Summer of scandal and the death of sport?

I love sports. Always have. I grew up playing all the usual sports and eagerly tried out a lot of others when I got older. I’ve always been a big spectator, too, watching everything from football, basketball and baseball to soccer, track, cycling, volleyball, water polo – whatever was on, you know?

But these days I watch less sports than at any point in my life, and it seems likely that this downward trend is going to continue. The why is pretty simple. I was raised old school by a grandfather who grew up playing through the Depression. People who knew him back then and saw him play said that under different circumstances he might have been good enough to play in the Bigs. Maybe. Hard to say, because the hard realities of life intruded on the dreams of many in his generation. So he wound up working for a few dollars a week and playing ball on the weekends.

There was a right way and a wrong way to play. Hard, but fair. Sportsmanship mattered. Team ethics mattered. And no game ever happened unless the chores were done and the academics were satisfactorily completed. I was taught to love sport but to understand its rightful place in life. We hear a lot of talk about how sports teaches lessons – yeah, it does. And I was one of the ones who learned it the right way.

I look at the sporting landscape today, though, and I feel like I’m the only one. With each passing day it gets harder and harder to watch sports without feeling the need to take a shower afterwards. If you’re a principled, thinking person, you may spend a lot of time, as I do, realizing that your continued attention to the game is helping finance all the things that are wrong, and you wonder how much longer you can take it. (More…)

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3 comments

  1. I think professional and amateur athletes should be able to cheat in any ways they want, including doping. Maybe then we’d come to our senses as a nation that spends countless hours on its collective ass each week watching people do things instead of doing things ourselves. It’s like video games with even less brain activity. Can someone explain the phenomenon of grown men wearing replica jerseys in public — with an athlete’s name on the back, no less?
    Just for the record: My total viewing of professional and amateur sports in calendar year 2006 may have amounted to 24 hours, and I didn’t watch more than one or two of those events for much more than 15 minutes. However, I am a big fan of televised baseball; it puts me right to sleep.
    A long, long time ago HST wrote an article called “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved,” or words to that effect. He could make that observation about just about any sporting event now — except for youth events where the kids are playing to have fun and parents aren’t standing on the sidelines acting like ignoranuses (yes, that is an N). Even beer league athletes all think they coulda been contenders.

  2. The only thing wrong with killing the rules and letting people cheat at will is that society probably isn’t smart enough to learn from what would happen. I fear the sight of Barry Bonds hitting one OVER McCovey Cove would only increase our lust for all the wrong things.

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