To say that Kenny Mayne has worn many hats over the years would be an amazing understatement. After his childhood outside of Seattle, he was a division one quarterback at UNLV, worked as a stringer for ESPN and eventually became an anchor on SportsCenter, performed on Dancing With The Stars, wrote a book, and played a fictionalized version of himself on an online TV show. His most important endeavor, however, has been that of a father with two young daughters.
I recently chatted with Mayne about juggling family and work, the loss of his hometown team, and his love of wiffle ball.
TFL: What changed for you when you became a dad, life-wise and career-wise?
KM: Being around home became my favorite all time thing. The best moment of any day remains when I’m up reading or writing and the girls are around me in the living room, asleep and safe. As for work, it mattered more and less all at once. More in that I want to perform well and earn to give the girls security. Less in that I’d much rather be with my wife and kids than at work.
TFL: How do you tackle the challenge of balancing work and family time?
KM: They all know I have a job and there’ll be times when I just have to be away. But I’ve gotten smarter about economizing my time away while still getting my work done. I’ve done a lot of trips to Chicago and back (and even Dallas) in one day so as to have another night at home.
TFL: You were on Dancing With The Stars in 2006. Tell me a little bit about that experience. Would you do something like that again?
KM: They’d have to pay more if they want me to dance again. Plus I’m having ankle surgery soon so it might be problematic. I have no regrets for doing the show. In fact, I’m still attached to DWTS, doing the short comedy bits with Jerry Rice and Len Goodman, the judge.
TFL: I’m a big Curb Your Enthusiasm fan so I was really excited to see Mayne Street on ESPN.com. The web-series ended in early January; are there any new episodes in the works? Is there any chance of the show becoming a half hour series on ESPN?
KM: People with far bigger offices will decide if it’s ever going to be a television show. For now, I’m happy on the web, and we just shot the second flight of shows. They start airing in May. It’s by far my favorite thing I’ve ever done for ESPN. I was surrounded by some very talented people. It’s fairly amazing to me that somehow this is what I now do for work.
TFL: When it comes to family, what are your favorite things, the challenging things? Do you have any words of advice?
KM: I don’t always follow this, but I do try to always govern with love. Even when they’ve done something wrong, we always say that at about nine p.m., when they are in deep sleep, all sins are forgiven. Mostly I try to not let little things bother me. That’s both in parenting and in life. Unfortunately, human nature takes over from time to time and my perspective is lost temporarily. The great moments with the kids are incomparable. Some of the rest of parenting can be hard. There’s no training and we often second-guess ourselves.
TFL: You recently wrote a book, An Incomplete and Inaccurate History of Sport. How long did it take to write and are you working on any new literary projects?
KM: It took about four months and then some re-writes. I intend to do another book, but I haven’t gotten very far. I started the first book back when I wasn’t sure I was staying at ESPN, so I might have been a little more motivated to get it done.
TFL: You grew up in Washington State and you were a big Sonics fan. How are you dealing with the loss of your home team? Do you care about the Oklahoma City Thunder at all?
KM: I stopped caring about the franchise once it was taken from Seattle. It was very odd all season to look at the standings and not see a team from Seattle. I wish the league had stood up for the city a little more. Then again, I’ll admit I don’t get too choked up when I see other cities lose their teams. But for my city, I’m still upset about how it all panned out.
TFL: You manage and play in the Legends and Celebrity Softball game every year during MLB all-star weekend. Do you play any sports in your free time to stay active?
KM: I used to play some flag football, but it’s been quite a while. I lift and bike and swim, but not nearly enough. An old ankle injury from football has slowed me down a great deal. I’m having surgery (my 8th) to remove some bone spurs. Hopefully, I’ll have more motion and less pain soon.
TFL: In your book you said, “Wiffle Ball is the second-greatest game in the world next to tackle football and everyone knows it.” Do you ever pick up a wiffle ball bat anymore? I’m all for playing games as adults that we played as kids.
KM: I play wiffle ball with my girls (Riley and Annie) now and then but mostly Wiffle is reserved for those times I get together with old friends. I did play it in Seattle last fall with a friend from a radio station out there. We played indoors at the Total Music Experience Project, a great museum and wiffle ball venue. I had him two outs in the bottom of our last inning then he crushed my usually unhittable spit ball for a three run home run.
For more information about Kenny’s book visit: www.kennymaynehaswrittenabook.com
To watch past episodes of Mayne Street visit: http://espn.go.com/video/ and click on the “Mayne Street” link at the top of the page.
30 year old freelance writer and The Father Life‘s resident beer columnist and sports editor. He also writes about fine beverages for drinkingmadeeasy.com and Chilled Magazine. On top of that, he writes about college and professional lacrosse for insidelacrosse.com. He’s also written for Genesee Valley Parenting Magazine, the Democrat and Chronicle Newspaper and ESPN.com. “Osburn on Tap” appears monthly in THE FATHER LIFE. For questions, comments, or if you have a story idea for Chris, throw him an email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on twitter http://www.twitter.com/chrisosburn