Since February I have just about given up on sports. During most of my life I have been a sports fanatic, following just about anything.
About the time the Michael Vick atrocities hit I became irritated. Irritated with him, and with the way it became a national case. Irritated that he was so stupid and that it was somehow a national tragedy that he was going to jail.
Then the constant bashing of the patriots over the camera thing drove me nuts. If anyone thinks that almost every other team is not trying to steal signals, they are blissfully unaware of reality. I coached on a high school team that used four coaches to send in plays. Other teams had coaches whose job it was to decipher our signals, so we would vary the signals. The whining and attempts to denigrate the Patriots by people jealous of their success made me further frustrated.
When Dana Jacobsen got suspended from ESPN for ripping on Notre Dame and Jesus (off the air) at the Mike & Mike roast and there was outrage I took a break from ESPN. When Itried to turn the radio or TV back on it was all-Roger-Clemens all-the-time and it had nothing to do with actual pitching.
Which brings us to this baseball and steroids. I just don't care if anyone took steroids. I just don't. If baseball didn't want people to take steroids, they should have tested for it. That's what football has been doing for years. Give them a suspension and then put them back to work if they fail. Hell we test high school players. Instead it was a continuation of the flagellation of excellence - beating on Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire with no actual proof just innuendo and questionable sources. And again, I don't care if they did. Thanks for trying hard to be successful and entertain me guys. Then came the unmerciful hounding of Roger Clemens until all his dirty laundry was in public. He didn't do enough to deserve that harassment, and now a great player, probably the best pitcher of the last 40 years (since Gibson & Koufax) is needlessly embarrassed and tainted.
I didn't push to form a fantasy baseball league and I have not watched one baseball game this season. I'm not sure who is in first place. Is it the Devil Rays? The world has turned upside down.
The Celtics won in Basketball and I have been a fan of them since about 1973. I'm glad for Kevin Garnett, who appears to be a genuine hard worker and leader. I didn't watch a minute of it, and truthfully I had to rack my brain just now to remember who won. Just not that excited about it.
I have not watched a minute of the Olympics live. I watched the relay team anchor man hawk down the frenchman on internet video and got very excited. I watched a replay of the final two gymnastic performances by the US gold & silver winners. Blah. I'm glad for them, but floor exercise is a ridiculous sporting event. Why do the two big women's events, summer & winter, have to be judged? Making them necessarily subjective. I'm just not happy with the Olympics being in China. It validates their oppressive Maoist-captitalist regime. It's bad enough I can't actually live without having to by Chinese goods anymore, I don't have to support this. I want the US to do well, and I'm fired up about Michael Phelps (a little), but it all makes me uneasy.
Maybe football will draw me back this year, but if ESPN and reporters spend all their time "Outside the Lines" and focusing on non-game stories I will be hard-pressed not to give it the boot.
Then there is Alabama football. Maybe my uneasiness actually began when we hired Saban and he and we were unmercifully destroyed in the press. I mean I enjoyed PTI and Wilbon (and have actually watched it twice this week) but he pounds on Saban. I have kept up steadily with team developments and a college friend is the lead writer for a new bama website, and I will try to enjoy it. But the last ten years of controversy and embarrassment and incompetence have even put my enthusiasm to the test. I have a great deal of respect for the process that Saban has installed and I think he knows exactly what should be done to make us successful. An egotistical controlling jerk is probably exactly what we needed, as long as he knows what he's doing, which I think he does. So maybe Alabama football will allow me to enjoy sports again.
Either way it has been a very different experience, sort of being less-informed, which is not my style, and spending less time thinking about it. Not fretting over a doomed fantasy team (except for the great 2004 League Champions, led by Barry Bonds, of course) and not living and dying by the bridesmaid Braves who, I gather, have finally collapsed. I suspect I will return to form during football, but my level of devotion to all things sport, at this midway-point in my expected lifespan, is a sea-change that I think I can live with. Carry on (and roll tide anyway). -mr