Dear Sports: I’m Just Not That Into You

When did sports become so unlikable?

It used to be that sports was a respite from the everyday; a temporary form of escapism that was fun and legal. It was a snow globe fascination whose import was clear as life and death but whose suspension of disbelief allowed us to dream like children. It was a gloriously forgiving province where loss was temporary, victory was forever and next year was a sweet promise.

Being a sports fan these days is like being stuck in a marriage that went too long.

Major League baseball used to feel like summer. A day at the ballpark was like a picnic on steroids (pun intended). Now, the early and late season games feel like Stalingrad, and they last just as long. Home runs are no longer celebrated, they’re investigated. I’m just thankful the emphasis on analytics wasn’t around back in the day or it would’ve killed those moments supplied by Bucky Dent, Bill Mazeroski and Kirk Gibson.

The NBA has become a three point shooting contest that feels like a two and a half hour commercial for licensed product. Defense is optional and humility a foreign word. There’s no Jordan-like presence to provide stability and a rooting interest for Association fans. We know LeBron is the greatest player of his time because his Instagram page says so. And Kevin Durant went from darling to dickhead faster than a WWE wrestler.

I feel sorry for the NHL, because they seem to be doing things the right way. But truth be told, it doesn’t feel like hockey when Canada has gone twenty four years without a Cup and we have clubs in Tampa, Nashville, Anaheim and Las Fucking Vegas.

And that brings me to the NFL, whose wild popularity says more about us than it does about them. Love of this sport feels increasingly narcissistic, as the actual games seem to have taken a back seat to gambling, fantasy league and social commentary.

The new normal for keeping score includes police logs, contract disputes and TMZ-like reports detailing every aspect of the players’ personal lives. None of which feels like escapism, in the least bit.

Ask the casual fan about pro football and their response will probably have something to do with the anthem protests. And is there a better example of much ado about nothing than those protests? Colin Kaepernick became the face of a movement to which he never quite understood the gravitas. His gesture- to kneel during the national anthem in protest of the inequities of a country that purports to be all about equality and fairness- was a righteous one. Kaepernick meant well, and he did donate over a million dollars out of his own pocket to various causes in the aftermath. But his message was mitigated by failed optics that made him look as if he was more interested in symbolism than substantial change.

On the other side of all that, the irony is that he was right on about the double standards that exist in our power structure. Because he and several of his peers who kneeled with him are still looking for work; in a league that has been filling roster spots with lesser talent in a transparent blackballing effort.

Meanwhile, the San Francisco 49ers (Kaepernick’s former team) are holding serve on whether or not to cut linebacker Reuben Foster. They’re going to let the courts play out first as Foster faces two felony domestic violence counts and a felony weapons charge for possession of an assault weapon. Basically, Foster beat the shit out of a woman but his team won’t cut bait just yet because he can help them win.

How many fans are going to ‘quit’ watching games over the Foster story, the way they vowed to quit when Kaep took a knee? And why isn’t President Trump railing on about how the NFL will employ dog killers and men who batter women . . just as long as they don’t kneel.

Sports used to live somewhere else, far from the worries and troubles of our every day lives. Nowadays, it’s like a pain in the ass neighbor who throws a party and trashes our property. And while I still dig the games, I find myself increasingly detached from the box scores and standings I used to know by heart.

If this truly was a marriage, I’d file for divorce.

75 thoughts on “Dear Sports: I’m Just Not That Into You”

  1. Baseball — one of the issues for me is that the Giants World Series runs at the beginning of this decade were beautiful and joyous and wonderful, but they have ruined me forever. I used to be able to watch sad sack Giants games religiously. Now? Not so much. The other issue is that baseball has become a game of home runs, strikeouts, and ground balls hit to the second baseman playing in shallow right field — and throw in endless pitching changes in the last four innings — and games have just become a grind. There’s not much joy in Mudville these days. Before you go there, I’m not suggesting that the rules of the game be changed. The shift should not be outlawed!! Instead left-handed batters should be learning how to hit the other way. I’m not suggesting there be a limit on pitching changes, but sheesh, I’m so tired of having a different pitcher for every batter in the final innings of just about every game.

