(tougher than leather)

Did you know that former “Around The Horn” fixture / Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti learned to read at the age of 3?  That Michael Jordan allegedly used his columns for motivation? These are just a couple of the tidbits Mariotti tosses into his latest effort for ChicagoSide.com, in which he professes his deep love for the craft of sportswriting, despite having, “had my life threatened so often by cowardly cyber assassins, many from the South Side, that I’ve decided to have my ashes scattered at U.S. Cellular Field.”

Being in the sports media, which included eight years on ESPN TV and 17 at the Sun-Times and a zillion radio shows, has made me a comfortable living for more than a quarter-century. It has paid for my daughters’ college education, allowed me to globetrot on the job like Anthony Bourdain, and given me entree to exceptional people and opportunities. But the reason I still like sports writing has nothing to do with money or perks. The ongoing dramas of organized competition reflect life in its rawest form—meaning nothing, really, to the ultimate condition of the world yet evoking mass reaction that keeps emotional juices flowing like no other genre. What would you want me to write about, Obama and Romney? My subjective objectivity would be shot down as biased by rotten political media types with agendas. Music? Yeah, I want to try explaining the Katy Perry phenomenon. Business? Only if fortified by a steady stream of Zoloft. Hollywood? Phonies everywhere.

Sports writing is a lifelong passion for me, assuming my life lasts much longer. Why do I like it? Because I’m pretty good at it, when others are not.

Though I’m genuinely thrilled to know Mariotti won’t be tackling “the Katy Perry phenomenon” any time soon (BULLET DODGED, EMP POP CONFERENCE!) it should be said that his latest work proves he can actually go an entire day without making one single reference to the myriad of ways women can falsely accuse men of assault.

Then again, it’s not even noon on the West Coast.