Doug Wolter: Retirement, what a concept!
The old Globe sports writer, columnist and lover of Worthington is finally becoming a civilian.
It’s an odd stage of life, I think. You spend your entire life expected to behave a certain way, but suddenly you’re free to make your own choices.
When you’re a baby, a toddler, an adolescent and a teen-ager, you fall clearly under the authority of your parents. If you continue your education in college, responsibilities are still front and center. And when you take a full-time job, that, too, controls you.
But when you retire, you’re finally your own boss.
Well, for a while, at least. When you enter your final stage of life, it’s your kids’ responsibility to look after you. What goes around comes around, I guess.
Today, Wednesday, March 1, I am officially retired from nearly 50 years in journalism, 32 years of which were spent at The Globe of Worthington.
I’m not kidding you: It’s going to be weird for a while.
Big changes aren’t easy. I was quite miffed, for instance, when baseball first ushered in the designated hitter. When cassettes replaced 8-tracks, I balked. And when I became too old to compete with twentysomethings on the men’s fast-pitch softball circuit, I regretted the day. I’m 66 now and actually looking forward to my retirement years, but I’m a little worried that I’ll have too much time on my hands.
I have many interests. I’m writing my 10th book. I like to play tennis. I love to play my guitar. I’ve got several books I’ve lined up on my shelf waiting for me to open. I’ve got a couple of part-time work options available if I decide I’m interested. And if new Globe sports editor Dominic Burns (who’ll be excellent) wants me to cover an athletic contest or two, I’ll do my best to make myself ready.
Mostly, I’ll be able to spend more time with my family. I’ll no longer have to miss family outings because I need to cover a sports event. And best of all, I’ll be able to watch my grandsons Jake, Tyson and Nixon participate in their traveling team sports whenever I want.
It almost seems like yesterday that this Allendorf, Iowa, native began writing a weekly sports column while still in high school. That was in the early 1970s. Being young and naive, I thought my column was wonderful back then, but years later I realized that I had a very long way to go before I became the writer that I wanted to be. That’s the way it goes.
For most of my newspaper career, begun full-time in 1979 after graduation from Mankato State University, my arena was sports. I started as a sports editor with the Long Prairie Leader before joining the Cottonwood County Citizen, then went to Worthington as a sports writer, sports editor, news editor and managing editor, and then worked for seven years as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press.
But I desired more writing opportunities. I was able to return to The Globe in 2013 as a sports editor again, and it has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. My wife, Sandy, and I love living in Worthington.
What’s more, I love writing. I love journalism. I always will. And I hope the current state of journalism returns to what it was in better days -- days I fondly remember, when reporters were taught to strive for objectivity.
These days, many media outlets have traded objectivity for bias, choosing to push a preferred narrative rather than present the facts. It’s an embarrassment to me, and I think it’s a major reason the profession is undergoing a crisis of confidence.
I sincerely hope we all can continue to trust The Globe. I believe it’s in very good hands, and I expect that it always will be.
But what a whirlwind it has been. Since I broke into full-time newspapering in 1979, the changes that have taken place have been amazing. At The Globe, for instance, I’ve gone from pasting up my own pages to transferring stories digitally for a Fargo, N.D., designer to design. And we’ve gone from printing six newspapers a week to just one Wednesday edition a week. But we still give our readers stories every day, even if they’re only online.
I still miss many of the people I worked with throughout my newspaper career. In Worthington, I rubbed elbows with some true giants, like Bill Brower, Paul Gruchow, Ray Crippen and Lew Hudson. What’s more, the friendships I’ve made with the coaches and the players that I covered will keep me going for years.