PETER K: What A Difference A Year Makes
By Peter Kerasotis // August 11, 2012
PETER KERASOTIS – MY TAKE
Today is my anniversary.
It was Aug. 11, 2011 when Bob Stover, the executive editor at Florida Today, told me the newspaper no longer had a writing position for me. Twenty-two years of consistent award-winning work ended in less than five minutes. You can read about it HERE.
” I’ll just have to crank out another freelance story or two to recoup my losses. And that, my friends, has been one of the best parts of this past year, which was moving on from Florida Today and getting to work for the hands-down best boss I’ve ever had – me.”
I’d say that it feels like yesterday, but it doesn’t. It feels like a lifetime ago, perhaps even another life.
It didn’t take me long to move on, happier. Sometimes, and many of you can probably relate to this in your jobs, you’re swimming so hard and so fast just to stay afloat that you don’t even realize you’re in a cesspool.
Until you get out.
Or, in my case, you’re kicked out.
Now it’s exactly a year later, and I’d like to say that getting laid off was the worst thing that happened to me in these 365 days. But it wasn’t. The worst was getting my backpack stolen from me off a bus in Oslo, Norway, just last week. Inside were both my passports (USA and Greek), a new Lenovo ThinkPad laptop, my iPod Touch, Bose headphones, Sennheiser earbuds, airline tickets, and just a bunch of personal stuff. Oh, and the backpack, too. It was also new; a cool-looking leather backpack that in retrospect was just screaming the words STEAL ME!
So someone did.
Freelancing has been interesting, and rewarding. To have people want my byline because of the work I do and the writing that comes with it, and not because I’m on the payroll, has been reaffirming. After so many years of feeling taken for granted, it’s sure nice to feel wanted. And respected. And valued.
I do a lot of work for the New York Times, the links to which are provided here on this site. The Times even had me cover the New York Yankees for them over seven straight days this past spring. How cool is that, getting to cover the biggest sports beat in the world for the best newspaper in the world? Even better is finding out just what good folks the Times people are. You wouldn’t think so. You probably hear the words New York Times and immediately think snobbery coupled with a condescending attitude. If so, like me, you’d be wrong. They’ve been the nicest people. Whenever I file a story, they act like I’m doing them a favor. And I’ll say this, too. I’ve gotten more compliments from those folks in less than one year than I got at Florida Today in 22 years. No lie.
The same is true with Orlando Magazine, for whom I’ve been averaging a story every other month, several of which have been cover stories. Great people to work with. You can also get the links to those pieces right here at this site as well.
And then there is this site, which I’ve referenced twice now – SpaceCoast-Daily.com. It’s given me the outlet to be more personal with those of you who’ve read me for years and were kind enough to inundate me with good words about how you missed my regular missives. We’re only four months old, so keep checking back and checking in, and watch us grow.
It’s been interesting.
I write for the New York Times one way (they do have a certain style). I write magazine pieces a different way. And then there’s the mostly opinion pieces I do for SpaceCoastDaily.com.
If writing were a sport, I’d be a triathlete.
At any rate, it’s been good exercise, and a good year.
What happened to me last August 11 also seems so long ago because so much has happened this past year. So much sports news.
And what was the biggest sports story from this past year?
I know it might seem like the Orlando Magic trading Dwight Howard, especially since it’s so fresh and it is so big.
But it isn’t the biggest.
That honor – or perhaps we should say dishonor – goes to Penn State. Three years in, and it’s the leader in the clubhouse as the biggest sports story of the decade.
A year ago, former Penn State coach Joe Paterno was revered. He was major college football’s winningest coach, an avuncular figure destined for historical immortality. A year later, with his hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil, see-no-evil approach to someone who was evil personified – i.e. his former longtime assistant Jerry Sandusky – Paterno has gone from historical immortality to historical infamy and ignominy.
He was also summarily fired.
And then, shortly thereafter, he died
Not a good year for JoePa.
I wish I could muster up some sympathy, but there’s just none left over. It’s all used up for those boys Sandusky sexually molested right under Paterno’s and Penn State’s noses, even while they knew. (Click this link to read my column on Paterno’s grand jury testimony).
If you know coaches and you know athletic departments, you know that stuff like that doesn’t stay secret. They knew. Maybe not everything. But they knew enough. More than enough.
So, just like that, Paterno is now disgraced and proud Penn State football has been disassembled by the NCAA.
Football will never be the same again for the Nittany Lions.
But don’t feel sorry for them.
Instead, feel sorry for those childhoods Sandusky stole and those lives that’ll never be the same.
And what were some of the other big sports stories from the last time planet Earth stood in this same position from the sun? Well, here’s a few:
— The NBA lockout that resulted in two lost weeks from the regular season and a truncated, out-of-sync schedule after that.
— The wildest and most wonderful final day of MLB’s regular season that put an exclamation point on an epic collapse by the Boston Red Sox while producing a scintillating series of events that energized the great game going into the postseason.
— College football’s conference realignments and a needed extra postseason game to produce a BCS Champion. (Just watch, it’ll be a huge hit.)
— Peyton Manning’s departure from Indianapolis and arrival in Denver, which resulted in Tim Tebow’s trade from the Broncos to the New York Jets.
— After Jim Tressel resigned in disgrace from Ohio State, the Buckeyes brought Urban Meyer out of that ridiculous retirement he wanted us to believe he was in. (Can a two-time NCAA championship head coach possibly be any less popular at their former school than Urban Meyer is at Florida?)
— The New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal.
— Legendary linebacker Junior Seau’s suicide and the growing concern – not to mention lawsuits – over NFL injuries, particularly concussions.
— Iconic Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt stepped down after revealing she’d been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
— Tiger Woods ended his three-year PGA winless streak by capturing the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando.
— Yet another Olympics filled with legendary performances, most notably those by Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt.
— In addition to Paterno, there were other notable deaths, significantly Joe Frazier and Al Davis.
— And then there was the Dwightmare in Orlando with the Magic and their superstar center, whom they traded to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday for a bunch of marginal players, some cap room, draft picks and a partridge in a pear tree.
I spent some one-on-one time with Dwight for an Orlando Magazine piece last August (CLICK HERE TO READ THE STORY) and he told me he had dreams of winning an NBA title against Kobe Bryant. Well, as it turns out, he’s likely to win one (or two) with Kobe.
Meanwhile, for the Magic, it doesn’t just mean a bad year for the franchise, but also a bunch of bad years to come.
Yeah, a lot has happened these past 365 days.
Some good, some bad.
Sometimes it turns out to be a combination of both.
Wish me a happy anniversary.