No End In Sight

DJ Durkin

If it feels as if I’ve been bitching incessantly about the state of big time college sports lately, welp, it’s because I have been. And if you’re figuring on sticking a killjoy label on yours truly, Imma reply with the same line most of these big time coaches would feed you.

Don’t blame me.

D.J. Durkin is the latest big time coach to make headlines for all the wrong reasons. The Maryland Terrapins head coach is currently on paid administrative leave following allegations that he presided over a “toxic culture” in his brief tenure as field boss at the university. That’s a nuanced way of describing behavior that, in most any other profession, would have landed Durkin in a courtroom by now.

The “toxic culture” included coaching based on fear and intimidation. One of the ring leaders was strength and conditioning coach Rick Court- one of Durkin’s first hires back in 2015. According to sources, Court would target players he deemed ‘soft’, after which he verbally and in some cases, physically assaulted them. When they wanted a player to lose weight, they ordered him to watch his teammates work out while he was forced to eat candy bars. When they wanted another player to gain weight, they forced him to eat to the point of vomiting. One player was even chastised for passing out during a drill.

Durkin was hired less than three years ago for his supposed ability to lead young men. Jordan McNair-a red-shirt freshman- was one of those young men. The offensive lineman turned down an offer by the Alabama Crimson Tide because he wanted to play close to home. He was described as an extremely talented player who worked hard at getting better. A humble and friendly kid, he was nineteen years old.

Jordan McNair

On May 29th, McNair collapsed on a practice field at the University of Maryland. Evidence suggests that McNair was showing signs of heatstroke during 110-yard sprints, and that forty five minutes into the drills, he collapsed. This is when Coach Durkin and his staff were supposed to behave like leaders instead of gulag commanders. This is when they should have begun the process of cooling McNair’s body temperature down. This is when someone should have been calling 911. None of these things happened.

One hour passed before a call was made to 911. When McNair was admitted to a local hospital an hour and a half after collapsing on the practice field, his body temperature was recorded at 106. He was airlifted to a shock trauma center later that night. Less than a week later, McNair received a liver transplant. On June 13th, the humble, hard working kid with the big smile was dead.

At a press conference the day after McNair’s death, Coach Durkin said it wasn’t “reasonable that a nineteen year old should pass away,” while conveniently ignoring the fact that he and his coaching staff might have been the reason.

Durkin seemed initially receptive to changing up the culture of his program, but several players claim that it was business as usual once preseason camp opened earlier this month. And then last week, Durkin and several members of his staff were placed on paid administrative leave. Almost two months after failing a young man they had been entrusted with.

That it took two months to arrive here is pathetic. That Durkin and his staff will not be charged with a crime is incomprehensible. And that South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp defended the indefensible is beyond insulting.

Muschamp came to the defense of Durkin at a press conference recently in which he described his former assistant at Florida as being above reproach. In the world according to Will, we should be angry at all the “gutless” unnamed sources in the Maryland scandal and not scumbags like Durkin and Court.

Never once in that tirade did Muschamp mention Jordan McNair.

 

 

 

Winning and Misery: A Love Story

LaBron

What’s most interesting about LBJ going to the Lakers is that it simply feels like another vacation for the dude. He went to Miami for four years and then came home to Cleveland. Now he’s going to the other coast for another four years, and is there any doubt he resigns with the Cavaliers to finish out his career? Unless, that is, James plans on playing as long as Tom Brady- who plans on playing until he’s forty five . . . or until someone discovers that he is, in fact, a cyborg. Whichever comes first.

Personally, I’m thankful James didn’t drag “Decision 3” out . . because the World Cup is way more interesting news, even if most sports media here in the states ain’t shutting off the LBJ spigot till it runs dry. So we’ll get more devotionals to the King and more questions as to who might come join his posse. And make no mistake, he ain’t beating the Warriors unless he gets him some deputies . . not even close.

Hopefully all that baller business happens sooner than later, because I want me some open highway for the beautiful game of futbol. Unlike the NBA off-season gossip pages that James books passage on every four years, soccer’s four year itch is actually filled with live action; and if you ain’t been paying attention to this particular World Cup, I am sorry.

I ain’t throwing shade at us state side simpletons for possessing a drive-thru attention span when it comes to sports. After all, we are what we eat. And most sports outlets behave like hired lemmings in that they follow one story after the next over the cliff, regardless of its verity or relevance.

