When former Post and Courier sports columnist and novelist Ken Burger died, it was a particularly crushing day for those who loved reading him. While many tried to eulogize Burger, no one did it quite like NBC Sports columnist Joe Posnanski, the author of the best-selling books Paterno and The Machine. Not only did Posnanski say what so many of us felt, he told us stories about Burger that few, if any of us, had ever heard before. But it was this passage that offered fans insight into Ken’s editorial philosophy:
“All sports columnists were heroes to me, but Kenny was in particular. He lived the only life I ever wanted.
“‘Forget the sports,’ Kenny said. ‘Write about people,’ That’s what he did. I have never known a sportswriter who cared so little about sports. He was surrounded by people (like me) who had gotten into this business, at least in part, because they loved the games. Kenny did not. He got into it because he had just finished being a political writer, and the Charleston paper had a lousy sports section. And the executive editor was an ex-Marine who’d had enough. One day he called Ken into his office and said, ‘Fix it.’
“Ken stayed in it because, he quickly realized, sports gave him a unique opportunity to see people as they really are, under the strain and tension and elation of victory and defeat. People can in daily life spin scandals into triumph, tragedy into political gain, but in sports there is the black and white reality of winning and losing, and Ken loved to see how people handled each.” So long, Ken. We miss you. —Chris Haire
© 2019 Charleston City Paper