Sports were my first love.
I grew up playing them, watching them and dreaming about them.
Baseball, football, basketball, soccer, tennis. Pickup games. Organized teams and leagues. Ping pong. Capture the flag. Push-up contests. Running up mountains. Climbing trees. Riding waves. Anything that involved a physical pursuit or competition or ball, and I was eager to participate. Sign me up, mom. Put me in, coach. There wasn’t a sport I didn’t like.
Sports challenged me.
Hitting a baseball? Fielding up a grounder? Throwing a curveball? Catching a football? Throwing a perfect spiral? Kicking a soccer ball? Scoring a goal? Shooting a basketball? Making a free throw? Dunking? Serving a tennis ball? Flat? With spin? Hitting a forehand? A backhand? With topspin or slice? I learned the fundamentals and hungered for more. I wanted to keep advancing to the next level.
Sports taught me about life — how to overcome fear, the pain of injury, the agony of not making a team, the anguish of losing, the joy of victory, the thrill of success, and the sacrifice required to be a champion.
My heroes were great athletes and sports figures, the bigger-than-life characters I saw on TV doing amazing things.
- Boris Becker and Steffi Graf winning Wimbledon.
- Michael Cooper shutting down Larry Bird in the NBA Finals.
- Marcus Allen running wild on the Washington Redskins in the Super Bowl.
- Mike Tyson in black trunks and black shoes with no socks knocking out everyone.
- Kirk Gibson hitting a walk-off home run off Dennis Eckersley in the World Series.
- Pat Riley guaranteeing back-to-back titles for the Lakers.
- The U.S. women’s soccer team taking the World Cup in penalty kicks at the Rose Bowl.
Vin Scully, Chick Hearn and Jim Murray were my eyes and ears and storytellers. Their play-by-play poetry taught me the language of sports and introduced me to the mental aspect of the games and the strategy to winning. They were my guides and sages.
NFL Films and ESPN Classic were my history teachers. Nothing beat seeing Vince Lombardi draw up X’s and O’s on a chalkboard and hearing him yell, "What the hell’s going on out here?" on the sidelines. Then watching the Green Bay Packers execute excellence. Old highlights of sports legends doing legendary things made my day. I lived for "This Week in Baseball" with Mel Allen and "Monday Night Football" halftime highlights with Howard Cosell.
A trip to the ballpark was a magical experience. So was collecting shoe boxes of baseball cards, getting NFL pencils with team names and colors each fall for school, and following the day-to-day rhythms of NBA, NFL, MLB and college football seasons. I looked forward to reading the sports section of the Los Angeles Times every morning — cover to cover — down to the agate. That’s how we did it in the days before the internet, and I pored over box scores, results, standings, stats. I could not get enough.
I loved everything about sports as a kid. And I still do.
Sports are more than entertainment. Sports are the great equalizer. They connect us. They unite us. They spark our passions, fuel our competitive drive and help us build camaraderie and relationships. Our engagement with sports — the teams we love and those we hate, the games we choose to watch and play — shapes our understanding of ourselves. The stories we tell through sports reveal our humanity.
Sports provide us inspiration, escape, hope, heartbreak.
Sports are life.
Stadium Talk will be an observer of life through the prism of sports. We will do this through great storytelling. At times, our stories may be light-hearted and humorous. At other times, they may be poignant and inspiring. At all times, they will be informative and engaging. We will cover today’s headlines in compelling ways that give readers human interest they can’t find anywhere else.
Our focus here at Stadium Talk is to spotlight the human side of sports around the world. We want to spark conversations about the epic journeys, agonizing failures, incredible displays of athleticism and triumphs of spirit.
Sports are universal, and we embrace our global expansion. We acknowledge that almost 50 percent of the world, or 3.5 billion people, are sports fans. We recognize that the most popular sports in the world — soccer and cricket — are less popular in the United States, where 60 percent of Americans, or 197 million people, consider themselves sports fans.
We have an inclusive worldview and plan to provide something for every kind of sports fan, wherever they live. We will take readers to uncharted places and appeal to a diverse audience. We will publish stories about athletes, teams and fans. We understand what it means to be fully invested in the roller coaster of a season. We can relate to those who prefer to relax in the stands and enjoy the ride.
We get those who only tune in for the "big game" or every four years. We also will reach the non-sports fans, find crossover opportunities in our work and offer engaging content that resonates with anyone. We want to develop a reputation as a go-to source for interesting information and great stories.
We get so much from sports. Now, it’s time to give back and use the power of sports as a unifying force to teach and inspire.
If you love sports, you’ve come to the right place. Even if you don’t like sports, we’re happy you’re here.
Our love affair with sports continues. Stadium Talk is the next chapter.
On your mark, get set, let’s go.
Stadium Talk Senior Editor