Pat Forde’s passion is college sports. Specifically football and basketball.
He blogs, twitters and discusses them in length. And his skills have carried him to the national stage.
“If I complain about my current job, shoot me,” said Forde, 45, who is married with three children. “I work for the industry leader in sports coverage, where they never think small and never plead poverty as an excuse for not doing the job right. The impact of ESPN is amazing.”
Forde is a 1983 graduate of Air Academy High School. He grew up watching Air Force Falcon football, and played prep football for the Kadets under future (now former) University of Colorado coach Gary Barnett. Perhaps that is why Forde developed such a passion for the college game.
“I have way too many good memories about the area,” said Forde, who vacationed here this summer with his family. “I really think I enjoyed everything about it. I would not trade a minute of my childhood in Colorado Springs for anything.”
And that includes his experiences with his coaches.
“Coach Barnett was such a charismatic coach and a very important person to me growing up,” Forde said. “We remain in touch. I also played basketball at Air Academy for Mike Lynch and loved that experience as well.”
Forde, a senior sports columnist for ESPN.com, specializes in college sports and horse racing. He also is a regular contributor to television broadcasts across the ESPN platform. He is especially excited about college football season, which gets underway next weekend.
“I do love this time of year, and I have all my life,” Forde said. “There's nothing like the start of football season. College basketball ends better, with March Madness, but the anticipation at this time of year for football is as thrilling now as it was when I was playing youth football games in Memorial Park for Air Academy Junior High.”
At a time when much of the news industry is contracting, Forde has found his place among the stars. Prior to joining ESPN in 2004, he enjoyed a highly successful career as a sports writer and columnist at the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky. He left after 17 years, having won 16 national awards from the Associated Press Sports Editors. His work has twice been included in the annual “Best American Sports Writing” book and in 1990 he was nominated for a Pulitzer.
“I was lucky enough to be ahead of the curve, so to speak, in leaving the daily newspaper world,” said Forde, a 1987 graduate of the University of Missouri. “I still consider myself a print journalist at heart, and will go to my grave with figurative ink on my fingers. I grew up reading the Colorado Springs Sun, the Gazette-Telegraph and the Denver Post. That's where I first fell in love with sports writing.”
Forde, who lives in Louisville, travels extensively for ESPN and continues to be amazed by the network’s ability to cover the news.
“When ESPN mobilizes to cover breaking news, it’s something to see,” he said. “The greatest advantages to ESPN.com are the lack of limitations. Deadlines and space are never problems, so we can cover events and issues in much greater detail than newspapers. Especially night games. Our travel budget is robust, so we go places where newspapers no longer go to report stories. The only minuses for me are the increased travel, which can be difficult with a wife and three kids. I miss a lot of stuff.”
Forde recently completed his first book with Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino called “Rebound Rules.” He also has an ever increasing television role with ESPN.
“Seriously, five years from now I very much hope to still be writing sports and doing TV work for ESPN at that point,” he said. “I suspect there might be another book or two in the pipeline sometime. But man, it is hard to find the time to do books on top of a full-time job.
“Give me 15 years and I might be moved back to Colorado by then. We’ll see.”