority,
you don't have to listen to me (just)
because I know what I'm talking about.
If you read this book, you'll see I'm ask-
ing all the questions. I don't know what
I'm talking about. Instead of being the
teacher, it's not like any of the other
books; I'm the student in this book. I
found it more humbling and more grat-
ifying in the end to bring the lessons
from someone else - who is really
important to you - to the world, more
than it is to bring your own words there.
D: You have won so many awards
throughout your career and have almost
created a standard of excellence for
which your fans expect. Do you feel
pressure every time you write some-

thing with your name on it?
A: I feel pressure anytime I write any-
thing, but it's not because of awards. I
win those awards, but they are entered
for me by the newspaper. I don't count
them when I win. If I lose, the world
doesn't end, but yes, I put pressure on
myself every time I write. I have my
own standards. I have a hard time read-
ing my work in the morning paper. It
usually takes a few weeks before I'll
even look at it because I'm always con-
vinced I could have done better. I read it
and think 'Oh God, how could I have
made that mistake' or 'How could I have
chosen that word?' It's so obvious in the
morning that if I'd cut this paragraph or
taken this line out, it would have been so
much better. But when you're writing on
deadline, at the Palace or at Crisler or
something like that, you work with what
you've got. So there is always pressure,
but you kind of have to like the pressure,
otherwise it will kill you.
D: After all of these years in the
sports business, who do you root for?
A: I root for the good story. I grew up
in Philadelphia, and the true test was
with the (NHLs Detroit Red) Wings this
year. I was rooting for the Wings and it
was because of the players' personali-
ties. With the Wings, some of those guys
are such exceptionally good guys, I was
rooting for them. And I didn't know
anyone on the Flyers, so I was rooting
for Detroit. I'm sure anyone in this busi-
ness will find this, that you root for peo-
ple who are good people, and it really
doesn't matter who they play for. If they
are on your home team then you'll root
for them, but if they aren't you still root
for them because they are good people.
When Willie Hernandez dumped a
bucket of water over my head, I didn't
exactly root for him to do well, and he
was playing here in Detroit with the
Tigers. So that's what it really boils
down to.
D: In both your writing and radio
show you deal with sports and also "real
life" issues. Do you have a preference
on the topic you deal with?
A: People ask me all the time which
one I like better, but to me it's the
same. It's just whatever mood I'm in.
But if I'm going to have an opinion
column, I really want it to be some-
thing that is worth saying. Sometimes
people write columns because it's
their day. Like, "Well, it's Tuesday, I
have to write a column and come up
with something to have an opinion
about." That's wrong, that's not how a
column should be done. If you don't
have a strong opinion about some-
thing, you shouldn't be writing a col-
umn about it. If it's your turn to write
a column and you have nothing to say,
then just reflect on something or do
something different. Don't just slam
somebody because it's Tuesday and
you have to write something. That just
undermines what journalism is sup-
posed to be about. It's not about filling
up a page, it's about having something
worthwhile to say.
D: What do you think about all of the
allegations surrounding Michigan
sports, especially the basketball pro-
See ALBOM, Page 12B

