In the late 1980s/early ’90s, Mike Sweeney and I were copy editing colleagues at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He’d been working in News but was drafted in late 1987 to move to the Sports department at a time of need — coinciding with my being asked to move from the Features desk to Sports a few months after I arrived as a relative youngster of 26. Mike might not remember it, but I even recall playing pickup basketball with him and other guys from the S-T on the outdoor courts at Randol Mill Park in Arlington.
He’s one of the smartest journalists I’ve ever known, with a wit and an understanding of and appreciation for life that goes beyond pretty much all of us. Mike was a stickler for getting things right — no excuses. He wasn’t a sports guy per se, but he helped raise the level of accuracy in our sports section immensely during his time in the department.
When it comes to getting things right — man, did Mike ever get life right after he left the newspaper business in the early ’90s. He got his Ph.D. in journalism at Ohio U well into his 30s and became a beloved professor there whose wisdom and teachings about both journalism and life are legendary.
Mike, who has been living with terminal cancer for several years, gave the graduate student commencement address at the university last week, and I’m certain you’ve never seen one quite like this. As he begins, Mike turns to a Nobel laureate who, while speaking earlier, commented that he couldn’t remember a word from any commencement he’d ever attended. “Challenge accepted,” said Mike, who then proceeded to give one of the most memorable of addresses.
So, if you have 20 minutes to spare, please watch this — and take to heart his brilliant, moving message. Thank you, Mike!! (Mike’s address begins right around 59 minutes.)