We used to hang around together on the road – Stanley Cups in Montreal and the Garden, that Italian restaurant in Nagano, the shot-put in Ancient Olympia, and insane nights at Fenway and Yankee Stadium and the Kingdome.
I could be deep in thought in the press box, composing my early-edition column, when a voice would screech right behind my head: “Pop!!!” Everybody in the press box would stop what they were doing.
If we were in Boston, she would deposit a roll of Necco Wafers on my desk. She always had a stash.
My daughter Laura Vecsey was a sports columnist in Albany and Seattle and Baltimore for more than a decade. I marvelled at her big-sister insight into Junior and Alex and Pedro. One day Jim Palmer, on the air, praised her throwing arm.
Life on the road was never the same on the road after she became a political columnist in Harrisburg, Pa., keeping an eye on chicanery and obtuseness in the real world.
After she got out of the newspaper business, I realized what a good job she had been doing when I met former Gov. Ed Rendell on a live television show. His first words were, “I miss your daughter.” I bet he does.
Last month the editors at the Harrisburg Patriot-News asked her to write a personal tribute to Title IX, to go along with their impressive package on the 1972 legislation.
Laura wrote a lovely memory about being a 10-year-old who wanted to play ball, but the only way was with the local Police Athletic League boys’ hardball team.
Her entire essay can be accessed via this link:
Laura then told how competition for women got better mostly because of Title IX. My big thrill was when my daughter made the basketball varsity as a sophomore. I was playing on Monday nights in adult recreation up at the high school, and the scoreboard contained the roster of the girls’ varsity. How cool was that, to see the family name up there.
In her essay, Laura recalls her responsibility, as the point guard, to set up the star of the team, Debbie Beckford. And if the team got off message, Mr. Beckford, in his lilting Caribbean accent, would shout: “Get the ball to Debbie!” Quite right, too. Debbie became as a Big East star for St. John’s and is now a success in business.
The lives and working careers of women have been enriched by varsity sports in the age of Title IX – including my colleague who supplied me with Necco Wafers and screeched “Pop!!!”
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.