There’s a phrase in the newspaper business that goes something like this: No matter what you do today, you’ve still got to come back tomorrow and do it all over again. Day after day, every day.
But occasionally, briefly, there is time to pause and reflect for a truly significant moment. For those of us who bring you The Advocate’s Sports section every day, this is one of those times.
Thursday was the final day on the job for Advocate Executive Sports Editor Butch Muir, one week shy of 33 years in that position. Thirty-three years of unrelenting deadlines (waiting on writers like yours truly to file their stories and columns), of championships and last-place finishes, hirings and firings, the thrilling emotional moments and heartbreaking finishes.
It’s a long time. How long? Nine men (including the late Bo Rein) have occupied the LSU football coach’s office in the time one man has been The Advocate’s sports editor. Five have been athletic director. That’s a whole lot of national anthems in stadiums, arenas and ballparks.
You may not have gotten to know Butch as well as we all did, but know that for over three decades he’s had a hand — make that two busy hands — in helping shape the news of the sports world that came to you in these pages.
Butch always preferred to be behind the scenes, preferring for many of the rest of us to get the glory. But he was always there, sometimes seeming never to take a day off, coming in early, staying late, always willing to pitch in and do the kind of “grunt” work many sports editors at papers his size would not.
Thursday, before a retirement party that attracted big Baton Rouge sports names like Paul Dietzel and Skip Bertman and Roger Cador and Jerry Stovall, Butch was at his desk, one last time, punching in the Southeastern Conference baseball stats. And, probably, he was wishing someone would call in with a score they needed to get in the paper.
Butch always understood the importance of the big-ticket sports like LSU, Southern, the Saints and preps. But more than most of us, he also understood the importance of the niche sports, the ones with small followings or the ones that are more about participants than spectators, and made sure there was space for them in our ample sports pages. He understood that every sport was important to someone, and that made it important to him.
It’s a well-worn cliché in sports that records are made to be broken. And so often they are. But it’s doubtful that Butch’s record will ever be broken. It’s pretty unlikely, if not impossible, that anyone will serve 33 years in that chair.
In recent days, Butch would be heard to remark that after he was gone the sports section would go on just like always. In a practical sense, that’s true. Every day is a new day in the business, and like with a sports team, no one is irreplaceable.
But some will be missed more than others. And Butch Muir, a man who worked on this sports section as tirelessly as anyone for more than three decades, won’t soon be forgotten.
Thanks, Butch. From all of us.