Maybe the worst sports column ever

You’re a newspaper columnist. You’re on a deadline. You have to find something worthy of 800 words and you’re stumped. What do you do? Why, you use a horriffic 18 year-long child abduction, rape and imprisonment as a hook for a rehashed “aren’t those athletes just nutty” piece!

It doesn’t sound as if Jaycee Dugard got to see a sports page. Box scores were not available to her from June 10, 1991 until Aug. 31 of this year. She never saw a highlight. Never got to the ballpark for Beach Towel Night. Probably hasn’t high-fived in a while. She was not allowed to spike a volleyball. Or pitch a softball. Or smack a forehand down the line. Or run in a 5-footer for double bogey.

Now, that’s deprivation

Can you imagine? Dugard was 11 when she was kidnapped and stashed in Phillip Garrido’s backyard. She was 29 when she escaped. Penitentiary inmates at least get an hour of TV a day. Dugard was cut off from everything but the elements. How long before she fully digests the world she re-enters? How difficult to adjust to such cataclysmic change? More than that, who’s going to explain the fact that there’s a President Obama?

Dugard’s stepfather says she’s going to need a lot of therapy — you think? — so perhaps she should take a respite before confronting the new realities. So, Jaycee, whenever you’re ready, here’s what you’ve missed:

The writer, Mark Whicker of the OC Register, then proceeds to bullet point a couple dozen “oh, how times change” sports zingers. He ends the piece with what I guess is a pun of some kind: “Congratulations, Jaycee. You left the yard.”

Classy, Whicker. Now please go die in a fire someplace so I can use it as a hook for a “who’s hot, who’s not” bit.


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Daniel
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Daniel

As an on-again off-again reader of the OC Register, Whicker has never been great.  He’ll have an occasional solid column, but usually they’re full of dumb puns.

This, however, is ridiculous.  The Register’s struggling pretty badly already and I can’t imagine this tripe is helping.

If I can make an appropriate tragedy-related analogy: It’s like if someone started taking dumps all over the deck of the Titanic as it sank.

luke
Guest
luke

i can’t believe it wasn’t plaschke!

Dan
Guest
Dan

This pantload is even worse when you consider that she was apparently an active part of her kidnapper’s print company and computer literacy was a part of that.  So none of the stuff he talks about is news to her.

MooseinOhio
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MooseinOhio

I’d rather have wanna be writers (e.g. the aforementioned Whickers) plagiarize stories written by well established writers (e.g. Posnanski, McCoy) than be left to their own ideas on interesting stories/angles for stories. 

Stolen quality copy is always greater than original crappy copy.

Jason @ IIATMS
Guest
Jason @ IIATMS

So Mr. Author, it’s OK to trivialize an 18 year abduction by showing her all the groovy changes in sport? yeah, that makes some sense.

I hear it’s nice and cool in Hell these days.

J. McCann
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J. McCann

As soon as I saw that headline, I thought for sure it was something by Rick Reilly.

But OK, I guess this is worse.  At least the OCR will be toast soon, and this guy will be unemployed.

Greg Simons
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Greg Simons

Hey, September 11th is only two days away.  I wonder what clever tie-in Mark Whicker will come up with then.

Travis M. Nelson
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Travis M. Nelson

The biggest irony is that among the requirements for people to comment on his column, there’s this:

3. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked.

Does this mean that they’ll block Mark Whicker from writing any more of this irrelevant, disrespectful dreck?

Jeff Polman
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Jeff Polman

Dear Mark Whicker:

Thanks for those wise words today.  Guess I’m off the hook.

Yours,
C. Manson

Greg Simons
Guest
Greg Simons
I sent this e-mail to Mark Whicker: Mark, Wow.  Just…wow! “Now, that’s deprivation.” and “Congratulations, Jaycee. You left the yard.” That’s possibly the most revolting article hook I’ve ever read.  September 11 is only a couple days away.  Are you going to do a tie-in with that, too? —- He replied thusly: The revolting thing is that you would equate a column that celebrates the release of Jaycee Dugard, and tries to put the length of her 18-year kidnapping in a context that everyone can understand, with a terrorist attack that killed 3,000 people. And then you draw a value… Read more »
lisa
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lisa
my letter to the editor: Dear Mr. Brusic,     Have you read Mark Whicker’s column which uses Jaycee Dugard’s 18 years of rape, torture and abuse to chronicle athletic events? If you have not, might I suggest that you do so immediately. Mr. Whicker’s bizarre ramblings are without question the most vile and offensive that I have had the misfortune to read in any mainstream publication. Why you have seen fit to employ a despicable person like Mr. Whicker completely escapes me. There are many, many unemployed sports writers who are excellent writers and journalists, who would never stoop… Read more »
Wooden U. Lykteneau
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Wooden U. Lykteneau
Keep us posted, Greg. His tone reminds me of Gordon Edes when I took him to task for screwing up the name of the team that Ken Ray returned to the majors from the Can-Am League: But I have a question for you;[sic] Why point out that it could have been verified by a visit to the website, which implies the mistake was one of laziness or inattention to the job? Sometimes it’s just a matter of making a mistake, pure and simple. The club sent me an e-mail last Friday, heralding Mr[sic] Ray’s debut against Bonds and the Giants.… Read more »
Beanster
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Beanster