I hope LaBron 2K works if only because I still root for Magic Johnson, even now. And because the Lakers haven’t been likable since forever. And because I believes James paid his debt in full to Cleveland when he brought them a title. Let’s please not inject ‘loyalty’ into this when it comes to a free agent athlete choosing his work place. Owners and front office peeps don’t make bank based on being loyal, and neither should the players.

I can see the way James is playing this thing. He figures his great white whale- the Warriors- stands in the way of his title legacy either way; so by moving into their conference, he doesn’t have to worry about losing to them in the finals again. Plus, his presence puts LA in ‘win now’ mode, which means that Magic will do everything in his power to get his new stud a second, and maybe even third star. If that happens, LBJ doesn’t believe Boston, or any other team in the East, can beat him so long as he gets past Golden State.

This is a Michael Corleone move for James. He’s moving the family out West while he still has the clout whilst looking at laying down a monolithic paradigm for next gen superstars. James has always been a vocal presence and a civic minded individual, so what better spot to lay down his ascension to future NBA owner than in the land where power brokers play?

In the present, all James has to do is resurrect some agreeable facsimile of the Showtime Lakers- a team that was born inside my favorite decade- the ’80’s. Unless of course he gets his sidekicks. Because in that case . . expectations go bling.

Showtime Lakers

The Showtime Lakers were Magic and Kareem, James Worthy and Byron Scott and lemme put it this way: If Cirque du Soleil was a basketball team? They would’ve been the Showtime Lakers. And while I patterned my set shot after Worthy, he wasn’t the reason I slicked back my hair. Pat Riley was the coolest cat in the room and I fell in love with the way he coached up a starting five. Riles was style and substance. With his Armani suits and slicked back hair, he was the living breathing embodiment of a Hollywood ad campaign.

And those Lakers teams led by Riley are the reason I fell in love with the Association in the first place. They were a mythological advancement for a league they had helped save- along with the Boston Celtics- years earlier. Pat Riley put it best when he said it was an all or nothing proposition when you play for a star laden Lakers club. “There’s winning and there’s misery,”. All or nothing. Hang a title banner or get out of town. I’m thinking if Riley were to offer any advice to LeBron in the event he builds an LA ‘superteam’, it would be short and sweet.

You better fucking win it.

If Game of Thrones had a baby with the Super Bowl . . it’d be the World Cup

Soccer Players Cover Balls

In case you haven’t noticed, soccer is hosting their quadrennial beer garden party with soccer matches included in the price of admission. And it’s really a pretty big deal, unless you’re an American.

This year’s host of the FIFA World Cup is Russia . . because of fucking course they are. And contrary to popular belief, the Trump administration did not reward the games to the country formerly known as the USSR for helping out in the 2016 general election. Nope, Russia won the rights to host the Cup games the old fashioned way . . they bribed enough peeps.

For those of you who ain’t down with soccer, the World Cup includes 32 teams who will compete in a month long tournament for bragging rights to the entire world. So even if your country really sucks in every other way, no worries . . winning the World Cup will make up for it. Yay sports!

And so far so awesome as England survived a scare from Tunisia to win their opening match . . Brazil made history by not winning their opening match (they tied) for the first time ever . . and Cup favorite Germany lost their opener to Mexico; immediately after which, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called President Trump and offered to help pay for the wall.

In honor of the beautiful game, I’ve come up with 18 reasons why the World Cup is the greatest show on earth. And yes, I chose the number eighteen because of the year. And yes, I really am that simple.

1. The word ‘Nil’ will become a thing- At least for the next month . . .

2. No stupid drinking games- Unlike other sports, soccer fans do not concern themselves with waiting to imbibe until someone scores. These stupid drinking games don’t translate to a sport where the average final score is 1-0. Turns out, this is a very good thing, because soccer fans don’t have time to wait when drinking copious amounts of alcohol before, during and after the game is so much more fun!

Futbol Drinking

3. No LeBron talk- Lebron isn’t going to be taking his talents to the US soccer team this summer. You know why? Because the US soccer team, inexplicably, didn’t qualify for World Cup play! As an American soccer fan, I’m miffed. As a soccer fan in general, I am perversely satisfied with this result. The women rock USA soccer, but the men’s side has been marginally successful at best and quite arrogant in spite of it. So yeah . . . go Italy! Oh wait . . shit, they didn’t qualify either?

