Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dear Sports, you are losing me.....

It seems that over the past few years, I have started drifting away from being a "sports junky". It just doesn't hold my interest as much as it used to. Yes, I have moved toward other things, but sports has always been a big part of my life.

I started playing baseball in Little League when I was 8 years old and fell in love with the game and the major leagues. I followed the Reds, Red Sox, and pretty much every other team religiously. Steve Garvey, Dale Murphy, Johnny Bench...these were heroes of mine. I also had an interest in football at the pro level, settling on the Cowboys as my favorite team and Roger Staubach as my favorite player. Later, I started following the NBA, but it was never a passion. What turned out to be my biggest passion, was Louisville Cardinal athletics. I also was into UK basketball for a period, but was cured of that after the Final Four loss to Georgetown, back in 1984. Sucked the life out of my caring anything about the Cats. The Cards started being my biggest sports passion, and that has lasted up until the last few months.

Sports has been evolving for decades, and I don't think that evolution has been for the better, from a fans standpoint. Professional players have become increasingly inaccessible and "god like", as they seem to operate many times, outside the life rules that the rest of us follow. There isn't a week goes by that we don't hear about a player getting locked up for carrying illegal weapons, abusing hard drugs, animal abuse, drunk driving, rape, or physical assault. Those things are sports news now. The scores are relegated to second and third page status (for those who still read a newspaper). Most of us watch sports to enjoy the competition, the athleticism, and that strange camaraderie that comes out of gathering with like minded folks and cheering for your common interests. In today's sports, it's all about personality and headlines.

College athletics is following suit. Many of the top players, don't really want to be where they are, they are ready to "get paid". Many of the coaches don't really care about where they are, they are looking constantly to the next job and next big pay day. In Kentucky, we have had the most disgusting stories as of late. Rick Pitino and his marital infidelity is front page news, as is John Calipari's second Final Four being stripped from his former employer. It makes you wonder why you should care at all. Neither of these men, seem like they are steeped in integrity. Why do I worry about Louisville or the Red Sox winning or losing so much? What do I have to gain, other than some bragging rights and a short euphoric feeling after a win? It's time for me to get right with my life and start taking some joy out of things that I can do or things that I can appreciate without having to worry about cheating, jail time, court dates and other ordeals that sports figures seem to dwell in these days.

I do realize that media exposure has a lot to do with my feelings. A couple of decades ago, we didn't have 200 channels, the NFL Network, four or five different ESPN channels, FOX Sports, the internet, satellite radio, 24 hour sports talk, message forums, and Twitter. The news was mostly limited to on field activity. But, as sports grew in popularity, it also grew into a part of pop culture. Celebrities used to be actors, comedians, and musicians. Now, everyone is a celebrity. Everyone knows everyone else's personal business, and for some reason people care deeply about it. It's the ultimate in reality TV. Not only do you get to watch an athlete play, you get to know how he or she conducts their life off the field.

I think I'll move back towards music and film for my hobby time. I enjoy writing. I enjoy reading. Honestly, I never thought I'd get to this point with sports. I'm at take it or leave it. For the first time in well over a decade I don't have Louisville football or basketball season tickets. And I'm not worried about it at all. I simply don't care like I did.

"Now my old friend, The Bachelor,Well, he swore he was the Oklahoma Kid.And Cookie played hooky,To go and see the Duke.And me, I always loved Willie Mays,Those were the days!"

Talkin' Baseball---Terry Cashman


  1. Freddy, I hear you. I think sports will take a reasonable place in your heirchy because you played them and loved them. I know what we have in common, that way. You will undoubtedly enjoy watching your kids play like I did, if they choose to go that route. And you will appreciate the real background of any sports - hard frigging work and practice. It instills a work ethic and one which you do without complaint.

    The rest of it? Owing to all those TV channels and the apparent "rubbing shoulders" people feel when in the mental proximity of their heroes, they think they are suddenly sportsmen. It has allowed a clinging public to believe they are more than they are, in my opinion. Thus you get completely inapproprite people coaching kids. Having coached against a few of them, I can tell you now how obnoxious some can be - and without any merit except taking their time to mess kids up. I have a few enemies, lol.

    And that doesn't even cover removing the mystery from Stan Musial's life. I mean, who the hell wants to know more about Stan the Man? He was loved for all the right reasons. Just as others we know should be. Maybe it's about love and maturity, after all.

    I loved your post, dude.

  2. Thanks for the comments Steve. As per usual, you are right on. You hit on a couple of things I didn't. One being how adults view sports and pass that down to children in coaching. The other is the mystery that isn't there in regards to our "heroes". You said it best, "who the hell wants to know more about Stan the Man?"!! I have always loved the on field persona of these people. Once you start finding out they are human, it sucks the romance out of sports. The romance you and I felt as youngsters in the back yard hitting whiffle ball, pretending to be Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Johnny Bench, or Reggie Jackson!

  3. I didn't pretend to be Stan the Man. I was Stan the man! ;-)