Behind the toothy grin and sweater vest of Rick Reilly's tiny photograph exists a true genius who has turned sarcasm into a veritable artform. Part stand-up comic, part social commentator, and part "Chicken Soup for the Soul", Reilly is an extraordinary journalist who uses his Sports Illustrated column to show readers what is both right and wrong in the world today. While most of his columns are sports-related, his ability to use organised sports as a microcosm of the real world allows Reilly to tackle issues that are just as relevant outside the arena. Sometimes, his columns are just plain hysterical, sometimes they leave you thinking, some make you cry, and others leave you feeling inspired. It wouldn't be an overstatement to call Reilly the funniest and most socially relevant sportswriter of his time.
Reilly has also written two novels, a golf romance entitled Missing Links, and a novel called Slo-Mo: My Untrue Story, which is about a basketball player. He's also had a compilation of his best columns and features published in a book entitled The Life of Reilly, which features a foreword by former NBA star Charles Barkley. He has also co-authoured a number of sports stars' autobiographies, including those of Charles Barkley and Wayne Gretzky.
Reilly attended the University of Colorado, and wrote for a number of daily newspapers before joining Sports Illustrated as a columnist in 1985. His weekly column, The Life of Reilly, has graced the final page of Sports Illustrated for the past 17 years, and it is the only running column in the history of the magazine. He has been voted National Sportswriter of the Year seven times.
"The NBA in-house magazine, Hoop, admitted airbrushing out Allen Iverson's diamond earrings, neck tattoo and necklace before using his picture on its cover. But why stop at tattoos? Let's straighten his hair! Hell, let's just make him white! Next month in Hoop, NBA three-point leader Tom Cruise!"
-"Still in there Chuckin'", December 18, 2000.
"Sometimes we're not even White Guys. We're White Boys. In his book Shaq Talks Back, Shaquille O'Neal wrote, 'If you get dunked on by a white boy, you got to come home to your friends and hear it.' Hilarious! Of course it wouldn't be nearly as funny if, say, [ NBA comissioner ] David Stern wrote in his book, 'If you get outnegotiated by a black boy, you got to go to the country club and hear it.' He'd be taped naked to the hood of Jesse Jackson's car. Still, was Shaq rocked by scandal? Did principals pull the book out of school libraries? Nah. Because all us crackers know it's true! Besides, anytime you can slip in the phrase white boy these days, it's just damn funny...We White Guys have faced it. We're wack at most everything. Basically the only thing we dominate now is stuff black people don't have the right clothes to try -- lumberjack contests and luge. But we shred documents like nobody's damn business!"
-"White Like Me", February 4, 2002.
"Everything in skating now is so asexual. Men can't wear tights (Brian Boitano Rule) and can't show armpit or chest hair...If you start censoring figure skating, what about the rest of the Olympics? Have you taken a look at the two-man luge? It's two men in lycra suits tight enough to tell if they have innies or outies, with one lying directly on top of the other! Olympic male swimmers wear about 29 cents worth of material. Is that indecent?...And, my God, what about Jesper Parnevik's golf pants?"
-"Dirty Dancing", January 21, 2002.
"Then a really outrageous service was held at Sunday's Super Bowl, where a group of Giants knelt and prayed as Bills kicker Scott Norwood attempted a 47-yarder, as time ran out, to win the game. Is praying for somebody to blow it very Christian? Does the Lord have something against Norwood? Now, I don't know about your God, but I'm not sure mine has time to consider wind direction and trajectory at NFL football games. It has been kind of a busy month."
-"Save Your Prayers, Please", February 4, 1991.