When I was a young teen, Pete Axthelm wrote a sports commentary piece in “Newsweek” that really ticked me off. The details may be a little hazy after three decades. But if memory serves, he was lamenting the fact that the Washington Redskins had been squeezed out of an NFL playoff spot because my team, the St. Louis Cardinals, had lost listlessly to another team.
And I thought, “Tough luck! Why didn’t your dumb Redskins just win more games?” The Cardinals had enough to be worried about doing damage to their own selves year after year, let alone getting blamed for hated Washington’s disappointment.
I wanted to give this guy grief for what I thought was his awful, illogical column … and I got out my yellow legal pad (this was before e-mail, of course) to compose a letter. It was quite sarcastic and angry, and so I revised it – a little _ and then decided my handwriting was messy enough that I probably needed to type it.
So … well, you can guess that maybe by the time I got around to trying to type it and finding the right address to mail it, and getting an envelope and stamp … I lost some of my steam. I never sent Mr. Axthelm, who passed away in 1991, my criticism.
Only one other time was I so worked up that I was sure I was going to send a written missile to a columnist, and that was in the early 1990s. A writer in the southeastern part of the country, who shall go unnamed because one of my close friends swears he’s really a good guy, wrote one of the most stupidly sexist pieces of drivel I’ve ever read attacking women’s basketball.
This clown – oh, right, he’s a good guy – went to a very low-level Division I women’s game in his town between two crappy teams and saw … not such a great game. Surprise!
But from this, he deduced that basketball just wasn’t a very good sport for women to play, and he didn’t know why they even tried. He suggested women’s basketball _ in total, based on one game between bad teams – was more akin to mud wrestling than real basketball, except less entertaining.
This was actually still before e-mail – or before I had it – and again I composed my letter on a legal pad, then typed it into my computer, then printed it out on an old-style printer … but somehow I still never sent it. Something stopped me.
All of which now makes me laugh because I am wary of – but resigned to _ sometimes getting criticism of my work via e-mail. But it is part of the job, and I totally understand and accept it. If you have a forum, you better be willing to take heat for what you say/write on it.
However, most of the feedback I get is quite constructive and civil. And just for the record, that’s been the case with the recent piece I did on the UConn-Tennessee feud on ESPN.com … although I haven’t read the reader comments on it. I usually avoid those.
Still … it’s nice to be focusing on something else today … something nobody will feel anything but positive thoughts toward: The “Hoops for Hope” benefit basketball game out here in western Kansas, which raises money to help women receive cancer screening and treatment in this rural area.
WNBA legend Sheryl Swoopes, the Atlanta Dream’s Shalee Lehning, the New York Liberty’s Sidney Spencer, the San Antonio Silver Stars’ Helen Darling, and former WNBA player Edna Campbell, a cancer survivor, are among those participating.
Tonight’s game is from 7-9 Central time and is scheduled to be broadcast live on Fox Sports Midwest. It will be replayed on other Fox Sports networks, so please check your listings. Brenda VanLengen and I will be there, as will former Missouri coach Cindy Stein. Brenda and Cindy will do the television broadcast.
And today on “She’s Got Game,” the twice-weekly radio show that Brenda and I have in KC, we’ll be broadcasting from the Ashland, Kan., high school gym – provided everything goes right technically – and share some thoughts on the proceedings, news in the WNBA, and maybe nab a special guest or two.