[BYD] What ‘The American Dream’ means to Emmy-winning ESPN Editor Jay Lovinger.


Jay LovingerJay Lovinger is the man behind some of sports journalism’s greatest work. He’s a senior editor at ESPN.com and works primarily on enterprise stories, and he’s worked with some amazing talent on some amazing stories over the years, including Hunter S. Thompson. He’s 70, almost 71, and he’s been working as an editor for more than 40 years now. He has won, along with other contributors, four Emmys for a project he ran for ESPN called E-Ticket.

He was also the next-to-last top editor of LIFE, he started and edited a new Sunday Magazine for The Washington Post, and he helped start Inside Sports, where he edited David Halberstam, Gary Smith, Pete Dexter, Frederick Exley and Richard Ford, among others. By the time it folded in 1982, he was the No. 2 editor behind John Walsh, who founded Inside Sports and is now a top editor at ESPN.

In short: Jay’s widely regarded in the journalism community as one of the best editors working today.

I’ve been lucky enough to work with him on a story before myself, “East Side Story.”

Last week I posted an announcement launching the “Behind Your Drive” series, and in it I asked the question What does ‘the American Dream’ mean to you today? 

Jay shot me a quick response by email, and short though it may be, contrasted with what he’s accomplished over the past few decades, it’s pretty great:

I came from a poor family, with no real role models for success, no connections, no money, and I flunked out of a New York state school. Then I screwed around for 10-12 years — drugs, gambling, typical ’60s multi-partner (sometimes at one time) sex life. In other words, going nowhere — and not even fast.

But I was smart, and I was able to reinvent myself. This, to me, is the American Dream — that anyone, at least in theory, CAN reinvent themselves. No iron-clad caste system, etc.

Many thanks to Jay for reading and for sharing his take.

And thanks to you excellent folks for reading, too.

More BYD coming soon.

This is one post in a series called “Behind Your Drive” that explores what the American Dream looks like today, produced in conjunction with the coming launch of my new book, “Behind The Drive: An Honest Story About What It Really Takes To Chase The American Dream,” out in December.