4. No appearances by the Patriots, Cavs or Warriors.

5. Futbol stadiums feel bigger- Not sure why, since essentially they hold as many fans as American football. Maybe it’s the diversity of the chants . . maybe it’s the flags or the fan attire. And maybe it’s because a single World Cup game has more ramifications than the Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup and NBA finals put together.

Soccer Stadium

6. Soccer Announcers Rule- Tune in and you’ll see. They know their stuff, they give it to you straight and they don’t have inane nicknames for every player. Unlike too many announcers here at home, soccer voices report the actual game. How novel . . .

7. Brazil is in it- They are the kings of the sport, and it’s always better when the best team- at least historically- makes the scene. Add to this the fact that those Brazilian chicas in the stands are pleasant to the eyes.

8. We ain’t talking about Trump. Or player protests. Or Trump. Or fan protests. Or Trump.

You get a goal

9. ESPN can’t fuck it up- Oh . . they will try. But it’s not happening.

10. It’s easy to keep score- This isn’t a cheap shot, it’s a great selling point.

11. Every score and every scoring opportunity matters- Which is why number 10 is such a great selling point. Because after watching the Cavs and Dubs hoist hundreds of three point shots, it’s nice to settle in with a game where one goal is bigger than all those three pointers.

Zero

12. Commercials . . . what commercials?

13. Forget fan bases, three countries have caught World Cup fever- Peru and Egypt are making their first World Cup appearances in a long time while Panama is taking the stage for the first time ever. Those three countries alone will have more than one hundred and twenty five million fans tuning in. Which is why soccer is the world’s game.

In honor of the 2026 World Cup which will be hosted by Mexico, Canada and the United States, Quebec-ish resident Dale Rogerson of A Dalectable Life has decided to forego her two cents and add a loonie. Little does she know Imma pay her in American beer.

Another reason: Best actors EVER! An almost hit, a roll, a cry in agony, convulsions and here come the medics! Followed by a hop, skip and a jump, if not a swagger back to the game. Oh I know there are some real injuries that happen… you can tell it’s real because they barely move… 😉

14. Goalkeepers- The coolest position in all of sports also happens to be the most stressful. Think about it, one missed save or one made save could be the difference between being champ or chump. And yet, they have the most beautiful hair! It’s not fair . . .

Soccer Goals

15. Legit World Champions- When the Eagles call themselves ‘World Champions’, they mean American champions. Their soccer counterparts can say World Champions and really mean it.

16. The trophy is a work of art- I would argue the Stanley Cup wins most outstanding trophy ever made, but the World Cup trophy is no joke. It looks like a sculpture you’d find in an art museum. A piece created by some obscure nineteenth century artist who was blind and dying of syphilis. But hey . . it’s still a work of art!

17. It’s unique- The Olympics- summer and winter- alternate every two years. No sporting event makes us wait this long, and yet . . is always worth it.

world cup trophy

18. No fucking piece of shit expansion clubs- The way it should be!

Bonus Reason: When a soccer match ‘ends’ . . it really doesn’t end. I’m not speaking David Lynch here, it’s true. It’s called ‘Stoppage Time’ and it adds time to the clock at the end of regulation for the non-soccer related business that happens during the course of a game (Injuries, substitutions, playing with your balls). A handful of minutes are added to the clock to make up for that lost time. Which makes soccer the only sport that has a clock it can literally put on snooze.

Even us Americans can appreciate that kind of genius.

Breaking the News, Beyond Repair

I wasn’t feeling a full throttle post this morning so I decided to put together a list of news items from the week that was with a YouTube video that came to mind. It ain’t Meet the Press but whatevs. That show jumped the shark years ago . . .

Trump dis-invites the Eagles- He stuck out his tongue, took his ball and went home. And I can’t even broach this topic without adding my gusto, so I’ll just say this . . for now. Both sides are wrong. The Eagles for not showing up, being above all the shit being thrown at them and attempting dialogue. And Trump . . for being Trump. The lone voice of reason in this childish back and forth was Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins who pulled a genius Bob Dylan act this week. MJ reminded everyone as to the genesis of these peaceful protests. We need more adults like him in the room.

