Response to Mark Whicker's tasteless sports column in the OC Register has been so brutal that he was forced to make a public apology on the newspaper's Web site The column was about all the big sporting events - and personalities - that were missed out by Jaycee Dugard, the woman who was kidnapped 18 years ago in Northern California. Here's how he opens:
It doesn't sound as if Jaycee Dugard got to see a sports page. Box scores were not available to her from June 10, 1991 until Aug. 31 of this year. She never saw a highlight. Never got to the ballpark for Beach Towel Night. Probably hasn't high-fived in a while. She was not allowed to spike a volleyball. Or pitch a softball. Or smack a forehand down the line. Or run in a 5-footer for double bogey. Now, that's deprivation.
Here's a snippet of Whicker's apology:
It's obvious that I miscalculated the effect the column on Jaycee Dugard, and the events that she might have missed during her captivity, had on those who read, buy and advertise in our newspaper. For 22 1/2 years at The Register, I feel like I've had a good and direct relationship with our audience and I think most of the regular readers know how I go about reporting and commenting on sports. This column appears to have disconnected that bond with at least part of our readers. For that I apologize.
Whicker tells Michael David Smith at Fanhouse that the column idea was his. "It was my concept, which was to (1) celebrate the release of the girl and (2) show just how long 18 years in confinement really is," he emailed to Smith.