    NBA — yes, hasn’t Durant just about ruined the game. The beauty of the Warriors for the first three years of their run was how much they enjoyed playing basketball together and how much they showed they were having fun. Draymond Green has been a dick the whole time but at least he was a happy dick. Now? Not so much and I blame Durant. He has become one of those angry, bitter, chip on his shoulder athletes who never smiles except when he twists the dagger just a bit more. I think it has spread to some of the other players on the team. And they just aren’t as fun to watch anymore and also aren’t playing as well. Don’t get me started on Lebron.

    NFL — don’t get me started here either. So many problems, so little capability to address those problems. There was a story a week or two ago about a guy who retired from being an usher at Pittsburgh Pirates games after 81 years on the job. He was 99 years old. But imagine what and who he saw over those 81 years. And the game hasn’t really changed that much in all that time. But the NFL? Pffft … they change the rules every frickin’ year!

    And, yes, particularly during the playoffs, the NHL is the best thing going and nobody watches.

    I, too, am trying to figure out how to file for a divorce from sports. It’s very difficult, however, to figure out to break a lifelong addiction. Kind of the same problem I have with politics.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. King,

      You’re right about baseball. I loved the Giants finally breaking through in 2010. But it soon become the West Coast equivalent of Red Sox redux. That special feeling of rooting for a team that always had “next year” to fall back on was replaced with a winning or misery culture.
      I LOVED Durant not that long ago. But he’s surly as all get out anymore. And you’re right. The Warriors style in those first three years was magical. They spread the floor, distributed the ball, played smart D and were likable. Now? Meh!
      The NHL playoffs rock! But does ANYONE outside of Pittsburgh know the Penguins are going for three straight Cups?
      And the NFL . . those rules! How is it THIS difficult to determine what a catch is?!!! I just don’t get it.

      As per usual, your comments are a delight. Thank you for chiming in!

      Peace

      Liked by 1 person

      1. As a lifelong Giants fan who struggled through 40 years of futility, I saw absolutely no issues with the even year repeats. 😉 But I can appreciate the perspective of other fans. The game needs change and different teams rising and falling. Nothing could be worse than another Warriors-Cavs final in the NBA. I’d likely throw something at the TV if that happened.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The Giants even year repeats was kind of fun. And hey, it wasn’t easy to accomplish that! As teams such as the Cubs are figuring out, having a great young roster, a top skipper and solid front office are no guarantee for a long run. As for the Cavs and Warriors 4? No. No way . . . Anything but that.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Dearest B,

    Once again, you have brilliantly brought to the fore what is on more than a few minds. The joy of sports has been deflated by one or another rumour/controversy/horrid deed/political brouhaha. I’m not foolish enough to believe there weren’t any in the good ole days but man, nothing like this! The Rocket’s only “misdeed” was fighting back and getting suspended for the remainder of a season for it and trying to get paid a decent salary – which he never got.

    And, I have a HUGE problem with keeping playings “working” despite the crimes they’ve committed because they can “make us win”… They all need to be “Harvey Weinsteined”…

    Excellent piece, B, excellent.

    Peace and sporstmanship,

    Q

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Q,

      It’s not surprising I have to go North of the border for a level headed take on this. I was much too myopic in my rant, but it DOES piss me off. We don’t follow sports the way we used to. We use them the way they use us, and it’s sad.
      The Rocket Richard? I miss the Canadians. And the Oilers. And Flames. And Nords. And Canada being king of hockey. It used to be special when an American team wrested the Cup away from you guys.
      I guess it didn’t help that I watched “Paterno” on HBO last night. It really set me off, the pervasive nature of sports these days. THAT is a post, lol.

