Mike Lupica has done almost everything a sportswriter can do. He has written a newspaper column for more than 40 years, co-written books with sports legends Reggie Jackson and Bill Parcells, and hosted a television sports show.
I talked to Lupica last week before he spoke to a roomful of fans at the Chevy Chase Library in Maryland.
KidsPost: Did you play sports as a kid?
Mike Lupica: I played baseball, basketball, one year of football and ran cross-country. But my best sport was probably golf.
KP: How did you get into sportswriting?
ML: I tell kids my journalism school was that I wrote for three school newspapers when I was at Boston College. I also wrote articles for the Boston Globe and Boston Phoenix [newspapers].
After college, I went to New York, and a week later I was covering the New York Knicks [basketball team].
KP: What did you learn as a kid that helps you as a sportswriter?
ML: All I ever wanted to do was to write. So when I was 10 years old, I was writing mysteries and adventures with me as the main character. In high school, I wrote columns of one-liners that are similar to my “Shooting From the Lip” columns now.
KP: Why did you start writing sports books for kids?
ML: I had no plans to write for kids. Then my son got cut from a basketball travel team. Two days later, I was telling [National Basketball Association] Coach Jeff Van Gundy about my son. He said, “If this was a movie, you would take all the kids who got cut, make your own team, and they would win the big game.”
So I took all the kids who had been cut, hired a coach and became the general manager of a rogue travel team.
KP: How did the team do?
ML: They got better. In the last game, they beat a team that had crushed them at the beginning of the season. They had been knocked down, but they got up.
But I couldn’t let go of the story of the team. The story became “Travel Team,” my first book for kids. It sold 500,000 copies and changed my life as a writer.
KP: Your latest book — “Lone Stars” — is about concussions and brain injuries in football. Why did you write about that?
ML: The book is my way to get in on the conversation parents and kids are having about football. The book is not preachy; it just lays things out. Clay’s mother is an important character. She is a football fan, but she is also a mom.
KP: What do you want kids to get out of your books?
ML: The solid foundations of any childhood: friendship and loyalty. If you are not a good friend and teammate, you are going to have trouble in my books.
Bowen writes the sports opinion column for KidsPost. He is the author of 22 sports books for kids.