I don't exactly remember the year, but I'm estimating it was early 1990s. A battle raged on the back page of Sports Illustrated.
Now, this was a coveted room in what, at the time, was the finest real estate in sports journalism. SI was it for me. I read it religiously, pored over the work of writers like Gary Smith, Leigh Montville, Sally Jenkins, Rick Telander and Rick Reilly.
I remember Telander, then Jenkins word jousting with each other over the issue of female sports writers in men's locker rooms... in order to conduct interviews or, you know, do their jobs.
My junior-sports writer heart had been stolen. Jenkins, with her wit, flair and accuracy, ran away with it.
In Summer 1995, I interned with the U.S. Tennis Association and found myself at the U.S. Open. Since we didn't have that new fandangled World Wide Web thing really cooking yet, part of my job was getting on a radio, calling around to other courts at the U.S. Tennis Center and updating scores on a giant whiteboard at the end of the press box.
Given its proximity to one of the two entrances to the press box, this post also afforded me the opportunity to check media credentials. And, when Jenkins walked in one day, rather than check the credential hanging at the end of a lanyard, I totally fangirled. I mean, I damn near accosted the poor woman, excitedly telling her about a research paper I wrote my sophomore year of college about women in locker rooms, inspired by her go-round with Telander. She giggled at me, seemed genuinely thrilled with the story and was nice as can be.
Jenkins left SI, eventually, wrote a few best sellers and is even more beautiful a thinker and writer now as a Washington Post columnist.
Earlier this month, Jenkins' father died.
Now, to most in this business, Sally is Dan Jenkins' daughter. You see, her father was one of -- if not the best sports scribes of all time.
But, the best thing I've read this month is her tribute to her father.
Long reads. Song lyrics. Vignettes. Q&As.
The best thing I read varies like the weather. And, in Southern Connecticut this winter, that is saying something!
I have always loved reading. I think part of that love comes from the fact that it is never the same experience. No story, or analysis, or rendering is the same. No style is the same. No word choice, or turn of a phrase is ever the exact same.
On Wednesday evening, I read this Q&A with USC sociology and journalism professor Ben Carrington. It's the best thing I've read this week.
I saw Carrington speak in Spring 2013 at the University of Texas, which hosted the annual Sports Summit of the International Association for Communication and Sport. He blew me away. So smart and well spoken. I've since read several articles he has written, and books he has edited. He is a talented scholar.
But what struck me about this Q&A is the casual manner in which a brilliant person is discussing a complex issue. That makes it accessible -- something from which others can learn. The topic is salient and so critical. I hope you read it, enjoy it and walk away from it more informed.
Sometimes the best things we read aren't necessarily long, deep thought-provoking articles. Sometimes the best things we read are short blurbs from which we learn something, a piece that makes us laugh, a turn of phrase that is particularly memorable.
That's where I am over the last week. The best thing I read was the weekly Q&A, The Quaz, from Jeff Pearlman's blog.
Pearlman is a deft writer of all things long and short. I recently read his most recent book, "Football for a Buck," which is a fun, wild historiography of the United States Football League. He was a long-time senior writer for Sports Illustrated and penned one of the more memorable sports features of the late 90s -- the famous ride into New York City with then-Atlanta Braves closer John Rocker.
But, for the last 393 weeks -- um, seven years?! -- Pearlman has posted a weekly, short, quirky Q&A with people of every walk of life. It affirms the adage that, truly, everyone has a story to tell. (Ugh, what a cliche!)
I think my favorite Quaz interview was Pearlman's interview with sports writer Dave Kindred. The simplicity of not only what Kindred does, but of Pearlman's questions are what makes it so memorable, so readable.
He once interviewed one of my former students, Amanda Lucci for The Quaz. And, I'll admit, that was the first one I had ever read, though I had been reading Pearlman's work for years.
This week I read Nos. 392 and 393, the former of which left me so sad for a backup point guard on a shitty Division III basketball team. (I don't say "shitty" to take a shot at lower division hoop; I say it because the team has won one game this season.) But, I was only sad for a moment because... what a guy Ryan O'Neil is! A strong writer, a young man with ambition and vision who is supported and loved.
Dive in. Enjoy the feels. Think about the depth. Marvel at the simplicity.
Molly Yanity, Ph.D.