It’s the birthday of the sports writer Grantland Rice (books by this author), born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee (1880). The most popular sports writer of his day, he wrote an estimated 67 million words in his 53-year career. In 1925, when other newspapermen were happy with a weekly salary of $50, Grantland Rice was making $1,000 a week, about the same as Babe Ruth.
He was known for the extravagant style he used to describe sporting events; he once compared four Notre Dame football players to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. And in addition to his newspaper articles, he also wrote many poems about sports. The well-known saying “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game” originated with his poem “Alumnus Football,” which ends with the lines: “For when the One Great Scorer comes / To write against your name, / He marks — not that you won or lost — / But how you played the game.”
Grantland Rice’s own favorite sport was golf. He wrote: “Golf is 20 percent mechanics and technique. The other 80 percent is philosophy, humor, tragedy, romance, melodrama, companionship, camaraderie, cussedness, and conversation.”