In this week’s edition of “Conversations with Clayton,” I chat with sports journalist and author Jon Hart. Hart is best known for his book Man versus Ball: One Ordinary Guy and His Extraordinary Sports Adventures (2013), a humorous account of his life in sports. Hart publishes widely as a sportswriter, feature writer, and poet.
His recent poem “Sorrentine From the Parking Lot” is fantastic. It really brings one back to the time and place of the University of Vermont’s 2005 upset of Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament.
In a wide-ranging interview, we discuss his career as a sportswriter, bad seats at the Barclays Center, and the heavy lifting of publishing a book.
Clayton Trutor (CT): How did you get involved with sports writing?
Jon Hart (JH): After suffering a few concussions playing rugby at the University of Vermont, I started writing about it for the school paper, The Vermont Cynic. It was fun and much less dangerous.
CT: What piece of work are you the most proud of?
JH: That’s easy. My book: Man versus Ball: One Ordinary Guy and His Extraordinary Sports Adventures @manversusball. The writing was fun but navigating the ins and outs of publishing was heavy lifting.
CT: What led you to write “Man Versus Ball”?
JH: It was a long drawn process, and there were several pivotal moments. Hawking concessions at Yankee Stadium inspired me in a major way. There’s a game on the field, and then there’s a game in the stands, which most are oblivious to.
CT: What advice do you give to people just dipping their toes into sports writing for the first time?
JH: When I’m asked for advice and give it, most seem to not want it. Ultimately, people do what they want to do. Regardless, here’s some. Crush it on social media. Write what you’re passionate about which hopefully has a potential audience.
CT: When you think of Cincinnati, you think of___________.
JH: The Big Red Machine and the Bearcats.
CT: Describe your greatest sports video game victory.
JH: Sadly, I cannot recall any sports video game victories. In that area, I’m just not a winner.
CT: What are the worst seats you’ve ever had at a sporting event?
JH: A friend took me to a Nets game at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn a few years ago. We were up high, and our sightline was partially blocked. Watching was a chore, however, Barclays has great grub.
Check out Jon Hart’s work at his personal website or his pair of Twitter feeds: @ManVersusBall and @Hairology30. Go buy his fascinating book, Man versus Ball: One Ordinary Guy and His Extraordinary Sports Adventures. Immediately.