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July 31, 1992 - Image 53

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-07-31

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Dateline: Barcelona

Free Press sportswriter says travel is the best part of her job.

Michelle Kaufman: Covering the Olympic Games.


Staff Writer


ost of the time,
Michelle Kaufman
doesn't need to pin-
ch herself to realize where
she is. But sometimes it gets
a little heady, as it did
earlier this year at the
Winter Olympic Games in
Albertville, France.
"I sat in the stands and
thought to myself, 'I am only
26 years old (she is now 27)
and I'm already covering the
Olympics for one of the 10
biggest newspapers in the
United States.' Sometimes I
just can't believe it."
Right now, the Detroit Free
Press sportswriter is cover-
ing the Summer Olympics in
Barcelona, where the lang-
uage, food and muggy
weather are more to her
tastes. She hails from
Miami, but a small pocket of
the close-knit Kaufman clan
remains in Cuba where her
parents grew up.
Before she left her Farm-
ington Hills residence for
the airport last week, Kauf-
man most likely phoned her
younger brother, Steve, a 20-
year-old senior at the Uni-
versity of Florida. Kauf-
man's interest in sports

began with Steve. "My
brother played every sport
since he was 4, and I was his
biggest fan,"she said.
Now Steve is proud, and a
little envious, of his big
sister. "Every time I call
him and tell him about my
upcoming trip," Kaufman
said, "he goes, 'Shut up. I
don't want to hear it. Your
job is not a job. It's some-
thing other people would do
for free.' "
Kaufman brings the
human touch to sports
stories. Her drive to gain
equal footing in the male-

Kaufman fought
the locker room
battle with the
Tampa Bay

dominated world of sports
has earned respect from her
colleagues and editors. She
is not afraid, for example, to
enter male bastions such as
the Tampa Bay Buccaneer
locker room to get her story.
All this has helped bring
her to a pinnacle in her pro-
fession usually reserved for
older, male colleagues.
Kaufman is bright and

educated (she speaks
Spanish and French fluent-
ly). She is a graduate of the
University of Miami. At
about 5-foot-5-inches, she is
relatively short, but she
moves in a misty world in-
habited by heroes like
Michael Jordan and Bo
Jackson (she has inter-
viewed them both).
She is also most grateful
for a "dream job" that allows
her to travel all over the
world and experience world
politics firsthand. It feeds a
hunger for information
about issues she is most con-
cerned about — human
rights and equal rights for
But sit her down, let her
go, and she will talk at
length about her relatives in
Cuba, who for 30 years re-
mained virtually out of
touch with the rest of her
family. That is until Kauf-
man visited them last
summer in Havana when
she was allowed to enter
Cuba as a journalist cover-
ing the Pan American
"When I first got the
assignment, my parents
didn't want me to go,"
Kaufman said "They were
afraid that somehow I'd get
stuck there because it was so

hard for them to get out."
(Kaufman's parents left
Cuba along with most of her
relatives during the com-
munist revolution led by
Her family in America was
also lukewarm about rrcon-
necting with a small branch
of the family that had chosen
to align itself with Castro.
"But I felt these are our
relatives. They are our flesh
and blood over there,"
Kaufman said.
Once she phoned her Aunt
Sara from her hotel,
coverage of the Pan Ameri-
can Games took a back seat
to her family reunion and
discovery of the de-
teriorating Cuban Jewish
community. Kaufman re-
counted this visit in a first-
person piece in the Free
Press that appeared last
Yom Kippur.
At the hotel, she was able
, • • •
to pick Aunt Sara out of
a crowa even though the two
had never met. "They took
me over to their house and
opened up the closet and
took out boxes of pictures of
my dad, baby pictures I had
never seen, wedding pictures
of my grandparents, my
great-grandparents from
Europe. It was great."
Later Kaufman attended

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