That's the marvelous headline that The New York Times editors did not use for my story in today's Chicago edition, about the most dominant player in women's football coming to play for Chicago's team, the Force.
“A hundred years ago, golf was free”
In The New York Times today, I explore the price of progress at the oldest public golf course in Chicago.
History buffs and golf bums will appreciate this bit, which didn't make the cut.
“For a long time South Side golf enthusiasts have been dreaming of that happy morning when they should wake to find a golf course at a distance of less than twenty to thirty miles from their homes,” began an article in the Chicago Daily Tribune, April 30, 1899.
When Jackson Park finally did open as a nine-hole golf course month later, “nearly 100 persons, many of them women, went over the course during the day, while hundreds of interested spectators were scattered along the links, watching the players struggle to get the little balls to the red flags ….”
Golf at Jackson Park was free back then—the parks didn’t begin charging greens fees until 1920—and Jackson Park was immediately crowded … On the Fourth of July in 1906, 1,400 people played the course. …
Gridiron Girls, Conclusion
The Chicago Force lost to the Dallas Diamonds in the first round of the playoffs. I went to a post-season party where owners, coaches and players made speeches about this season and next. I screwed up enough courage to tell the women why I love this football phenomenon so much.
Everywhere, I look for people unafraid of we-don't-give-a-shit-what-anybody-thinks devotion: to ideas, to causes, to other people. Though the idea of women's tackle football and the cause of the Chicago Force may not be the great struggles of our times*, I'm so starved—I think we all are—for uncut commitment to things, that this is just an inspiring thing to be around.
My friends gently suggest to me that between my gonzo quarterbacking stint last year and my Tribune series this year, I've perhaps done this story to death.
And maybe I have.
But why do I find myself idly searching for a reason to travel with the Force next year too?
* In the last installment of my Trib series, the women talk about what football means to them. The last to speak is defensive end Amanda Malsch, who tells a story from a few years ago, when her mother met an elderly woman at the local gym.
"My mom started talking about my experience with the Chicago Force women's football team—the injuries, struggles, financial obligations, the push for our league to make it as a serious sport."
The woman told Malsch's mom to tell Malsch to "stick with it," and she knew of what she spoke.
"As it turned out, her name was Ellie Dapkus and she was a member of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball Team and played for the 1943 Racine Belles. Obviously my mom was floored and honored when Ellie pulled out a baseball card from her purse, signed it and asked her to give it to me. I still keep in on my desk at home as a reminder of how I might feel 40 years from now—that it was all worth it."
- Next Page »