Friday, June 5, 2009

Catching up with Le Batard

by Jordan Mason

Radio show host Dan Le Batard said he never shies away from an uncomfortable topic. And he was no different in a conference call with the Sports Journalism Institute on Friday.

Le Batard managed to include a conversation he once had on the sex life of a UFC wrestler when he interviewed him for a story in his chat with the class of 2009.

The University of Miami graduate said he is fascinated by the interactions between different ethnicities in sports and the dynamics of these relationships. His views on these topics have earned him the title of an apologist for athletes from a few of his peers in the media. But Le Batard said his approach has had benefits in relating to subjects.

His most interesting example was his eye-catching feature on running back Edgerrin James when James played for the Indianapolis Colts. The story made national headlines as James admitted that on one particular play where he was told to fall down after he got the first down, he instead ran for a touchdown, saying he heard a cash register ringing the entire way.

Le Batard admits players may feel safer with him during such admissions because they believe they can relate to him better than the average reporter. “But that did not by any means mean that I had anything in common with him,” Le Batard said.

Le Batard does not see himself as an apologist for anyone—athlete or reporter. He said that what his peers often perceive as him justifying erratic behavior in sports is simply him trying to explain such behavior. He said he will attempt to do this rather than judge a person for his/her actions.

Does that endear him to the athletes he interviews?

On occasion. But he will still not shy away from the difficult subjects.

If you don’t believe him, just ask home run record holder Giant Barry Bonds, who Le Batard said resorts to crying nearly every time he interviews him.

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