A man named Bob wrote me a few minutes ago and asked, more or less, Why do you hate sports?
I understand that viewpoint. In fact, were I reading my blog without knowing, uh, me, perhaps I’d have the same take on the author. Why is this guy so negative? So angry? So bitter?
Here’s the truth:
I don’t hate sports. I love sports. I hate what sports haveâ€”in many waysâ€”become.
I love Walter Payton scoring a touchdown and handing the ball to an offensive lineman to spike. I hate T.O. whipping out a pen and signing the ball.
I love that, as a kid, I could have a birthday party at Yankee Stadium for, oh, $80 bucks. Me, my friends, some hot dogs and Cokes. I hate that, as a dad, I probably couldn’t afford a birthday party at Yankee Stadium for my daughter or son.
I love how the NBA Draft used to be a bonanza of intrigue. Who were Xavier McDaniel and Wayman Tisdale, and how would they do on the big stage? I hate that, nowadays, eighth graders are scouted by universities and offered scholarships.
I love how Joe Charboneau used to open beer bottles with his eye socket. I hate how now there would be a contractual clause banning the practice.
I loved watching Sal Marciano and Jerry Girard and Len Berman on the evening news. They were my local sportscasters, and they let the stories unfold for themselves. I hateâ€”truly, truly, truly hateâ€”Stu Scott and Chris Berman. They are wanna-be celebrities. Buffoons. Their need to be the story will never feel right with me. Never.
I loved the World Series, because it was an opportunity to see, oh, Bret Saberhagen face Vince Coleman for the only time all year. I despise interleague play.
I loved spring training as a boy, when my grandparents would take me to watch the Yankees train in Ft. Lauderdale. A program was a quarter, and players were obligated to sign. I still love spring training as a man. Only programs are $5, and autographs are hard to come by.
I loved the pre-e-mail era of column writing, when letters to the editor were reasoned and thought-out. I hate the modern, “Your column on the Yankees sucked!!! Blow me, asswipe!!” reaction to sportswriting
Really, I still love the games. But just as church has damned religion, corporate greed has damned sports.