Saturday, April 18, 2009

interview with Mike Schikman

One of the perks of writing The Madness of March: Bonding and Betting with the Boys in Las Vegas, is that I have gotten to meet and speak with sports talk hosts in various parts of the country. Last night I was on the air on WSVA 550 a.m. with Mike Schikman on his program Speaking Of. Mike is the voice of the James Madison University Dukes and had read an advance copy of the book when it first came out as an advance copy in January. He had contacted the University of Nebraska Press and we arranged to meet. I had an opportunity to see Mike face to face at the Colonial Athletic Association tournament in Richmond last month. Not only do we share a common interest in sports, but we discovered in another example of "it's a small world" and only "six degrees of separation" that Mike went to high school with one of my first cousins.

Mike, as has been the case with nearly all the radio folks with whom I have spoken, was well prepared for the interview asking questions reflecting his familiarity with the book, insights on sports culture, and an awareness of his listeners' interests. I am not surprised that he has been successful on the air for thirty years.

One question that recurs in these interviews pertains to the pervasiveness of betting and the potential for insidious consequences because of betting. My comment during the interviews is the same as the one I make in the book. The people who travel to Las Vegas for the first weekend of the tournament are first and foremost, fans--not bettors. Yes, they wager on the games, but what draws them to las vegas is the desire to be with like minded zealots for four days watching games that they love to watch. Moreover, I believe that while there have been some negative consequences because of betting--and there are some people who bet too much--the idea that betting should be eliminated is not a well thought out one. It is analogous to prohibiting the consumption of alcoholic beverages because some people abuse alcohol or do destructive things because of drinking excessively.

Mike Schikman and nearly all the other radio hosts have been gracious and very supportive of the book. Mike even mentioned last night that the book would be a great father's day gift. I am sure that the people at the University of Nebraska press would join me in endorsing this recommendation.

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