Why the Jaycee Dugard column was inappropriate

It seems that Orange County has been the focus of the sports world lately. I wish it were because of the Angels or a recent Mater Dei grad who got the starting QB job at USC. No, it’s because Mark Whicker of the Orange County Register wrote a stupid and thoughtless column about all the sporting milestones Jaycee Dugard missed while she was kidnapped. Although plenty of people have pointed out that the column was stupid and thoughtless, no one has talked about why.

Picture this: You had just spent two weeks in another part of the country to be with a dear relative who was dying. You were there for her final moments, and you were by her side in her hospital room when she drew her last breath. You helped make the funeral arrangements, comforted your cousins who were in deep grief, and stood at the gravesite where you gave your final goodbye. You go back to work still emotionally drained. As you approach your cubicle, Good Ol’ Smiling Mark pats you on the shoulder. The first thing he says to you is, “Hey, buddy. Did you see Sunday’s Chargers game? Wasn’t LT awesome?”

As sad as this scenario is, what Jaycee Duggan went through was infinitely worse. This poor girl was sexually, physically, and emotionally tortured for 18 years. She bore the children of the man who raped her. She lived in constant fear for her life. She spent nearly two-thirds of her life in total isolation. As for her family, they went through unbearable torment, not knowing whether their daughter was dead or alive. Her stepfather was considered a prime suspect. Jaycee and her family went through an unimaginable hell. It will take them years to recover from it, and they will never fully be healed.

At this point, do you really think they give a flying whatever about sports?

The only condition in which sports would have any bearing is if Jaycee was a fan before she was kidnapped. Then, following her favorite sports teams again might help her regain a sense of normalcy. But would Jaycee really want to be reminded about the sporting events she missed in the last 18 years? What about all the other things she never experienced: school, childhood friends, going to her high school’s football games, her first true kiss, the prom, college. These are parts of her life that were stolen from her, and she’ll never get them back.

Sports are not that important. Sports are certainly nothing compared to the well-being of a young woman whose life was taken away from her.

When I think about Jaycee, I think about a former high school classmate, Mary Ann Henderson. Mary Ann wasn’t as lucky as Jaycee, if you could call her lucky in any sense. Mary Ann was 15 when she was raped at murdered at my high school after a football game in 1976. Mary Ann would have been 48 tomorrow. She could have had high school-age children of her own right now. When I think of all the things Mary Ann missed in her life, sporting milestones are certainly not among them.