      Thank you for the props and for being the adult, lol.

      Peace and a return of the Cup to Canada!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. B,

        Well now… I’m at a loss for words – yeah… Thank you for saying I’m level-headed – would you be so kind as to tell those who don’t believe it?

        Seriously. The Rocket. Did you see the movie? Of course not, it’s a Canadian production. However, I’m sure you could get it somewhere…

        I sometimes wonder if the Habs will ever be The Habs again…

        Peace and return of the Cup to MONTREAL

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Mon ami,

        I’m sure your provocations have nothing to do with the fact that some peeps think you can be crazy at times . . . 🙂

        But they, like me . . know the crazy is one of the many things they love about you. So there’s that.

        Love the short spill on Rocket! What a throwback film! Thank you for sharing! And in keeping with my post. Perfectly so . .

        BH

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Amigo,

        Mayhaps. We’ll just leave it at that!

        Crazy is as crazy does. ahem.

        Not such a throwback… 2005 wasn’t THAT long ago was it? And glad it was in keeping…

        BW

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Amiga,

        By throwback I meant the feeling engendered by the flick. Those helmet-less players and the mask-less goalies . . JEEzus! And imagine that people dressed up to go to sporting events once!

        You crazy delight, you!

        BH

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Friend,

        Of course. Momentary brain fart there. The only thing now, I find, is that, because they are so protected, they are now even more violent. It’s not a sport of hockey anymore. IMHO. Yes, when peeps dressed up for all sorts of things. I miss those days. Well, not true. I actually do make an effort because. Just because.

        Right back at ya, BH
        xo

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Boss,

      The Steelers are indeed an anomaly. Three coaches in like what? Fifty years? They do things differently, indeed. Old school. And the Spurs have had Pops on the sideline for like twenty years . . which in NBA life is equivalent to 200 human years.

      The rest of it IS kinda like swimming with sharks, isn’t it?

      Thanks for the chime!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The hockey players seem like they actually don’t like the game some days. I’m like, why do you do this to yourselves? And the locker room interview should die. How many times can they say the goal (pun!) is to get the puck in the net whilst skating their hardest and they did/didn’t do that tonight. That goes for EVERY sport where every player says just about the same thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tara,

      Absofuckinglutelty to the abolition of the locker room/sideline/after game/during game/pre game interviews! They serve ZERO purpose. Coaches and players say the same damned things every single time! Enough already!

      Thank you for that, it is so true!

      Peace and tunes

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m a Met fan, not a sports fan. I like rooting for a team, but the whole concept of watching all these sports eludes me. But that being said, I am a tennis fan, but really because we all play in my family. I think it’s fun to watch a sport that you play

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LA,

      How dare you bring common sense and civility to a sports rant! And umm . . thank you for doing so.
      Mets fan in the house! Make way everyone! As a Yankees fan, I hope you don’t mind me saying I have had a soft spot for the team from Queens ever since mi Abuelito used to take me to games in Flushing. He was a Mets fan who spoke not a word of English. I was a a Yankees brat. And yet, we communicated just fine over the course of an afternoon.
      And so best of luck this season. They look good so far, and if they can evade the injury bug that has bitten them so many times . . methinks they have a chance to make some noise.
      And tennis! Yes! I play as well. Not very well, but I enjoy it immensely. One of my fondest sporting memories was taking in the U.S. Open in 2001. What fun that was!

      Thank you for the lovely comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you! As a Met fan, you’re either the worlds biggest optimist, or just stupid. I’m sticking with optimism…. but hears hoping our teams stay healthy!!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. LA,

        Oh it’s ALL about optimism. And let’s face it, the injury thing has been historically contagious for your team. From all the way back with those three young pitchers who ALL lost their careers or most of their best years to injury, to David Wright.
        And fun fact for you. Two of my favorite pitchers, like, ever, wore the other pinstripes. The old Doc Gooden when he was dealing for the Mets. His 1985 season where he went 24-4 was the most dominating I’ve ever seen from a pitcher. I took in a couple games and it was amazing to me that he even lost 4 games. And Noah Syndergard. Thor is just electric out there, I love watching him pitch. Hope he stays healthy too! And please, don’t tell my Bronx brethren about this . . .

