64. Dear Nick, May, 2002

Forgive me; today’s column has evoked another personal epistle.

There was a time, in spite of little league baseball (first base), fiercely fought full court basketball in the haymow of our Ohio barn and club soccer in college (inside right wing), when I did not read the sports page. Life was simple then; I was happy. Now I am forever hooked.

When we came to San Diego there was more reason to read the sports pages. People actually cared. SDSU had a big investment in athletics. We knew and admired some of the coaches and players. Occasionally we won. Perhaps the NCAA was investigating us. If nothing else, Canepa’s column would be well-written.

I deeply believe there is something noble in sport, something that reflects the struggles of our human ascent; an honest striving that brings good people together to test their skill, endurance and intellect against one another. At the same time, much of it is pure (or not-so-pure) piffle. But there are moments when the “piffle” is separated from the genuine in a way that is clear for all to see. For me, your column today was such a moment.

The history of the human drama has been an endless struggle to broaden our circle of inclusion; to include the “barbarian”, the infidel, those without property, women, persons of color. In our own time, the fight of inclusion has been fought to include homosexuals — and the resistance has been fierce, especially on college campuses and in the testosterone-juiced world of athletics. You put it well:

“There are athletes out there abusing their spouses, abandoning their children, driving drunk, killing people and peddling dope. And they are still playing because of who they are. Real ‘men.’ ”

Your choice to raise the issue of homophobia on the sports page brought the nobility of sport (and the frailty of “sportsmen”) together with the reality of the ongoing human struggle in a most wonderful way. There are many moments when sports men and women, (like artists, scholars and public servants), make me proud of our common human adventure.

And sometimes sports writers write about “the big game” with compelling honesty and clarity.

Thank you.


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