Craig, my only issue with your take is including the word “Maybe” in the title.  This was truly revolting, and I appreciate your bringing it to our collective attention so that some good may actually come of it.  Wow

Jorge Says No!
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Jorge Says No!

That’s just brutal to read.

Not good, at all.

Greg Simons
Guest
Greg Simons
Here’s what happened next.  From MW: Trivializing? Most people can’t comprehend how long 18 years of imprisonment is. I was illustrating it through sports, by showing how much things had changed. If you just say “18 years,” that’s abstract. If you say that it happened before Michael Jordan won his first NBA championship, then it’s relevant. I agree this kidnapping was a tragedy. I treated it as such. I also recognize that it’s something the girl can possibly recover from. I don’t think any of the World Trade Center victims have that opportunity. Talk about trivializing something. MW—- Me: Your… Read more »
Bill @ the daily something
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Bill @ the daily something

Wrote to Whicker. CC’ed Brsic. Asked him to save the energy that he’s been putting into those pompous and self-defensive responses and turn it toward getting started on his apology.

That’s just sick.

urnak
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urnak

Greg – I completely agree with you. Whicker’s reaction to what you said just shows how completely wrong he is. He both refuses to acknowledge the way he completely inappropriately trivialized a tragedy, and then accuses you of doing the same thing when you in no way did so. So, he recognized it in others when it’s not there, and can’t see it himself. Wow indeed. -Alex

TC
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TC

This, to me, is deserving of some kind of suspension w/o pay.  I don’t know the guy’s writing at all, so I don’t know if this kind of stupidity is his schtick, but even if it’s a one-time lapse, the editors at the newspaper should respond.

Brian
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Brian

I couldn’t find the comments for this column.  My guess is that they’ve been removed because they were so appropriately voicing their displeasure for this horrid column.

Char
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Char

TC, Whicker’s editors are to blame as well. I’m a newspaper editor, and if this had crossed my computer screen, I would have hit DELETE immediately, called the columnist, and asked him what the bloody hell he was playing at.

Aarcraft
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Aarcraft

Brian, the comments are still there. The sad thing is, the comments over there are probably nicer than the stuff Craig gets over at NBC for daring to say something negative about Pete Rose or the Boston Red Sox/NY Yankees.

Jason
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Jason
Will
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Will
I can’t believe that that got published, and I really can’t believe his responses to Greg Simons’ emails. I can, if I try really hard, see that he might have meant the article in the way he claims: attempting to explain the length of her captivity in terms of how the world has changed. But to steadfastly refuse to see that everybody else in the world is interpreting it as trivializing the brutal treatment Ms. Dugard suffered is beyond all understanding. What an abominable man. If the OC Register has any sense, they’ll suspend, or better yet sack, him and… Read more »
Chris H.
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Chris H.

That was very difficult to read.

Very, very difficult.

Krista
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Krista
Copy of the email I sent: Dear Mr. Whicker, Wow.  I must tell you that the article you wrote trivializing the kidnapping and repeated rape of an 11 year old girl was revolting.  I would try to come up with a stronger word to describe how utterly offensive your article and subsequent “apology” were, but frankly, I’m not sure if the English language has such a word.  Certainly my thesaurus isn’t helping. I have also seen as least one incident of correspondence—written by you, Mr. Whicker—that questions the sanity of someone who was offended at the disgusting article you wrote. … Read more »
SoSH U
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SoSH U

This is pretty funny:

http://stupidsportsblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/jaycee-dugard-reacts-to-mark-whickers.html

I don’t see how that is that any better than Whicker’s garbage?

sansho1
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sansho1

SoSH U—you’re right, it isn’t.

Grant
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Grant

Craig! You got mentioned on the AVClub! My sports blog reading and my non-sports blog reading got combined! Whatta day!

Craig Calcaterra
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Craig Calcaterra

Sweet!  My only regret was that it wasn’t in Dan Savage’s column.

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