Just the other day, we were driving on one of those old roads in Queens when I spotted Kissena Park.
“My father used to take me rowing there,” I said.
My father could not swim but once in a great while he would take his oldest child to the modest lake in the park.
Also, just the other day, one of our children was clicking in a Stanley Cup game, but scrolled past “The Third Man” – the zither music, Orson Welles smirking in the shadows.
“My father and mother took me when I was 10," I said.
It is one of my great memories of childhood, being judged mature enough to handle the villainy and mystery and politics of that epic movie.
The hockey could wait; we pretty much stayed with "The Third Man" right through the final scene in the cemetery.
My parents taught me to spot the creep factor in Nixon and McCarthy. They taught me the calling of journalism.
My father went off to work six or seven days a week to feed our family. I also knew that he liked working.
As busy as he was, sometimes he found time to park near the railroad main line to watch trains racing toward the city, installing in me the chill of the outward bound.
Sometimes on a Saturday we parked by LaGuardia Airport and watched the airplanes and listened to Army or Notre Dame football games on the car radio.
He also took me to Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, and made sure I rooted for a team with Dixie Walker and the next year with Jackie Robinson. He taught me to root for the good guys.
He drove me out to inspect the college I would attend. He had never gone, but made sure I did.
I know this: I never thanked him enough.
Welcome to World Cup 2022, the most absurd thing that the routinely absurd world of sports has ever produced.
Those extreme descriptions were what virtually the entire world, save for those who had walked off with bags of cash from Qatar, called the awarding of soccer’s greatest event to the incredibly tiny, incredibly wealthy country back in 2010.
Twelve years ago, many were convinced this event couldn’t possibly happen: staging the world’s biggest sporting event in a country the size of Connecticut, one with zero soccer culture and even less soccer infrastructure? The tournament couldn’t possibly take place in 120-degree heat, and FIFA, the governing body of soccer, most certainly wouldn’t upend football leagues around the world to change the traditional summer schedule, could it?
And, for God’s sake, what about the beer?
Those were just the logistical concerns. The moral concerns are far more distressing. FIFA, so busy paying lip service to equality, couldn’t possibly expect the world to embrace a country where you could go to prison for being gay, where women’s rights are severely curtailed and female victims of sexual assault could go to prison, charged with engaging in extramarital sex. And all those questions came before the global realization that the World Cup was being built on the backs of migrant labor: modern-day slaves held in Qatar with virtually no rights, low wages and no ability to leave. Migrants make up 90% of Qatar’s stated population of 3 million. The country’s native-born equal about 300,000, or roughly the size of Anaheim.
---Ann Killion, columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle.