As sent to legendary New York Times sports columnist, Mr. George Vecsey:

Mr. Vecsey,

For as much as you have loved writing about the human condition through the framework of sports, I have loved reading what you have to say.

As my family and friends will tell you, I relish in the Sunday morning’s where I have zero plans other than cozying up with a hot cup of coffee and reading the entire Sunday New York Times cover-to-cover.  I think you can tell a lot about a person by what section of the paper they read first.  Me, always sports. (Okay, not entirely true, sometimes a quick peek at the list of countries noted on the footer of the front page of the travel section to see if there are any places I’ve been or have always wanted to visit.  Then, back to sports.)  The tournament results, the scores, the line on that Sunday’s NFL game, all well and good, but I live for the stories.  The ones like yours that remind you that it’s about more than sports; as your editor once told you, it is about the humanity in sports.

I’ve had the distinct good fortune to work in the sports industry for my entire adult life.  I started in a small, grassroots company, then spent a stint in corporate America, and now, for the past two years or so, have had the privilege of working for an organization that uses sports as a tool for social change:  Special Olympics.

Some of your New York Times colleagues have covered us over the years, but I don’t know that you’ve really had the chance to experience our movement.  If you write for the “greatest newspaper in the world” then I wanted to ensure you had the open invitation from us to spend time with the greatest athletes in the world.  I realize I may work in PR, but please don’t consider this a pitch.  Consider it an offer.

You mention in your closing regular column that for all of the amazing sporting events you’ve covered, the eight World Cups were the best sporting events on the planet.  I attended the World Cup in South Africa last summer, so I hear you.  Amazing, yes, but still not quite as moving as watching a stadium full of people cheer on a Special Olympics athlete from Peru to the finish line.  Don’t believe me. Fine, I get it.  Read this piece from a fellow sports reporter who witnessed it with his own eyes.  For all the pro sporting events in the world, nothing exudes the power of the human condition through sports like Special Olympics.

That is just one of countless examples.  Special Olympics serves nearly 4 million athletes with intellectual disabilities in more than 50,000 events a year.  There are countless opportunities to experience the power of Special Olympics.  Not just our World Games every two years (although we do have World Games coming up in Korea in 2013 and in Los Angeles in 2015, if you want to bookmark your calendar), but every day in communities around the world.  From right down the street from you in New York or New Jersey, to the other side of the world in Nigeria or even Samoa.

So I’ll offer you this: a chance to come experience Special Olympics for yourself.  Write about us, don’t write about us.  You’re the legendary writer and I’m the 30-something PR girl with enough sense to know I’m not one in the position to tell you what to cover.

However I will also heed the advice of your other editor. “Be yourself.”   This is me, writing to you, telling you purely sports fan to sports writer that you’re missing out in life if you don’t spend some time with our athletes. It will honor the ideals instilled in you all those years ago.

Thank you, happy holidays and best of luck to you in the future.  Our Special Olympics door is always open should you want to find us.

Mandy Murphy

One thought on “An Open Invitation To Find The Humanity In Sports

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