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Your secret is safe for me. David wright. That just crushed me. And we’re down at least one catcher already…..but hope springs eternal!!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. As a dedicated sports fan, these commercials are becoming ridiculous during broadcasts and who the heck wants to chat up the stranger next to you at a live event. And as a true blue hockey fan, I’m with you on the teams in the southwest and below the Mason Dixon line. Cities that don’t have snow should not be allowed to filch all the great players in an expansion year. Yeah, I’m talking about VGK. Besides all that cheesy gold schlock is beyond disgusting. Looks more like DC and Mara Lago these days. Eew.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tails,

      Amen to that! There really should be a snow rule as per hockey rosters! It isn’t cool to have teams winning in Nashville while teams north of the border get bupkis. No bueno.
      And I thought the same thing of those horrible Knights sweaters. I heard the designed won a contest . . in middle school.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Movies about sports are more interesting than the current iteration of those sports played IRL. Sometimes it’s the simple matter of how you photograph a fake game versus televising a real game. The rest of the time, you…we get annoyed for all the reasons in your post and the movies eliminate that noise.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is a fascinating way of looking at it. I hadn’t thought of it that way. It’s like, a sports movie gives you all of the excitement and drama without all the current nonsense . .
      Thanks for the chime!

      Like

  7. I’m a sports fan, but not as big as I used to be. I seem to keep my eye on it without getting consumed. Of course rooting for a baseball that sucks does help pull away. In terms of football, the movie “Concussion” affected me – especially because I saw it in the afternoon before the vicious Bengals-Steelers playoff game of several years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wonder how much of an impact that movie really had. I remember reading the book and just being like “Whoa”. I mean, I KNEW about the concussion problem for sure. In fact, I’ve often railed on about how people never talk about the problem in the collegiate and high school ranks. It’s a shame.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This is so true Frank. They are a twelve months a year business. I mean, as soon as the Super Bowl ends, we’re already talking up free agency- which has become a very real thing in the NFL. And then we settle in on draft talk after that. The NFL draft has become a sporting event in itself. And when that’s done, we might have the slightest of lulls before camps open. And so it goes.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Whereas the NFL acts as one, MLB teams are independent business able to act as they please.

        Meanwhile – the Reds fire their manager … Bring in Sparky Anderson, Earl Weaver, and Walter Alston at the same time – but little would change because of the lack of talent.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Cincy,

        The Reds have been in rebuild mode for years now, with the slightest bit of light showing at the end of that tunnel. The drafts haven’t panned out just yet, and the comeback on those trades hasn’t been friendly. So unfortunately, I think you’re right about the amalgam of Hall of Fame skippers not being able to save this squad.

        So what happens next? They’ve traded away their box office appeal excepting for Votto, the farm ain’t looking very good, and the seats don’t need cleaning since they ain’t being used.

        Unless ownership is willing to hire away Epstein, I’m not sure where the upswing is happening.

        Yanno, it’s a sad state when the Browns look more promising going forward.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. This org is almost as sorry as the Browns … but hey – maybe the Browns are about to turn the corner.

        Remember Riverfront Stadium here? Well, during the stadium wars when both the Reds & Bengals were tugging on the public for new stadiums, I made this suggestion – let them both leave town, fill Riverfront with dirt, plant it full of flowers, and promote it as the world’s largest flower pot!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I actually find myself rooting for the Browns to turn the corner. This, despite the fact my team is technically no closer to winning a Super Bowl than they are . . and might soon be further away.
        I do think these teams hold their towns hostage. I hope the Reds stay in Cincy forever, but hey . . if they decide they want a new stadium in a few years the way the Braves did, tell ’em to pack their bags and leave the premises.

