There's such a thing as enjoying your work. But for Roger Jackson, writer of our college basketball roundups (this week's begins on page 51) during the second half of the current season, basketball is, in his words, "my passion." "I don't think obsession is too strong a word," says Senior Editor Larry Keith, who's in charge of college basketball and baseball. "We've had to make an agreement: After the last ball goes through the hoop at the end of the season, he can't talk to me about basketball unless I bring it up. Otherwise I don't think I'd ever get to baseball at all."
At St. Pius X Seminary in Gait, Calif., where he received his secondary-school education, Jackson was sports editor of the school's irregularly published newspaper. He had intended to go on to a major seminary and then into the priesthood, but this was California in 1970. He became concerned about some aspects of the church's position on the Vietnam War and troubled by the question of what his role should be, as a black, in this period of black activism. Upon graduation he decided to pursue another calling.
Jackson spent two years at Sacramento City College, where he was sports editor of the Pony Express, then attended San Francisco State. There, as managing editor of the Phoenix in 1974, he coordinated coverage of elements of the Patty Hearst story—and the shooting of a professor in the hallway outside the Phoenix office. He also worked as a copyboy for two years at The San Francisco Examiner and after graduation from State interned at The Sacramento Bee. He came to SI in August 1976.
Jackson's story subjects have included basketball stars Michael Brooks of LaSalle, Lewis Lloyd of Drake, the McGee sisters and Cheryl Miller of USC and Quintin Dailey of the University of San Francisco. Last year he returned to his old Bay Area turf to research and coauthor, with Senior Writer Bob Boyle, our story on Dailey's assault on a USF nursing student and the school's subsequent decision to drop its basketball program.
It was on his present Manhattan turf—at St. John's Church, across the street from Madison Square Garden—that Jackson met Joan Becht five and a half years ago. Last June he proposed. They married in January, and though Jackson occasionally watches basketball telecasts on cable until 2 a.m., Joan doesn't mind. "It's always been 'Love me, love my basketball,' and I understand completely," she says. "He supports me in my work [with autistic adolescents] and I wouldn't deny him the pleasure he gets from his."
Their wedding, originally set for May, after the hoops season, was moved to Jan. 8. It finally took place on Jan. 2, but not because, as office rumor had it, Georgetown turned out to be playing St. John's at the Garden on the 8th. The honeymoon, of course, will wait at least until April.