When he graduated from Rutgers University in 1972, Richard Kent was forced to make an important decision: take an internship at Sports Illustrated or go to law school.
He chose Boston College School of Law and has become an established matrimonial lawyer over the past 33 years. But ask Kent about his choice back then, and he'll say, "I probably made the wrong decision."
That's because Kent is passionate about sports writing, and he's fortunate enough to have carved out a second career covering athletes and games. His favorite event is the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, and he's spent the past few weeks shuttling between his law office in Fairfield and Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, where he covered matches for the Black Athlete Sports Network.
"I think the U.S. Open is the greatest sporting event in the world," said Kent, 58, who is an avid tennis fan and longtime recreational tennis player.
He also spent time during the U.S. Open tournament selling copies of his most recent book, "Inside the U.S. Open," which was published last December.
Kent also has authored two books on women's college basketball, while covering the women's NCAA basketball tournament every March. He has written as a freelancer for Sports Illustrated and Athlon Sports magazines.
For Kent, writing about sports "is in my blood, clearly, and I needed to stay involved in sports" after he chose law as his profession, he said. "I've worked hard to establish myself in the profession as a tennis writer and as a basketball writer."
$20 A Game
Kent started as a stringer in the 1980s, covering high school football for local weeklies in Fairfield County, earning $20 a game for seven years. Then he turned his sports passion toward the radio and hosted a sports talk show on WYBC on Yale's campus before doing radio commentary for Fairfield University basketball games.
As Kent met more people in sports, he landed more freelance jobs as he built up a name for himself. "I meet people on press row and in press conference rooms," Kent said. "I think I'm good at marketing myself as a writer."
But, he said, "I think [sports writing] would be tougher to get into now because media outlets have closed left and right."
His book-writing career stemmed from a family law case he handled in the mid-1990s. Kent represented John Steinbreder, a former Sports Illustrated writer, in a custody dispute and won the case for his client. Steinbreder then suggested the duo write a book about father's rights, and in 1998, "Fighting For Your Children," was released.
"That's when I thought, 'I should be writing sports books,'" Kent said.
He followed with "Inside Women's College Basketball: Anatomy of a Season," in which he chronicled the 1999-2000 season, focusing on Connecticut, Tennessee, Sacred Heart (in its debut season at the top level of the game) and Rutgers. Then last year, his book detailing the Connecticut-Tennessee basketball rivalry was released, eight months before his U.S. Open book.
Kent said the most significant sports events he's covered are UConn's women's basketball national championships in 2000 and 2002 and three of tennis star Roger Federer's U.S. Open championships.
While Kent bills about 1,500 hours a year in his law practice, he's also logging about 1,000 hours writing some years when he's writing books and covering events. With two adult daughters, Kent has more time to dedicate to his second profession.
He does most of his writing at night and on weekends, but his skills as a lawyer certainly come in handy. "I ask more probing questions than most of the writers," Kent said.
Kent also is branching out into fiction. He's placing the finishing touches on a novel that tells the story of an African-American tennis player from Hartford ascending the ranks of professional The book is due out by December.
Despite his impressive portfolio of published articles and books, Kent has no desire to take up writing as a full-time profession anytime soon.
"I'm not trying to do more, and I'm not close to retirement [from the practice of law]," Kent said. "When I do retire, I'll have something to fall back on."
Source Citation:"Writing About Tennis Is An Act Of Love." Connecticut Law Tribune (Sept 14, 2009): NA. General OneFile. Gale. Alachua County Library District. 19 Sept. 2009
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