Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Mom and Sports: A Lesson

You may have noticed a dearth of content around these parts lately. That can be attributed to the final decline and passing of my mother, Irene, who left us on January 23rd after a 15+ year battle with cancer in which she repeatedly gave as good as she got.

In her honor, then, here's a story about Mom, and sports, and a few other things. Mom wasn't much of a sports fan - there was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan in there somewhere, but in her later years she was mainly just irritated at how much money was getting chewed up by the sports-industrial complex.  But every so often she dipped into sports and surprised me. For example:

When I was a kid, I subscribed to Sports Illustrated. Read it religiously, too - I'm pretty sure I was the only student at Cheltenham Elementary School who had any idea who the hell Steve Cauthen was, and I lived for the weekly columns from the mysterious Dr. Z.

And when the Oakland Raiders decided (for the first time) that they were going to move, SI - in those pre-internet days, the best source for sports news and opinion (Sorry, Sporting News and Inside Sports and Sport and, well, never mind) - was all over it. They reported the moves, the countermoves, and when the Raiders' antitrust suit against the NFL started to roll forward, they covered that as well.

Which led to me tumbling downstairs one morning in 1981 or so, clutching the latest issue1 1and indignantly announcing to my mother that the jury for said antitrust trial actually contained some women. This. clearly, was preposterous. It was a football trial; why on earth would there be women on the jury?

And my mother, in the midst of my swirling pre-adolescent dudgeon, calmly asked why there shouldn't be women on the jury.

To which, I suddenly realized, I had absolutely no answer. There was no reason on God's green earth for women to not be on the jury, which led by extension to "there was no reason women couldn't or wouldn't know about football" which led to "there was no reason women couldn't or wouldn't know about sports" which led to "there was no reason women couldn't or wouldn't know about anything, so shut up before you say anything stupid and bear this in mind going forward".

Eventually, I said, "You know what? You're right." And I went back upstairs, and Mom went back to whatever she was doing, and that was that. Except, of course, it fundamentally changed the course of the way I looked at everything in my life from that point forward.

So thank you, Sports Illustrated. And thank you, Mom.

1Sports Illustrated merely reported the jury composition. The dudgeon was all 10 year old me. 

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