Monday, December 17, 2007

Modern Sports Scene: Rooting or Ranting ?

For over six decades I have been an avid sports fan.
Often, I was also a participant although as an amateur with limited ability.
The competition, challenge, action and social aspects were all part of the enjoyment.

Later, watching others play became good entertainment, if not a temporary distraction from life's demands.
I can't begin to remember the number of games I've watched, at all levels, from Little League, to High School, to College, to the Olympics, and to the Pros.
All kinds of games and competitions, too. Not just the 'big three' of basketball, football & baseball.

But now, I'm really beginning to lose interest.
And its not just because I'm older, less able and can't find teams or opponents to fit.
It's because organized sports have become way too commercial and prone to cheating.

Maybe it's just me, but I don't think so.
There are still millions of people who are willing to pay big bucks to watch sports events.
The masses do need their opiates, probably more now than earlier in time, when they had less leisure and more certainty.

A few of my beefs that have added up over the years include these:

Parents often like to live through their kids, sometimes pushing them too hard to succeed.
Have you ever witnessed a Dad or Mom who got so riled up that their kid didn't play, cuss out the coach?
Or worse, act like fools cheering or jeering?

High Schools have always been places that seem to overvalue athletes, like football heroes.
That was a certain way to become popular, particularly with the cheerleaders!
Some high schools actually began recruiting better athletes from other places, just to win.

It used to be that going to college mostly meant excelling academically, and struggling to pay for it.
Now, the definitions of 'learning' and 'profession' have been stretched to include pro sports careers.
The 'Big Man on Campus' athlete of yesteryear has come to mean 'big, strong person desiring quick riches by becoming a pro player'.

The Olympics used to be a truly Amateur event that brought the World together.
Now, it's a commercial bonanza that features professional athletes enjoying major advantages over amateurs.
And, the athletes actually shop for a country to represent - but I guess that's better than starting wars, or allowing the rich to dominate.

Finally, the Professional teams have become collections of highly talented, spoiled and rich Prima Donnas.
Best players are often so into their lives of astounding excess, brutality, performance-enhancing drugs and pursuit of personal stardom that they no longer seem real or human.
Their loyalty is to the owner that will pay them the most right now, not to their team or its fans.

In fact, I think the word 'fan' could now mostly be replaced by the word 'consumer', don't you?
You will probably begin to before long, as the major networks begin to cut back on the number of free games that are televised or broadcast.
Some of the stuff on TV now doesn't even deserve to be called sports, and I wonder who is really being entertained by it?

Maybe its time to reassess my sports habits?
You know, like become more of a participant again.
That means finding some things I like to do and still can do that are also healthy.

There's plenty of that material left to explore, so I'm gonna do it!
That will probably make my wife happier, and me too.
And, there's still free sports on BTV10!