Today it was announced that “Only a Game,” the venerable NPR sports show produced by WBUR in Boston, will cease production in September and its staff would be laid off. As a longtime listener of the show this is very sad news
For a while, though, I was more than a listener. I was fortunate enough to contribute to and appear on the show many times in recent years. In November 2018 I was even asked to host the entire episode which featured my story about the 1898 Wilmington Massacre, in which North Carolina white supremacists murdered anywhere from 60-300 Black citizens in what amounted to a coup d’état but which for years was portrayed as a “race riot.” The story made some big waves at the University of North Carolina, even causing the school to change the name of its football stadium (well, sort of). It remains the piece of work I am most proud of in either my media or legal careers and there is no way it would’ve had the impact it had if it wasn’t for “Only a Game” amplifying it.
I wish that, given how much negative and corrosive sports radio exists, the breath of fresh air that is “Only a Game” could continue. I wish that the wonderful people who have made it their labor of love for so many years — including its host and executive producer Karen Given, its producer Martin Kessler, and so many others who make the show what it is did not have to suffer due to its cancellation. I hope — though it’s likely a vain hope — that some miracle happens and some benefactor swoops in and makes it so those good people can continue the work they do so well.
Most of all I wish we didn’t live in such a shitty time in history. A time that is making so many bad things happen.
(Featured Image: Seattle Municipal Archives via Wikimedia Commons)