Sports author, stats maven discusses unique career

Elliott Kalb visits with students at Shalom Torah Academy


CHRIS KELLY staff Author and sports researcher Elliott Kalb discusses his career with students at Shalom Torah Academy, Marlboro. The students are producing their own newspaper. CHRIS KELLY staff Author and sports researcher Elliott Kalb discusses his career with students at Shalom Torah Academy, Marlboro. The students are producing their own newspaper. MARLBORO – Sports was the topic of the day when pupils at Shalom Torah Academy of Western Monmouth County, Amboy Road, recently met with and interviewed author and sports researcher Elliott Kalb.

The two fifth-grade classes at Shalom Torah are creating their own school newspaper. Part of the task required students to conduct interviews. Kalb was invited to speak to the students about being a writer.

Kalb, 46, of South Brunswick, is known in the television sports world as “Mr. Stats,” a nickname bestowed upon him by sportscaster Marv Albert. His latest book is “The 25 Greatest Sports Conspiracy Theories of All-Time: Ranking Sports’ Most Notorious Fixes, Cover- Ups and Scandals.”

He currently works as a writer and researcher for HBO’s “Inside the NFL” and he is the editorial consultant for NBC-TV’s “Football Night in America.” Kalb writes a weekly column during the football season on

Estee Hebel, general studies principal at the school, asked the assembled students why someone would want to write something for other people to read. As the answers were shouted out, Kalb laughed, but commented that the youngsters missed one of the most important reasons, a legacy.

“This (book) will outlast me, it’s something that will be here long after,” Kalb told the pupils.

The children then took turns playing reporter, bombarding Kalb with questions. The most popular question concerned Kalb’s feelings about his job.

“I’m very, very lucky because I work in something I love,” he told them.

The students asked Kalb how long he works during the day. He said he is always thinking of ideas from the time he wakes up until the time he goes to sleep.

He explained how, when he is dealing with a sport in which he may not have expertise, he has to do more research than he would have to do when working on a sport with which he is more familiar.

When asked how he can remember all of the statistics he works with, Kalb said, “I read for a living. I have an archives library at home and I’m lucky to have the ability to remember exactly where I’ve read something so I can go back and retrieve it.”

Fifth-graders at the school are currently reading “The Landry News” by Andrew Clements.

According to a plot synopsis, the story is about a new fifth grade student, Cara Landry, who publishes her own paper and writes an editorial criticizing her teacher, forcing him to take his duties seriously.

Fifth grade teacher Allison Wiesel said the newspaper project was started last year and two issues were produced. The idea was enjoyed so much it was decided to try it again this school year.

Wiesel said the students are enjoying the process. The teacher explained that the children are being taught what goes into creating a newspaper, from editorial content right down to advertising sales. Students have been taught how to go about gathering information, along with sorting through what information is relevant.

Parents of the fifth-graders were asked to help with the newspaper by providing interviews. So far one parent has come in to speak to the students, Wiesel said.

As the question and answer session came to an end, Hebel said she had never seen the students so excited and engaged with a guest speaker.

The students continued to ask Kalb about the sports figures he has met during his career, but then the time came for them to return to their classes.

The students are hoping to produce the first issue of their newspaper this month.