I can assure you I'll never forget my father. I've written about him in these pages before, and talk to him frequently. He's with me every day of my life, even though he's been gone now eight years. He was outspoken when he thought it was the right thing to do; he had an unerring sense of right and wrong; and, he had a great sense of humor including the ability to laugh at himself.
He would probably tell me to just ignore the retailers trumpeting Dad Dad Dad from the rooftops in order to make an extra sale or two, but I'm wondering, on this Wednesday, what he'd think if I were to answer all of those 50-odd emails, telling whoever read them exactly how unforgettable he is, and asking them to tell me about their unforgettable dad? What kind of stories would I get in return?
Maybe I'd hear from someone who 'lost' their dad in a transgender transition, someone like the Jenner kids who had Bruce and now have Caitlyn. I can't imaging living through that privately, much less publicly, but I suppose to a family that lives their lives for the cameras, a family that continuously, unabashedly self-promotes to extremes never before seen, maybe it doesn't matter that everyone is staring in their windows at this difficult time.
Or maybe, I'd hear about someone with a dad like Bob Costas, a man with an opinion lots of things, including the 'promotion' of Ms. Jenner.
Seems that ESPN has decided to bestow this year's Arthur Ashe Award on Jenner. Ashe, you may remember, was a tennis star back in the 60's and 70's, winning both the US Open and Wimbledon, and was at one point ranked number one in the world, all 'firsts' for a black man. Ashe had health problems, including two heart surgeries, brain surgery, and, ultimately, a diagnosis of AIDS stemming from tainted blood he received during one of the surgeries. He was an activist and a role model, and the Award named for him is all about courage, according to ESPN:
The Ashe Award is one of the most prestigious in sports. Recipients reflect the spirit of Arthur Ashe, possessing strength in the face of adversity, courage in the face of peril and the willingness to stand up for their beliefs no matter what the cost...Among the previous winners are Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali, Billie Jean King, the four guys from Flight 93, Tommie Smith and John Carlos (the fists-raised-on-the-medal-stand folks from the '68 Olympics), friendly fire victim Pat Tillman (who has an award named after him), Jim Valvano,and Pat Summit.
Costas, a sportscaster for NBC, is not impressed with ESPN's decision to honor Jenner.
It strikes me that awarding the Arthur Ashe award to Caitlyn Jenner is just a crass exploitation play. It's a tabloid play. In the broad world of sports, I'm pretty sure they could have found - and this is not anything against Caitlyn Jenner - I'm pretty sure they could have found someone who was much closer to actively involved in sports, who would have been deserving of that what award represents. That's not to say that it doesn't take some measure of personal courage to do what Caitlyn Jenner has done, but I think that every year we look across the landscape of sports, and we find prominent people and kids in high school and amateur athletes who I think more closely fit the description of what they're looking for there.Honestly, what do you think of Costas's comments? Did ESPN punch their ticket on the Kardashian/Jenner gravy train by selecting Caitlyn as this year's winner? Is she even still thought of as a 'sports' figure, or simply a Hollywood creation? Do people even eat Wheaties anymore? And, I'm wondering how long it'll take before NBC chastises Costas?
One thing I don't have to wonder about, though - I know my Dad would agree with Costas on this one. And so do I.