 

Andrew Lincoln Bids Adieu to the ‘Dead’- I was feeling a breakup coming on with the Walking Dead anyway. What with Glen and Carl gone, the future looked bleaker than Melania’s Saturday nights. I held on thanks to Negan and Carol, and to see how Rick was going to take out his baseball wielding nemesis. But the truth of the matter is, this show has made an art out of doing just enough to keep us holding on. It might go on forever, as the creators have promised (warned) their fans, but I can’t help thinking five or six seasons of Holy Fucking Shit! would’ve been preferable to this. So next year will be my last as a fan. I’ll miss Carol and I’ll miss the music . . but I just can’t do this any more.

Kevin Durant is the best player in the NBA- For one night anyways. I caught the tail end of the Dubs Game 3 win and I’m not gonna lie. KD made me love him all over again with a 43 point hit job on the Cavs that effectively sends the Association into its summer business. Durant will always be my favorite inside this latest gen of players, but lately he’d become a bit of a dick. But his game ain’t care about any of that, and when he rolls the way he did on Wednesday night? He kidnaps my baller loving heart. His three point dagger with a minute left . . . should be set to Opera, and taught in schools and revered forever after. Yeah I’m adding a shit ton of hyperbole to his masterpiece, but that’s what certain players can do to me. KD is top of my list, still.

 

Walmart has a wine label– Yeah, no. Okay . . . maybe.

 

Baseball Fan o’ the Week!- W.P. Kinsella would bemoan the dearth of romance in today’s game. Gone are such quaint notions as the hit and run, sacrifice bunts and complete game shutouts. So big thank you to this baseball fan for bringing some old school back to the equation.

The last bit of news, worst. As I learned this morning that Anthony Bourdain took his own life at the age of 61 in Paris.  I was never a fan of the dude, once saying that ‘only women can deal with this guy’, which was really all he needed. Other than peace of mind, which he was never able to truly achieve. And it’s a sad fucking thing when the world loses interesting people. And I can’t think on this for very long or it just gets dark. So Imma end this with something hopeful, because the day asks for it. Every day, in fact.

Peace, love, happiness . . and Joy.

Giving reality a sporting chance

The following is not a sports post, but rather a rant on why sports should never be confused with reality. So if you like sports, read on. And if you really don’t give a shit about sports in the least, by all means leave a comment after you read on.

This isn’t to say that sports doesn’t have its place, because it does. Its just that, we should partake much like we would a really well done cocktail. Enjoy it sensibly, do not overindulge, and never take it too seriously.

A few examples? Why not . . .

Shocking the World- If your co-worker starts blathering on about his need to shock the world, you call security. But athletes do it all the time. With the ever expanding tentacles of social media, it has become the white noise equivalent of a crying baby in a department store. Athletes tend to mistake a few fan bases and media members for the world, when really . . they comprise maybe one tenth of one percent of the world’s population. And I’m being generous. The truth is, the world has much more important shit to attend to. Like death, taxes and who’s gonna win The Voice. 

Child’s Play- These are men playing a children’s game, and that’s a beautiful thing. Except for those times when the men behave like children. Like Russell Westbrook does, lots. Westbrook is the point guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder and he is one of the most dynamic players in the game. when he’s not acting like a first grader. In real life, you get fired for shit like this. In sports, you’re a competitor. I single out this player not because I despise him, but rather, because he is one of the few players in any sport I would pay to see. So when he behaves like a child, it pisses me off. Just play the game, man!

A safe haven for crybabies- In the real world, when you lose . . you just lose. But in sports, fans don’t go for such realities. In sports, a fan base will rail on about being cheated out of a win. Every loss is a conspiratorial scenario in which the referees are on the take, the commissioner is orchestrating the outcomes and the league is in bed with the Russians. Your team never loses, it simply gets cheated out of the win . . always.

Have a stupid argument? Be a sports fan!- When the Yankees lost Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, a Mets fan I know actually said the Yankees were not a great organization. Why? Because they weren’t great in Game 7’s. This was never minding all those world titles. This was ignoring the fact that the more times you try at something, the more times you will in fact, fail. You ain’t gonna win every time. The Yankees have failed scores of times, because they’ve been there more than anyone else. Simple math.

