Acclaimed writer to speak to students about his book Heaven is a Playground
David J. Pavlak

Columnist and Author Rick Telander

It’s not often that students have the chance to pick the brain of an accomplished author who was also drafted by the NFL, but that is the opportunity students in the Business of Sports minor will have when Rick Telander visits campus on October 22, 2013.

Telander is the senior sports columnist for the Chicago Sun Times, covering the Chicago Bears. He is also the author of many sports books, including Heaven is a Playground; a book the students in the Intro to the Business of Sports class have been reading. In fact, it was their teacher, A.J. Moore, who reached out to Telander to let him know about the class taking an interest in his book. “I thought it’d be interesting for him to see the work we did in class while reading and analyzing his book. He was so taken by the students’ responses that he soon agreed to come to campus to meet the students in person.”

Heaven is a Playground, currently in its fourth edition, chronicles the youth, urban basketball scene in Brooklyn during the summer of 1973. Sports Illustrated has called the book one of the “Top 100 Sports Books of All Time.”

Junior marketing major Elizabeth Cicalese hopes that Telander’s stories will provide extra emphasis to his book. “I feel as though it's one thing to read what an author has to write, and it's another to hear a person speak about his experiences in person. I am looking forward to having the book come to life for me and my classmates.”  

Over the next few weeks, Telander will be on the east coast covering the Bears as they travel to play the Washington Redskins. According to Moore, the location of Rider has helped in facilitating this visit. “Because we’re located between New York City and Philadelphia and near Washington, we have the ability to bring people in from all over the country.”

Telander, a graduate of Northwestern University, was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1971 but was cut during training camp. The journal Telander kept during training camp was turned into a book, Like a Rose: A Celebration of Football, and was also a featured video on NFL Films.

“First and foremost, any time students can read a book and then talk to the author, you’ve set up a fantastic learning experience,” Moore explains. “It gives them the chance to talk directly to the source and to ask questions, which then often leads to deeper conversation.

 In terms of Telander’s influence on students, Moore feels that has a lot to offer.   “Telander has had a long, distinguished career in sports. His experience, successes and perhaps most importantly, his challenges will give students the chance to talk about handling professional hurdles and setbacks in a positive way.”

John Ahern, a senior communication major, is excited to have Telander speak to the class “I hope to get some advice about how to get started in the world of sports. Hearing from someone who has worked in that field and been widely successful will be amazing. I feel like hearing from him in person will teach us so many more things beyond what we can get from textbook.” 

Telander will be speaking at 4:30 p.m. in Sweigart Hall 117 on October 22, 2013. The event is free and open to the public.

 For more information about the event, contact A.J. Moore at [email protected].