Sports columnist not deserving of criticism for Dugard article

Sep 17th, 2009 | By | Category: Blogs, Opinions, Sports, Sports Commentary

by Mike Courson

Being a columnist is rarely easy. There are the writers who do puff pieces, maybe drawing a smile but never really making anyone think about anything, and there are those of us who tow the line to make our points.

Mark Whicker, a columnist of 22 years, is the latest to draw national ire for a recent column in the Orange County Register telling kidnap victim Jaycee Dugard what she missed in the sporting world during the last 18 years.

Critics say Whicker was insensitive. What was a sports writer even doing writing about Dugard, who was kidnapped at age 11 and held captive for 18 years before recently finding freedom? In that time, she was virtually cut off from the world.

It does not take but a quick reading of the column to see that Whicker was not being cruel or insensitive. He was merely putting 18 years in perspective. Sports analogies are the rage. The media and our government officials love to use sports analogies because most of us can relate to winning the big game or getting the big hit.

Part of the column is a list of some of the bigger stories in the last 18 years. Barry Bonds, Tiger Woods, Magic Johnson. I know these stories because I have had access to the world all of my life. Still, I had forgotten how big these stories were in their time. They seem like ages ago. If a simple news story seems to have happened decades ago, how long must have those 18 years in captivity felt to Dugard?

Whicker is experiencing another American pasttime. Running the mouth (or in this case fingers…probably most often with anonymous emails and comments) without really thinking about what is being said. Yes, the column at first reeks of bad taste. If you stop there, Whicker probably deserves some hate mail. But if you actually read the column, and you have the ability to think, you begin to see that Whicker’s unique column simply puts 18 years in perspective more than the faux emotional reporting from the networks could ever do.

Not bad for a sports writer.

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