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Choices - April 8
James Dinan

On April first, I received a call from a contestant coordinator for ESPN's Stump the Schwab. She said the show wanted me to appear in New York for a first-round taping on 4/7.

There was a problem though. Pope John Paul was near death, and I could not walk away from my job and my co-workers to fly to New York to tape a TV show. I explained to the contestant coordinator that the death of the pontiff was a major story, perhaps the "story of the year," and my role as a copy editor comes first.

I asked that the tape date be moved to a Saturday or Sunday. No dice. I asked that the tape date be moved to a day after the Pope's funeral takes place, or after a new pope is chosen. She responded by asking that I "sleep on it" for the weekend.

I left a message with her the next day, repeating what I told her Friday night. In other words, I said no.

One of this show's gimmicks is that they want contestants who sacrificed "important moments of their lives" for sports. So you'll probably see someone who missed a friend's wedding, missed a graduation, even missed a funeral for a sporting event on this season's edition of "Schwab".

But as a Roman Catholic, Pope John Paul II is the only pope I know -- I'm too young to remember Paul VI or John Paul I. And as a copy editor, being on call and at work is my duty. Everything else is second. When news of the pope's imminent demise became public, co-workers came to me when they found out I was Roman Catholic -- asking me about Roman Catholics traditions, sacraments, etc. I helped them with copy about the Roman Catholic Church that may confuse non-Catholics.

Choosing to tape a TV show over dealing with the pope's death is a slap in the face to my job, my co-workers and my faith. It's a shame that the people behind "Schwab" fail to realize that there are more important things in life than taping a TV show, especially with a tragedy that affects more than one billion people worldwide.

Deep down, I know I made the right decision, and I know my family
and friends agree with my choice. But there's a part of me that wishes
the *Schwab* producers could understand why I made this decision.

James Dinan can be reached at


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