Teams Buy Titles- Only in sports can such an argument gain traction. Can you imagine saying “Shit, Apple spends WAY too much on R&D . . it’s no fair, they’re buying their success!”. I mean, you can say it . . and you can be laughed out of the room. Believe it or not, spending money on the product in order to be competitive is not a crime. The Yankees have always played the villain when it comes to this argument, and for good reason. Their owners have always aspired to give their fan base a winner. The nerve of those owners! But really, what’s worse? Putting money into the product, or pocketing the fans hard earned money and doing bupkis? This is why sports arguments are ass backwards. And one more thing. All those fan bases that derided the Yankees for spending ridiculous amounts of money on their club? Are plenty fine when it’s their team spending big. Funny how that works.

Hot Takes- Pretentious, isn’t it?

Get Out of Jail Free Cards- That’s what a ticket to a sporting event is, most of the time. If you stand inside a department store screaming all manner of bad shit about the manager and throwing merchandise at the patrons, you just might score a free ride in the back of a police cruiser. But sporting events are different. Not sure why they’re different, but they are.

I could go on but you get the point. Sports has its place, and that place should be a small one. Problem is, sports has become much too prevalent a place for most of us. We should be sipping, not gulping. We shouldn’t be more familiar with the stats line for our favorite players than who our elected representatives are. That’s bread and circuses shit, and it’s indicative of a nation that prioritizes gladiator games over real life business.

Rome burned for such a thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Skipping White House Visits- I’m sorry, but if you’re going to speak about social progress, you best put your mouth where all the money is. Skipping a White House visit because you don’t agree with the occupant is weak shit. Especially when you’re a high profile athlete with a platform, whose voice can be heard more resoundingly than the average dude. Which is why I was happy to hear that the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles are negotiating the terms of a visit. Stand face to face and go toe to toe! Do not forsake the opportunity most of us only wish we could have to voice our issues with the current President.

 

 

Turns out, my lost mojo was on ice

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Okay . . maybe it wasn’t lost after all. But admittedly, it has waned over the last few weeks. Blame it on the weather or James Comey’s new tome, but whatever it was . . it was getting to me.

One of the drawbacks to being a passionate individual is that the ebbs that switch out with the flows can be a real bastard. Add to this my inability to budget my thoughts into some neat and tidy semblance of organization . . . because when I preoccupy myself with something, I tend to never mind certain matters that . . yanno, need tending to. So needless to say, there’s a better and worse to this passionate side.

Both of which came out to play yesterday afternoon when I took in a Stars on Ice show in Hershey, Pennsylvania. If you’ve never been to an ice show, I highly recommend it. There are few endeavors that are able to marry sports to entertainment the way an ice show can. It’s like theater met a sporting event and they had this magnificent baby of a performance.

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The downfall of my passionate ways is that I tend to jump before thinking, and this can be problematic. So there I was, driving up to Hershey in the early afternoon when it finally occurred to me that “Hey . . isn’t it a little early? What time DOES this thing start?” to which she replied 7:30. Some quick math had me replying with “No seriously . . .” 

Seems we were taking in the whole shebang. From practice skates right up to showtime. Yes, I had bought the tickets. Yes, I had made plans for me to meet up with my sister and niece at the doors at 3 pm. And yes . . I am that oblivious. 

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After subjecting my daughter to a litany of questions, which began with “What am I supposed to do for the rest of the afternoon while you guys watch them practice?” and moved into deeper questions regarding life, mortality and beer concession possibilities . . I eventually figured out my shit once I got there.

The girls enjoyed watching the skaters go through their practice routines in front of the small audience, while I lapped the arena concourses to get in my steps whilst making phone calls and texting friends. I even met some of the skaters during a meet and greet later on. So you can say my oblivious nature could’ve done worse.

When the gates opened for the general public at 6:30, my daughter and I constructed our concession strategies. The stand alone beer concession stands were closed tighter than a drum, and this was an unnerving development for yours truly. The food concessions? Still prepping.

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This lag time, combined with a giddily excited crowd whose average age is what keeps Taylor Swift in business, resulted in the formation of lines. To everything. My allergic reaction to lines compelled me to find something to do that didn’t involve a line. The men’s restroom was a natural conclusion, seeing as how the female to male ratio was somewhere around 85-15 and there was no waiting involved. Try that at a hockey game . . .

