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Boston Globe Columnist: 'A Little Bit Of Freedom Taken Away'


This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. We are so saddened and outraged by the bombings yesterday at the Boston Marathon. We're going to start the show, today, with a brief call to Dan Shaughnessy, a Boston Globe sports columnist who's covered many of the Boston Marathons. He's been named Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year eight times, and seven times has been voted one of America's top 10 sports columnists by AP sports editors.

Dan Shaughnessy, thank you for taking some time to talk with us. We're all thinking about Boston and the people in it, and those who have been injured or those who have lost people. Just, let's start with what's the place of the Boston Marathon in the life of the city of Boston, and in the international world of running?

DAN SHAUGHNESSY: Well, as a - if you live here, it's one of those days that it's hard to explain to your friends in other places. It's a Monday, but nobody's working. There's no school. There's a baseball game, Major League Baseball game, that starts at 11 in the morning, and it's Patriots Day. There's a reenactment of the Battle of Lexington. And the day goes on, and you hope for good weather, and the whole world running community comes here for the Boston Marathon, which has been held for 117 years.

GROSS: And do you usually cover it?

SHAUGHNESSY: I've probably covered 15, 20 marathons going back to 1976. Sometimes I'm at the baseball game; sometimes I'm at the marathon. Yesterday I was home, where I had family members in the marathon and others viewing the close of the race.

GROSS: Is your family OK?

SHAUGHNESSY: Everybody was fine, thanks. It was interesting rounding people up because the competitor in question, it was a 64-year-old woman who was running for a cancer charity and in name of my daughter, who was a patient a long time ago, who thankfully did well. And they were trying to find each other. The cells were shut down there. They didn't want to set off devices, and people's cell phones, the towers were shut down for a while.

And my daughter actually found a - and reached me on a landline. So it was very old-school communications.

GROSS: I think, you know, many sports fans and many terrorism experts and police have been worried for years that sports events, stadium events might be targeted by terrorists. And now we've seen this happen at the Boston Marathon. As a sports columnist, are you going to have any fears, any reservations about attending sporting events in big stadiums now, knowing that OK, it's happened, a big sporting event has been targeted?

SHAUGHNESSY: Well, I mean, you go back far enough, this stuff has been going on. I mean, you can go back to obviously Munich in the '70s. And I was in Barcelona in '92. There was a lot of threat there. And Atlanta in '96, the Olympics, the bomb did go off in Centennial Park. I was there, not at the scene, but at the Olympics.

There's a lot of security at the Olympics always, the World Cup, the Super Bowl. But when you have a venue in an arena or stadium, the security is generally handled to get in there. So you go to the World Series after 9/11 in New York City, it's a big deal to get into Yankee Stadium. It's hard to get in there.

So you kind of feel a little bit secure. I mean, you see snipers on the rooftops of Yankee Stadium, but you all went through security to get in there. It's a little different when you have an open event, a 26-mile course, and it's just - it's a lot of people there, and I'm not sure how you can, kind of, protect people against this.

GROSS: Any final thoughts you'd like to leave us with?

SHAUGHNESSY: Well, we're just sad here. We'll - you know, we'll fight back, and we'll be OK, but it's - it just changed it. I mean, this has been such a sweet, charming day for 117 years, and now we're going to have this memory attached to it.

GROSS: Well Dan Shaughnessy, I wish you well, and I thank you very much for talking with us.

SHAUGHNESSY: Thank you, Terry.

GROSS: Dan Shaughnessy is a sports columnist for the Boston Globe. Our thoughts go out to everyone in Boston and to everyone from around the world who were injured or lost someone they love. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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