Chico Harlan was 26 years old when a college buddy at the Washington Post helped bring him aboard as the paper’s chief Nationals correspondent, which is either an amazing job or something much shittier, depending on how you feel about interviewing Austin Kearns 190 times a year or trying to capture the magnificence of an Adam Dunn practical joke while on deadline. It’s not necessarily a job I’d want, probably, but one of my big shortcomings in general is that I kind of can’t come up with any jobs I’d necessarily want.
But for most people who want to write about sports a full-time gig at the Post at that age would be pretty sweet. The downside of it, besides the aforementioned Kearns-interviewing and the possibility of being dissed in a Lastings Milledge song: you’re still 26 when you have the job, which means you’re kind of still figuring out how to be a person. When I was 26, I was punching in hung-over at Topps every day and doing laundry like five times a year. (If I’d done something cooler when I was that age, believe me, I’d mention it) When Chico Harlan was 26 — which is right about now, for those just joining us — he was all brash and youngish and self-conscious and therefore prone to saying impertinent and stupid things to reporters for weird D.C. area magazines. Things like this, which he said to the Washingtonian’s Harry Jaffe in an article that went up today:
œI don™t like sports”I am embarrassed that I cover them. I can™t wait to stop. It is a means to an end and a paycheck.
So…whoops, right? Harlan apologizes for misjudging the thin line between “candor” and “baffling, potentially career-killing snobbery” in a post at his WaPo Nats blog:
The quote is accurate. The sentiment is not. I have nothing but gratitude and appreciation for my job. I know I’m lucky as heck to do what I do…Maybe it’s worth explaining the conversation that led me to the I-hate-sports declaration. When I first started talking to Harry Jaffe, the journalist who talked to me for the piece, we were discussing my background, my childhood love for baseball, the fact that I played it as a teenager, etc. I didn’t want to be portrayed, though, as some central casting sportswriter: the sort who always dreamed of athletic glory, lacked the skills, and chose the next best thing. That’s not me. I wanted the make the point that I have other interests, many more. I suppose I made that point with an inartful tap of the sledgehammer.
I remember when I wanted to appear to be…some way or other. I do my laundry more often now, at least. Thanks to Garey Ris — who does the WSJ’s Daily Fix when I’m not doing it (I did it today, he does it Tuesday) — for the links.