Story by: Michelle Moreno
Kirk Bohls is the definition of an award-winning sports writer. If you want to quantify it, look at his national accolades, his 2019 selection as Texas Sports Writer of the Year for the fourth time, his ten appearances on the Austin Chronicle’s “Best Of Austin” list and the nearly five decades of experience writing for the Austin American-Statesman.
When he walks into a room, like he did one recent spring day while visiting Larry Carlson’s Sports as News class on Texas State’s campus, his polished and confident demeanor is overwhelming. He looks every bit as successful in person as he is described on paper. Yet, when he speaks to you, you would never guess the accolades on his shelf. He is just as down-to-earth as the next guy and makes one feel like they’re chatting with an old friend.
When asked about building a reputation as formidable as his, Bohls says it’s a daily task.
“Your credibility is on the line every day,” said Bohls. “And it’s how you act, how you behave, how you interview people, how you carry yourself, have respect for yourself, how you dress, how you talk. I’m writing for the guy at the bar having a beer, and I’m writing for the university president. And I want both of them to respect me.”
As journalists, we know we cannot please everyone. But the power of the pen is something some writers are more conscious of than others. This is a lesson Bohls has learned first hand after voting for Reggie Bush for the Heisman Trophy in 2005 over Texas’s own Vince Young, a decision even fans today won’t let him live down.
Bohls said, “If I write something strong, somebody on Twitter will say, ‘This guy didn’t even vote for Vince!’”
Though he shared other stories about angry fans, Bohls insists he doesn’t let the criticism keep him down when it comes to writing what he believes in.
“If you’re in the media, you have to have as thick of skin as the athletes and coaches,” said Bohls. “Words can be used to inspire and used to deflate. I want to inform you, educate you, enlighten you; I’m gonna provoke you.”
Like many other writers working today, Bohls believes access is one of the hardest parts of a journalist’s job as more programs limit the ease at which reporters, coaches and athletes can interact. Bohls thinks it could have something to do with programs fearing negative press.
“The media gets slammed, ‘Oh you’re so negative, you love it when (the Longhorns) lose!’ No!,” said Bohls. “We love it when they win. It’s such a myth.”
Though it is a career long and decorated already, you can tell when you sit next to him and watch his eyes light up with each new topic, Kirk Bohls’s career is long from over. When asked about his favorite accolade so far, his response says it all.
“Longevity is my favorite award. The respect of the people I cover and my peers, that’s my favorite award.”
For readers in the Austin area Kirk Bohls is a name synonymous with fair. His opinions are always backed up with facts and stats. His writing is never too outlandish but always offers you something to ponder while you wait for the next list of 9 crazy things. It’s clear he knows what he is talking about without coming across as arrogant like the Stephen A. Smiths of the world. When asked what he hoped would be the takeaway people would have after reading his columns, Bohls lived up to his reputation.
“I’m never gonna let anybody outwork me,” said Bohls. “If they say I suck, that’s okay, just as long as they don’t say, ‘He’s lazy!’”