Joe Biddle has been covering sports in Nashville since 1979. He has personally witnessed Nashville emerge as a major metropolitan area that went from having no major professional sports to having two, the NFL's Tennessee Titans and the NHL's Nashville Predators.
Biddle's humor and perspective have been a blessing to the changing landscape of sports in middle Tennessee. Swampland Sports is honored to present this profile.
Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
I was born and grew up in Johnson City, TN., also home of someone named Steve Spurrier.
What was your definition of "big time" sports as a kid?
I'm not sure I had a definition at that time. We got Yankees baseball games and Redskins NFL games on TV. Those were my favorite teams.
When did you decide you wanted to write about sports?
It was relatively late in life. I went to college four years, changed majors frequently and starting my senior year was going to get drafted.
Joined the Air Force, spent a year in Vietnam, got out and still had no clue what I wanted to do. Was 26 at this time. ETSU had started a journalism degree, a buddy told me about the classes and at the same time I got a part time job at Johnson City Press Chronicle in their sports department. Knew nothing about sports journalism, but was thrown into the fire in a hurry. Found out I really enjoyed it, had an aptitude for it and the rest is history.
What writers inspired you to become a writer? Who are the writers that inspire you now?
There weren't any writers who inspired me to enter the profession. Writers I enjoy are David Maraniss, the late Fred Russell, Furman Bisher, Tom McEwen, the late Willie Morris and Edwin Pope. I can't leave out the late Lewis Grizzard, funniest man in print ever.
Can you compare the allure of pro vs college sports inside the markets you've covered?
When professional teams come into a college town, the colleges are the ones that usually suffer. It has happened here with the Titans, costing Vanderbilt, MTSU, even Tennessee space in the sports section and fans.
As a sports columnist vs a beat writer, what do you see as your duty to the sports fans in your market (Nashville)?
As a sports columnist I prefer entertaining and informing in a variety of ways. By humor, by satire, by putting the hammer down, by throwing changeups. I love good people stories and bringing them to life in print. I can be serious when situation calls for it but try to include humor in my columns.
Do you think the Predators would be better off being placed in the division with Atlanta, Carolina, Tampa, and Florida so that regional rivalries could develop?
It might not matter because unless there is dramatic uptick in home game attendance, the Predators will be moved out of Nashville. If they stay, they have a great rivalry with Detroit because of all the transplanted auto workers in this area.
Will Vanderbilt ever become a serious contender in either football or basketball?
Odds are heavy against Vandy competing for championships, even bowl games, in football. Simply in the wrong conference for success. [They're the o]nly private, academically challenging university in the SEC. They can, and have, competed in basketball. And, don't dare forget that NCAA national championship in women's bowling.
Visit Joe Biddle at the Nashville Tennessean's website: