Miami Herald sports columnist and ESPN commentator Dan Le Batard is taking a year-long leave of absence from his column so, according to a memo sent out to the newspaper's newsroom yesterday evening, he can "have more balance in his life."
Here's the memo from Miami Herald Sports Editor Jorge Rojas:
From: Rojas, Jorge - Miami
Sent: Wednesday, April 16, 2008 5:13 PM
To: MIA Newsroom
Subject: dan le batard
TIME AWAY: After many years of juggling a large variety of responsibilities all over the map, Dan Le Batard will be taking a leave of absence so that he can have more balance in his life. We will be without his services for one year starting May 15. The good news is that he will be back doing 20 Questions and online chats before we know it. He says he still hopes to write occasionally, a la Dave Barry. No word on whether any of South Florida's sports teams will be any good by the time Dan returns.
Le Batard has been juggling his column-writing duties with extensive work for ESPN. Stephen Rodrick, in an excellent 2005 Slate piece on how TV is killing the newspaper sports column, summed up Le Batard's duties this way:
As far as I can tell, the gifted Dan Le Batard is a Miami Herald columnist, writes a twice-monthly column for ESPN Magazine, hosts a Sunday morning show on ESPN Radio, is a guest host on PTI, and has a daily drive-time show with somebody named Stugotz on Miami's 790 AM. How can you be on the radio with Stugotz and stake out Shaq's stool at the same time?
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Something had to give and, in this case, it was the Miami Herald, according to author and journalist Robert Andrew Powell, who shared his perspective on the matter with the Pulp:
This is an issue that's talked about A LOT in sports journalism. These guys like LeBatard, they use their newspaper gigs as springboards to bigger things, but they know that without the imprint of their newspapers they'd have no substance or credibility -- they wouldn't get the bigger opportunities. LeBatard long ago leapt up to TV and radio gigs -- lucrative gigs -- that make local newspaper column writing seem boring and irrelevant. It's no surprise that he's wants out of the paper duties. What's absolutely remarkable ... is that the Herald is letting him continue to have an association with the paper. So LeBatard gets the all-important newspaper credibility without doing the work.
Whatever you think, it is certainly sad the way TV chatter is killing the sports page -- and this is certainly another example of the trend.
The move hasn't been reported by the Miami Herald yet.