My dad was just a sportswriter. No disrespect intended, he was a great one, and he is remembered in the Twin Cities of Tonawanda and North Tonawanda to this day, more than 40 years after he wrote his last "As we see it" column.

Of course, Lou Simon was also a loving father, a devoted husband and a World War II U.S. Army veteran, seeing action at Guadalcanal.

I watched the miniseries "The Pacific" on HBO, and I was shaken. It's beyond me how he could have overcome that experience. He rarely, if ever, talked about war-time. At the same age, a bad grade in college, a broken down car or a breakup with a girlfriend sent me into a funk that would take weeks to recover from.

I don't know how those men survived — I know many didn't. I could not have done it. Perhaps that's the answer: They did it so my generation would not have to.

Still, sometimes, in my mind, I rib him. "Dad," I'll think, "you never interviewed a governor (I have questioned two), covered a murder trial (done it) or shook hands with a first lady who is probably going to be the next president of the United States (at Alfred University in 2000).

I'm not saying my dad was not capable of doing all those things, obviously he was, but he made a different career choice. He covered the fun and games of life, high school football, basketball and wrestling, and he ran a sports department at a daily newspaper.

I began thinking about this recently, because the job of a sportswriter has changed to such a degree that I don't think my dad would even recognize it today. It's no longer just about the final score, or feature stories on coaches and players, or typing up the bowling results.

A competent sportswriter today sometimes has to be a crime reporter, a business analyst, and they better be familiar with the ins and outs of politics. And that's just to start.

Consider the job of a beat writer covering the Bills for the Buffalo News. Just during this current off-season, reporters assigned to the team have chronicled the death of their long-time owner and the complicated succession plan to replace him. They have had to master arcane medical issues and write with assurance and competence about Jim Kelly's battle with life-threatening cancer. Also, there is the Buffalo Bills' New Stadium Working Group, the panel appointed to settle on long-range plans for where the team will play in the next couple of decades. Realistically, the decisions that group makes will have a greater and longer impact on the franchise's viability than who the team selects in the first round of the NFL Draft later this spring.

Last off-season, football writers became crime reporters, as former New England tight end Aaron Hernandez was indicted for murder. More and more, it seems sports and the courts have melded.

Yes, sometimes these stories get handed off to the news section, but pity the sports reporter who thinks their job is only about who won and who lost the big game, and nothing else. Times have changed in this respect, and not necessarily for the better.

Sports sections from decades ago, if you can find them, seem almost quaint by comparison. You won't read much about million-dollar contracts, or franchise shifts (Yes, I know the Brooklyn Dodgers moved across the country in 1957), or prison sentences for former star athletes or paying college players. In those days, reading the sports section was a chance to take a temporary break from the "real world." Not so much anymore.

Maybe I should have given more thought to becoming a sportswriter. All the issues I love to cover are right there, and the food in the press box is better than ever, I hear.

Neal Simon is the city editor of the Evening Tribune.