        The world’s largest flower pot! I dig (no pun intended). . .

        Liked by 1 person

      6. The city and the people ponied up a lot of money for the new digs for the Reds and Bengals. Some say the Bengals have the best stadium deal in the country.

        The public has had enough! A stadium deal for soccer has met a lot of resistance. Same for a new arena downtown (which happens to be privately owned).

        Liked by 1 person

      7. It’s just silly for towns to be held hostage any more, what with all the priorities they are faced with these days. Sports shouldn’t supersede them.
        And arena? For what?

        Liked by 1 person

      8. The arena here was built in the 1970s … actually got them a WHA team. Current tenant is an ECHL hockey team … plus serves as a concert stop. Currently privately owned … The NCAA awarded the city as a future site for March Madness – but with qualifiers.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. World Hockey Association merged with the NHL … (I think) two teams were left out of the merger … Cincy was one.

        NBA Cincy Royals with Oscar Robertson. Franchise came from Rochester … then left here for KC-Omaha … then just KC, which left for Sacramento.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. The Cincinnati Royals . . I dig that just fine. And they had the Big O to boot! Wowza . . if only it had kept.
        All I really know about the WHL is the gobbling up process that led to teams such as the Gretkzy led Oilers joining the NHL, and later dominating the league.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. 24 wins would get and NBA or NHL coach fired. But hey, the season is long and wacky and somewhere along the way they’re going to string a few W’s together. I don’t know this Reds team, other than Bailey and Votto, but they CAN’T be as awful as the 2003 Tigers who lost 119 games. Can they?

        Liked by 1 person

      12. The Red Sox looked unbeatable until the A’s slowed their roll with a no hitter and then took the series with a win yesterday. So yeah . . things happen during a long season.

        Like

      13. Alan Trammell was the skipper of that club, after which I believe they hired Leyland. Yeah, that’s really bad! If my math is correct, they averaged less than seven wins a month that season. Geesh!

        Liked by 1 person

      14. WHA . . I think I said WHL.
        Which is not to be confused with the WFL that produced a few NFL stars in its time as well. And it most certainly will not be confused with the NFL, AFL, CFL or AFL-CIO . . .

        Like

    2. As for my sports consumption, it has become like cable TV, movies and books. It is an interest, but I don’t go out of my way anymore to watch a game. Certain games, sure, but I can grab scores and info online mostly and be fine with it. And attending live games is still fun, but I don’t do it nearly as much as I used to, not at all.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Like many things in life, sports brought out the best in people, and we propped up the stars, kids looked up to them, and yes, there was a reason why we said, I want to be like Mike. Even he had his shortcomings, but beating women up wasn’t one of them. It’s hard to stomach something that was an escape and now is a mirror image of our own abused values and forgotten morals. Well done. I think that’s why so many people were taken with curling during the Winter Olympics. It reminded people what “the love of the game” really means.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, sports has become an extension of all the crap we see going on in the world now. There is no separation, it’s a part of it and is reported as such. There’s as much, if not more, fascination with the dirty laundry as there is with the games. And yes, curling was fun for that reason!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Gosh I relate to this post so much! Last year in particular, I drifted out of watching a lot of football, because it became too depressing and stopped being as much about the sport as about who the manager is (soon to be was) and other distracting factors. It doesn’t seem much better in the US (especially when you refer to some of the stories from the last year in NFL it sounds quite a lot worse). Anyway great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. By football you mean futbol . . . of course.

      And what IS the world coming to when the beautiful game becomes more about the current manager of a club and the latest gazillion dollar contract than about the pitch . . .
      And yes . . American football has some serious issues. Don’t get me wrong, it CAN be highly entertaining, when it’s not getting in its own way, lol.

      Liked by 1 person

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