The games went on Friday night.
There were winners and there were losers. There were tears of joy and tears of sadness.
Some of them were ours.
As many of you know by now, one of the bright lights in the Iowa sports writing arena went dark in the pre-dawn hours Friday when Jim Sullivan abruptly left us after 32 years at The Courier. About the time he was wrapping up our Friday sports pages, he went down with an apparent heart attack. He did not get up.
Sully won’t be in the press box when the next high school phenom breaks into the headlines on our Courier sports pages. He won’t be there to entertain us with a clever tweet. He won’t be there to tell the story and turn another of the thousands of games he’s covered for us into something memorable and something special.
Sully won’t be at his desk here at the Courier commiserating with me about another Minnesota Twins meltdown, chatting up his Minnesota Vikings with parttime sportswriter Rod Payne or analyzing the Green Bay Packers’ prospects for the coming season with our nighttime janitor, Rich.
He won’t be singing the praises of Santana or Nils Lofgren. And he won’t be cracking wise on social media about the Olympics or trading hilarious barbs and puns with his fellow sports writers from around the state.
Many of you knew Sully well, or at least crossed paths with him over the years. He likely touched your lives with his sense of humor, his love of all sports or his writing. Whether it was the NCAA basketball tournament or a feature story about something far less prominent, it received the same attention and effort and interest from Sully. He could go anywhere and do anything and do it well.
As sports writers go, he set the standard. Awards? He won them all and some of them more than once.
Some of those plaques are buried among the six inches of old newspapers and press guides and notes that cover his desk. While I am sure he appreciated the awards, I am certain he enjoyed the stories they represented far more.
I could use adjectives like dedicated and gifted and witty and professional, but another comes to the forefront — respect. Respect isn’t often given, it’s earned. Sully had it throughout the state. No less important, he had a profound respect for what we do that was the core of who he was.
In the 32 years we worked together, I can’t remember him ever saying no.
Sully, what do you think about writing a weekly column? Sure, I’ll give it a shot.
Sully, think we could pull off a weekly sports podcast? Sure, let’s try it.
Sully, how do you feel about tweeting from games? Sure, I’m game.
Sully, would you be willing to take on the UNI basketball beat? Whatever you need.
Over the past two days, hundreds of people have expressed their condolences. The outpouring of support and love for Sully has been heartwarming and overwhelming. It has also reminded me how blessed I’ve been to work alongside him the past 32 years. I know everyone else who has been part of our sports team during that time feels the same way.
Yes, the games will go on. That sounds like something Sully would say, although probably in a more clever or sarcastic way.
Someday, the mighty Minnesota Gophers will play in the Rose Bowl and the Vikings will get back to the Super Bowl and maybe, just maybe, the Twins will silence Hawk Harrelson and win their way into the postseason.
I know Sully will have the best seat in the house.