Q&A with William Littlefield

BY ANDREW BLOM // MARCH 23, 2012 //

Curry Professor Bill Littlefield

William Littlefield is a media heavyweight and a national authority on sports. A published novelist, Littlefield is the long-time host of NPR’s “Only a Game,” an hour-long exploration of sports that goes well beyond box scores. The Yale and Harvard graduate teaches one writing course each semester at Curry.

CT: How long have you been teaching at Curry?

WL: I began teaching at Curry in 1976. I taught two sections of a writing course and when I started I met my classes at the nursing school, connected with Children’s Hospital. After a semester or two, I started teaching courses on campus. I became a full-time faculty member shortly thereafter. About 18 years ago, the radio work I was doing became full time, and I reduced my course load at Curry.

CT: What makes you come back to teach year after year?

WL: I enjoy most of the students and I enjoy the work. I’m particularly impressed by the students who carry various responsibilities beyond their course work.

CT: What role does sports play in your life?

WL: I made the JV tennis team in my senior year in high school, which is pretty funny since the only way I could have made the varsity the following year would have been to flunk everything.

I wrote my first [sports] commentaries for WBUR (the local NPR affiliate) and NPR in 1984, and I’ve been at it ever since. Beyond that, my involvement in sports has been limited to playing on a fast-pitch softball team in Cambridge for about 25 years…and going to the gym.


CT: Do you think students have a passion for writing and reading anymore?

WL: Certainly, some of the students with whom I work are serious about improving their writing skills, and a few of them might be described as “passionate” about their writing. But I’m not sure there have ever been that many students who were passionate about that. It feels to me as if students today don’t read nearly as much as students read 30 or 40 years ago.

CT: Should colleges place so much emphasis on technology in education?

WL: I don’t really have a sense of how much emphasis Curry places on technology. As for the culture at large, I’m many years behind it. I have a dumb phone rather than a smart one, and I still buy CD’s. Still, the only time the “emphasis on technology” really bothers me is when somebody staring into an iPhone walks across the street against the light in front of my car.

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