I wore my 1999 Womenâ€™s World Cup tshirt while cycling this morning, and it reminded me of one reason we decided to start publishing independently: speed.
I got the tshirt when we attended a World Cup game at Foxborough stadium, on a blazing summerâ€™s day in 1999. We were then putting final touches on the International Encyclopedia of Women & Sports, published by Macmilllan. As youâ€™ll see from the extract below, this event presented a special opportunity to talk to women athletes from around the world. When we got to our hotel at midnight, the teams were there, so after picking up an autograph or two I spent an hour running around trying to interview someone from the North Korean team because we really wanted to fill in the sketchy information we had about womenâ€™s sports in that country.
But the encyclopedia wasnâ€™t published till 2001-â€”and it had no update for the 2000 Olympic Games! This was done on big-box publisher time, not on a Berkshire schedule, which goes from start to finish in under two years. From the point we were at when we watched the World Cup would have been no more than two months to press.
Today, I’m happy to say, we get articles out faster, often, than academic journals do, to the amazement and pleasure of our authors. This speed keeps costs down and is good for libraries because their patrons get fresh, accurate information.
Most of our final work on the International Encyclopedia of Women & Sports took place during the Womenâ€™s World Cup of 1999 and we were lucky enough to attend a double header at Foxboro Stadium in Massachusetts. The thrill of the matches and the huge crowd was compounded when we returned to our hotel at midnight and found the lobby full of players from the U.S., Mexican, and North Korean teams we had watched play earlier in the evening. Instead of studying womenâ€™s sports, we were in the midst of it. We watched the players sign soccer balls and pose for photographs with their fans, and we talked to several members and coaches of the three teams.
It was enlightening to be among the calm and confident American players and their friends and families, talking to North Korean officials as the team dined on a buffet of American Chinese food, and chatting with 16-year old Monica, the youngest member of the Mexican team, in the corridor outside our room. Perhaps most striking was the fact that they were wide awake, happy, excited, and hungry, although it was midnight and they had just played 90 minutes of end to end soccer at the height of a heat wave.
The encyclopedia wasnâ€™t forgotten. We had been unable to include an article on North Korea (though we do have one about South Korea) and we were hoping that Mr. Kim, the teamâ€™s spokesman, would be able to help us. Our efforts to meet him were unsuccessful, but the experience left us hopeful that sports – and particularly womenâ€™s sports – will continue to be a means of bringing peoples and cultures together, with increasing understanding and appreciation.
[Here’s what we added to cover ourselves–and Macmillan–as far as the unfortunate delay in publication!!]
It is fitting that this encyclopedia will appear in print soon after the closing of the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. The Olympics is perhaps the most important showcase for womenâ€™s sports, with events broadcast around the world and reported daily by the media. Women gold medalists become instant celebrities in their homelands and sometimes around the world. Because of the significance of the Olympics, we considered delaying publication of this encyclopedia to allow us to cover the Year 2000 Games.
But we did not want to see the publication of this much-needed resource delayed a day longer than necessary. Olympics results and biographical updates will be readily available on numerous websites and in the media, and an assessment of the importance of these particular Olympics in the history of womenâ€™s sorts requires both time and a broader framework than here-and-now event analysis. This encyclopedia is not a source of current events – though we have updated articles through June 2000 – and has a different mission from that of a TV news channel.
The International Encyclopedia of Women & Sports covers all aspects of the history and culture or womenâ€™s sports, the sports themselves, and womenâ€™s sports in the their societal context. Its 500 detailed articles provide context, background information, significant ethnographic and anecdotal information on womenâ€™s sports in the 2000 (and future) Olympic Games.
Karen Christensen and David Levinson
Berkshire Reference Works, part of Berkshire Publishing Group LLC
Great Barrington, Massachusetts