Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Much-needed perspective - by Ken Gordon, Columbus Dispatch

If you're lucky enough to know Larry Larson, then you probably know by now that Larry lost his wife recently after her long battle with cancer.

Larry is a central Ohio media mogul, reporting for 610-WTVN radio and writing columns for various suburban newspapers. He's known as "Mr. High School Sports." He's relentlessly positive, always quick with a smile and a "Hi, Kenny" and a killer handshake.

I saw Larry on Saturday for the first time since his wife had passed. I offered condolences, of course. He said it's very hard to be at home alone. One little memory sets him off.

Then Larry started talking about what has kept him going through these trying days: His job. As he put it, he "gets" to get up every morning and go out -- to a high school soccer field, maybe the Capital or Wittenberg football field, to Ohio State football interviews. Later this fall, he will be a regular at Blue Jackets practices and games.

And he spoke of how excited he gets to be in these places, to talk to these people.

I stood there and reflected. I've been a sportswriter for 17-plus years now, and I get jaded at times. It's not as glamorous as you think. We spend hours sitting around waiting for people to come talk to us. We spend countless more hours playing back tape of interviews and hunched in front of a computer screen. It can wear you down.

But as Larry talked about the thrill of standing on the sidelines in the final minutes of the 2006 Ohio State-Michigan game, suddenly the hair stood up on my arms. I felt it, too. I remembered those times when you truly feel blessed to be part of something so grand.

And here's a man, I don't know how old, but he's been around a lot longer than I have, who still feels that way about covering sports. The grief of missing his wife is so fresh and raw that tears are welling, yet his eyes are sparkling as he talks about how lucky he is to have this job.

As I walked away that day, I realized I had forgotten to tell him something. So now I will:

Thanks, Larry.

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