Tate: You haven't heard the last of me just yet

Tate: You haven't heard the last of me just yet

Elephants have the right idea.

When their time comes, they shuffle off to their designated area — no matter the distance — and pass quietly from the scene. There's a certain dignity about it.

I'm not yet ready for that, for sure, but I mistakenly thought I could do Douglas MacArthur's "old soldier" bit and let 51-year-old Tatelines fade unnoticed from the writing scene.

What I learned is that decisions made at 3:30 in the morning — couldn't sleep, and was thinking clearly, though that pre-dawn wedge of time can be more dream than sharp decision time— are often not fully thought out. As I learned later, the intended burial of Tatelines didn't go quietly. Some 76 responses before 6 p.m. reminded of mandatory praise over an open casket.

Come on gang, I wasn't that good. And I'm still around to prove it.

High praise

Imagine Tom Kacich, twice the journalist I am, saying, "You are a role model, journalistically and in terms of lifestyle, to all of us in so many ways: your energy, your passion, your memory, your writing skill, your ability to have so many sources from so many generations."

Tom, you should have saved that for my wake when exaggeration is routine.

And Jane Hayes Rader: "Your knowledge and your wordsmanship are unparalleled, and you will forever be the icon of Illini sports who let all the rest of us know the real scoop."

Accustomed as I am to controversy and criticism, can you imagine 76 trombones so in tune. OK, all weren't that flowery. But every one seemed sincere.

John Groce checked in after all those tough columns about Illini basketball. So did Bill Cubit. Nine former Illini coaches in all, from Harv Schmidt to Greg McMahon. And I received glowing comments from Alton and Jacksonville newspapers that have carried my column since 1980.

It's the right time

Why would I stop now?

There's no single answer, but rather a pileup of reasons.

Age plays a huge part. I'll be 86 in November. As I wrote in the Clive Follmer column back in August, age becomes a burden. It drags a fellow down. I checked Thursday's obits and, of 16 persons with ages listed, 15 were younger than 85. It's that way most days. The wick burns lower.

Nearly all the Illini basketball stars of my era are gone — Follmer, Don Sunderlage, Irv Bemoras, Red Kerr, Jim Bredar, Bob Peterson. The same with my baseball buddies.

My dad barely passed 30 (tuberculosis), and my step-dad died at 63. Without being maudlin, common sense says I need to back off. I am reminded again of the late Tommy Stewart's comment: "We're in overtime."

A young man's game

It's been pure fun right up until now. I'm not sure what happened.

For one thing, I'm losing touch with the younger generation. Can you imagine what Lovie Smith's prize freshmen are thinking when this octogenarian comes snooping around?

Scott Richey and Bob Asmussen do a much better job in dealing with them.

And face facts: It isn't easy writing about a football program so outmanned (gave up 680 yards to South Florida in Friday's loss) that ESPN shifted to the equally lopsided Arizona-UNLV game with Illinois trailing 47-15 and nearly eight minutes remaining.

Four columns a week consumed me. I lived each one like Daniel Day-Lewis playing a role ... never satisfied, dealing with it around the clock.

Then I'd read a Jim Dey editorial or a Paul Klee column and wonder, "How do they do that every day?"

What's next?

So I cashed in. Or thought I did. Roaring around the corner comes the world's most dynamic boss, Jim Rossow, twisting my arm and refusing to take "no" for an answer.

He wrestled this Sunday column out of me, and threatened my life and all my kin if I don't write one every Sunday. I am not comfortable about the idea. But he is mighty persuasive.

We'll see. Meanwhile, I'll do as much radio as I'm permitted, try to come up with some podcasts, and I will take seriously the word of poet Dylan Thomas:

"Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Loren Tate writes for The News-Gazette. He can be reached at ltate@news-gazette.com.

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Moonpie wrote on September 17, 2017 at 8:09 am

Won't even touch this one.

Bwp 5P wrote on September 17, 2017 at 8:09 am

Well.............I know Moonpie and several others will rejoice in this development. I do wonder what the Pie will do to spew his hate though? Maybe get a puppy to kick?

I've been reading your columns for many years. Didn't always agree, but usually learned something, and usually enjoyed them.

I can imagine how time consuming it is. Here's to a great "semi-retirement" Sir. Thanks for the years!

roach wrote on September 17, 2017 at 10:09 am

Incredible institutional memory provides context for so many thoughtful and well writen columns.  I will greatly miss your commentary and insight.

jjohnson wrote on September 17, 2017 at 2:09 pm

. . . and who else would quote Dylan Thomas in the sports pages? Hang in there, my friend. The Tucson John Johnson

JimOATSfan wrote on September 17, 2017 at 5:09 pm

"I wasn't that good"

So what?

You're OUR ( Illini Nation's ) "I wasn't that good" ... so that makes you beyond special.

I am reminded of a friend who refused to sell his 15 acres with woods and lawns in Massachusetts, because maintaining it kept him young and active. Even in his 70's & 80's. Those old accountants ....

Just carry on at whatever pace keeps the wheels whiring.  As "old ski-nose" was always saying: THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES !

Cheers for Loren Tate

(I trust Loren will remember "old-ski nose" as Bob Hope).

skatsinas wrote on September 17, 2017 at 9:09 pm


Of all the reasons to continue writing, here is the one most compelling to me. If you stop, I will have to acknowledge that I, myself, am getting old.

As long as I can continue to read the same columnist that I read when growing up in the 60's (and Loren, its not true that you were writing when my father, Lex Katsinas, was a child), all is well.

Best of luck, and hope to be reading your columns into my own sunset...


rsp wrote on September 18, 2017 at 2:09 am

Speaking of age, I have a neighbor who is 99, still mows his own yard, walks everyday to visit his sisters, etc. About a year ago someone caught him on his roof trying to do repairs and made him get down. His health seemed to be going down a few years back and family took his car away. That's when he started walking. Literally saved his life. Having goals, activity, is important at every age.

MasterOfTheObvious wrote on September 22, 2017 at 4:09 am

One of the first rules of being a true "journalist" is not being the story, but rather reporting the story.

Too many times over the past decade Tate has allowed himself the vanity bonfire of becoming the story.

Yes, the world will continue to spin on it's axis when Loren Tate's collections of words finally cease to grace Western Civiliazation. 

What will we do to fill the void of his quarterly reminders of all of the people he knew who are now dead?

Or that he has recently checked the obituaries and noticed the ages of the people dying.

To talk about how he cannot suffer the challenge of dealing with young people was quite comical when the very self-centered theme of this, and most Tate pieces of recent years, center around his ME ME ME ME ME mentality, which is ironically, so very millenial. 

See what happened there, we actually could market LOREN TATE, aged nearly 86 years, as the World's First "ULTRA MILLENIAL".

Personally, my thought is, and Tate admitted as much in the body text, he made a rash decision on this in the middle of the night when he could not sleep and had a "moment". Now, with all of the adulation and begging from fans and his boss, he just may indeed NOT be fading away as his admired Elephants do, choosing to linger around like the frangrance from the Central Illinois Baked Bean Festival.

Tate used everyone to draw attention to himself, and get a boost of self worth as he is indeed in the 4th quarter.  This happens with all people of this age demo. Nothing unique here.





dmlawyer wrote on September 25, 2017 at 3:09 pm

What a drama queen....just go away....