Bik Thnree aside 7WM
sports contbzue to thrve
: All incoming students
FROM: The Michigan Athletic Department
RE: The Big Three
MESSAGE: We apologize, but...
Because it got caught up in mailing you all the junk mail regarding M-Cards,
MSA elections, University Health Services and so forth, the University mistaken-
ly forgot to send its snazzy-jazzy, whoomp-there-it-is, glam-jam brochure telling
you all about the aura that surrounds Michigan's varsity athletics.
Sure, it directed you to the Union Bookstore during orientation and showed
you the hot items in Maize and Blue haute couture. They forced you to buy the
keychains that blare "The Victors" incessantly, and told you that those Nikes sure
look a lot cooler than the latest from adidas. But they forgot to tell you all abut
the teams that make this university the most marketable one in the nation.
With that said, let me take the opportunity to introduce you to Michigan sports
- the people that will make you proud (often at the most unexpected of times),
but unfortunately, more often than not, will make you seethe with frustration ind
force you to ask each other, "Leaders and best?"
This athletic department revolves around a lead actor- football - and two
very strong supporters - men's basketball and ice hockey. These programs are
what makes money for Michigan, and puts the Univerity on SportsCenter night-
The football team was a monster under the leadership of coach Bo
Schembechler in the 1970s and 1980s winning nearly 80 percent of its games
and 12 Big Ten championships during his 21-year reign.
The basketball team is the glitziest of the three, gaining much of its fame with-
in the past 10 years with the help of a national championship in 1989 and a
group of cocky freshmen two years later, known as the Fab Five, who led the "
Wolverines to the national-championship game in back-to-back seasons.
The hockey team, affectionately referred to as the "icers;' won the NCAA title
just two years ago with an overtime goal in the championship game. The
Wolverines have set NCAA records by winning 30 games in each of the last six
Pretty impressive resume, eh?
Well, here's the one word you didn't want to hear: letdown. That's the motto
for the Big Three this year, which should make for a pretty ugly Michigan sports
The football team is a 7-5 team at best. The good news is that the Wolverites
have probably the best all-around player in the country in Charles Woodson. The
bad news is that they need about 10 clones of him if they want to smell Roses'
four months from now. That's because Michigan's schedule, as I'm sure you're all
aware, is a god-send for television networks looking for games attracting a
national audience, but a nightmare for the Michigan fan; the Wolverines will
probably lose most, if not all of those big games.
If you find mediocrity humorous, and underachievment captivating, then be
sure to pick up some men's basketball tickets. Don't let anyone tell you that
Michigan has so-and-so who was this guy's national high school player of the
year. This is ateam that lost it's best player to the NBA and couldn't even crack
the NCAA Tournament last year with him. Prepare yourselves for a .500 record
and a sixth- or seventh-place finish.
Even though you've probably noticed a pattem developing here, you're going
to ask why the hockey team is headed for a sub-standard season after such a'
splendid streak of consistent domination. Ever heard of these guys: Morrison,
Botterill, Legg, Madden? Haven't? Good. Then you won't feel like there's a void
to be filled on this team that lost the greatest recruiting class in college hockey
history and players who were all among the 20 best in school history. Michigan
coach Red Berenson brought in a solid recruiting class, but it will be at least a
year or two before it begins paying dividends.
These are the reasons why the athletic department didn't send you anything.
this summer. Calm down. I'll give you a couple of minutes now to call yourpar-
ents to tell them that you want to transfer.
Okay, now that I have your attention again, I want to point out to you that.
because this is a down year for the "Big Three", it's prime time to acquaint your-
selves with the low-budget, and even lower profile teams that, unlike the afore-
mentioned, are on the upside. These could be bandwagon teams quite soonespe-
cially if the "Big Three" fail to meet even the lowest of expectations.
Did you watch the Olympics last summer? See that guy Tom Dolan, ak.a. The
best male swimmer in the world? A Wolverine, although not anymore. Still, both
the men's and women's swimming teams at Michigan have routinely placed
among the top five in the nation for the past decade. Men's coach Jon Urbaichek
and women's skipper Jim Richardson are considered among the nation's coaching
See BOMBER, Page 12B

Mitch Aibom signs a copy of his new book, "Tuesdays with Morrie", Friday at The
Uttie Professor bookstore in Ann Arbor.
The Michigan Athletic Media Relations Department seeks
reliable work-study and volunteer students. Flexible hours and
must be available to work evenings and weekends.Various duties
include writing, research and statistical work plus game day
activities for Michigan's 23 varsity sports. Stop in the Athletic
Media Relations Office, 1000S. State St., or call 763-4423 for
more information. Student meeting Sept. 9, 4:00 p.m.

WAhat's New at the
V North Campus Satellite Office Now Open
Where: 1212 Pierpont Commons
(in the same location as the Office of the Registrar
and the Entre Office)
What: Offering a range of services (including advising
and application material drop-off and pick-up)
When: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday:
9 a.m.-12 noon & 1 p.m.-3 p.m.
Thursday: 1 p.m.-5 p.m.

Telephone: 763-6600 (same as the Main Office number)
V/Student Employment Job Search Website:
Tap into listings for Work-Study and Non-Work-Study
employment opportunities on and off campus!

Wednesday September 10th
7:30 PM * CCRB

Office of Financial Aid
Office of Financial Aid " 2011 S.A.B. " U of M " (313)763-6600 " financial.aid~umich.edu

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