In a time before we became devotees of Brunt or Blair or Neate or the Drunks or the Ghostrunners, the one sports column that we couldn't miss was William Houston's Truth and Rumours in the Globe and Mail.
It could have been the goofy-scratchy cartoons that accompanied the column in those days, but more likely, it was the fact that Houston's focus hit us exactly in the sweet spot of our twin obsessions with sports and media. We always thought that Houston had the coolest job in Canadian media, which isn't to say that it was a piece of cake to do what he did. If you are going to step up and deliver critiques of the sports media, you have to be pretty damned sure that your own work is spot on and beyond reproach, and Houston delivered the goods with each and every piece he wrote. (Even the ones the ones that he wrote multiple times, like his "Women in Sportscasting" piece that ran every 18 months or so.)
Houston's work was absolutely vital over the past decade, as the media lanscape evolved rapidly in Canada. With three national sports networks and a slew of digital channels coming online, not to mention the sports radio boom (and in the case of the Team network, the bust), an almost incalculable number of sports websites as well as the faltering fate of the once-promising satellite radio enterprises, Houston has scribed about sports media in the most interesting of times.
With the news coming this week (via Neate, via Cox Bloc, via the Fan 590's Howard Berger) that Houston has accepted a buy out and will leave the Globe effective February 1, we're more than a bit sad at the prospect of not having the opportunity to read his incredibly well-reported, insightful and witty views on Canada's sports media.
Because, you know, if Bill's not there, who the hell is going to keep watch on the number of times Martine Gaillard misuses the term "literally" in the run of a broadcast? Or to call Mike Toth to account for...well...being Mike Toth?
We're hopeful that Houston's will continue to grace us with his knowledge in some other capacity. (If you need someone to walk you through using blogging software, we're happy to volunteer our services, Mr. Houston). But we would also respect the fact that maybe the man just wants to shut off all of the TV's, radios and computers in his house and catch up on his reading for a while.
Whatever the case, we want to thank William Houston for sharing his talent and his hard work with us over these past few decades. We hope to see you again soon.