Do I hate sports?

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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 have—in many ways—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 hate—truly, truly, truly hate—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.

Oy.

7 thoughts on “Do I hate sports?”

  1. I think there’s a lot of people who don’t understand the difference between criticism and hate, or rather, how closely related criticism is to love.

    Such is the reason that all movie critics who call Transformers 2 a turd are inevitably flooded with emails from people who accuse them of hating movies. The fact is, these reviewers love movies far more than the emailers. Why else would they demand more from them? Why else would they care?

    I, for one, love the fact that there are writers out there like you who love your subject matter enough to be critical of it. I too think that ESPN could be better and that baseball could be better and that the only way they might get better is if people point out that they should.

  2. I hate when sportswriters rail against anything concerning the steroid era, but I love the fact that those same sportswriters didn’t feel compelled to say anything about it during that era.

  3. Spot on, man.

    I’m young enough where the overblowness of sports seems almost normal, but old enough to know that ESPN does forcefeed us certain things.

    Did you know there are 28 other MLB teams besides the Red Sox and Yankees? Who knew!?

  4. I know it’s not what the post is about, but just had to say I’m reading the Clemens book and it’s really good.
    lot of stuff in there I didn’t know, and I’m a lifelong Red Sox fan.

  5. count me as someone who used to think chris berman was way cool. those nicknames were neat when he first started them about 20 years ago. it was fresh and unique. but you are right: nowadays lots of tv folks think they are the show. keep your chin up, jeff. i always look forward to your stuff. good luck on the next book, too!!

    best
    joe

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