Thirty five seconds later, the lines had grown exponentially. The concessions were still ‘prepping’ so now I had to make the decision as to which line I wanted to join, seeing as how my first, second and third choices- beer only concessions- were apparently unavailable for this performance.

If there is such a thing as hell, I gotta believe it involves waiting in lines. I hate waiting in lines. I hate it so much that if Vera Farmiga was the hostess of a kissing booth and the line was absurdly long, I’d probably ditch the idea. That’s how much I hate waiting in lines. 

The concession line I chose was straight out of Dante’s diary. But they had beer, so there’s that. While my daughter went in search of a nacho stand, I observed the staff. There were like . . a dozen peeps, most of whom were just happy to be there. I don’t like throwing shade at anyone who works with the public, but a hint of urgency wouldn’t have killed them is all I’m saying. The highlight of my fortnight in this line came when a woman old enough to be my grandmother grabbed my ass, twice. She was very nice about it, apologizing both times. I texted Linds B, who exhorted me to knock her out. It wasn’t the worst advice, considering that security personnel would’ve expedited my wait.

I returned to the seats just in time for the opening, after which I had to summon my inner contortionist in order to navigate into my seat. After which I realized that my freedom of movement had been stolen from me. I had my adult beverage, my braided pretzel and my Italian sausage, and that would have to sustain me until the show was over.

So really . . it’s a good thing the show kicked ass. From the get, this thing was a blazing blossom of boom. The entire cast got the crowd jumping to Pink’s Raise Your Glass. And lemme tell you . . there are few connections quite as simple and sweet as the connection between ice skaters and their adoring fans. It’s as if the seats are plugged in to the skater’s every move, and it never wanes. The visceral plunge is an everlasting possession, retrieved from the cradle of simple dreams gone Broadway.

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When Jason Brown jumped the place into a mercury risen froth as he skated to Hamilton’s “The Room Where it Happens” . . well, I was every bit as invested as I would’ve been with a Giancarlo Stanton at bat. If you want to know what it means to own a room, look up Jason Brown because the kid was doing it.

A top five  of my favorite Ice moments for the sake of brevity? Okie . . .

5- Anything Jason Brown. The kid is Mike Trout in skates. You stop what you’re doing when he takes the ice, because you know that when God was divvying up talent? He went overtime with Jason Brown.

4- Adam Rippon is a live wire proposition who instigates the crowd into a madness unparalleled. His skate to Adele’s “Remedy” was stronger than a ninety proof selection on a cold night. And the payback just as strong.

3- Maia and Alex Shibutani, aside from being such a lovely couple, are the definition of kismet. They light a fire to the ice, after which they sculpt a starry eyed union into your memory banks. They translate Frank Sinatra for teenagers, and Jay-Z for the old folks with the very same magic. And since it’s my top five list, Imma tuck Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue into this as well. Because their Q and A before the show was endearing, and because they shook it loose to a Rag ‘n Bone/ Beth Hart ditty that left me crushing on their love affair.

2- The boys, led by Olympian Nathan Chen, introduced me to a new song in the very best way. Admittedly, I’d never heard Portugal. The Man until yesterday afternoon during the practice skates. But by the time they cranked it in prime time, I was sold. What a way to discover a song!

1- When Bradie Tennell finished up her evening with a Patrick Doyle score from “Cinderella”, she had thrown a perfecto. Because from the practice skates to the performance, she nailed it. All of it. She is the Queen of the Triple Axle, for good reason. And believe me when I tell you I ain’t serving up no hype jam on this. Because the truth is, I teared up while watching her nail every landing. She got to me, as if I was listening to opera and chasing it with red wine. A performance that leaves you overcome with emotion, well . . you cannot put a price on that kind of thing.

When you see these kids making it happen in the Olympics and the World Championships . . you don’t often get a peek at how that kind of perfection came to be. Because it’s happening inside the quiet hours, where twisted ankles and countless spills are heaping doubt on those dreams of a roaring crowd.

To think, if I had been a little less oblivious yesterday, I wouldn’t have been reminded of all that. And so, it’s why I love my passionate side. Because even when it fails me so, it leaves me somewhere better in the doing.

I’m good with that.

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.