In sports, the outcome of games often depend on a few pivotal plays. There are pivotal moments, too, that can have lasting impacts for athletes, teams, and entire sports, which fuel ‘what if’ questions that make for intriguing debates. For example, what if Billie Jean King had lost to Bobby Riggs in their Battle of the Sexes tennis showdown, or what if Tom Brady hadn’t taken over at quarterback for an injured Drew Bledsoe? These are the type of questions that Mike Pesca, a former PBS sports journalist, is intrigued by and puts to writers, historians, and athletes in an edited compilation of alternative scenarios.
Here’s an excerpt from Upon Further Review:
“Had [Bobby] Riggs won it’s quite likely his next contest would have been a rematch with [Billie Jean] King herself. Given King’s competitive wiring, it is completely inconceivable that had she lost to Riggs, she would’ve just gone away. King ended her Hall of Fame career with the thirty-nine Grand Slam titles and universal acclaim as one of the greatest pure competitors on the planet. One of her signature quotes was, ‘Champions keep playing until they get it right.'
“She would’ve kept up the fight. She would’ve been in the face of every tournament promoter who tried to tell her that women didn’t deserve the same treatment, and pay, as men. She would’ve railed about the hideous hypocrisy of treating people differently because of gender, race, or sexual orientation.
“She would’ve said what she did say at a stop on the WTA tour once: ‘Everyone thinks women should be thrilled when we get crumbs, and I want women to get the cake, the icing, and the cherry on top, too.’"