AJR  Letters
From AJR,   February/March 2005

A Real Pioneer   

By Unknown

Sherry Ricchiardi's article on women sportswriters was excellent ("Offensive Interference," December/January), but the struggle began earlier than the "new frontier in American journalism in the mid-1970s," as she referred to it.

Sue Dabbs was a sportswriter before a number of the "pioneers" mentioned in Ricchiardi's article were born. Sue wrote for the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi, back in the days when the Hederman family still owned the newspaper and women simply weren't sportswriters. While working for the Jackson Daily News, the Clarion-Ledger's afternoon sister paper, I recall instances of blatant discrimination when Sue couldn't cover a game because a certain "big name" coach wouldn't talk with her. There were times when she would have to wait outside a dressing room to talk to a coach after a game--and interview rooms were set up at Mississippi Memorial Stadium in the early 1970s to accommodate all sportswriters as a tribute to the quality of her work and in respect for her.

Sue was the ultimate professional and gave this rookie scribe the benefit of her expertise as she did her job to the best of her abilities. She never worked on network television, nor did she write for a major metro, but the true battle to open the door to female sportswriters began in markets like Jackson, Mississippi, with sportswriters like Sue Dabbs.

Yes, there still is a long way to go, but the journey is shorter because women like Sue pursued their dreams and refused to be turned away by closed doors.

John H. Walker
Thomasville Times
Thomasville, North Carolina