I have probably watched 50 hours of college basketball the past couple of weeks. Love college hoops although they are bearing an uncanny resemblance to the pros--at the level of individual morals and rampant self-centered avarice (ego plus bucks--the era of individuals dealt with as a commodity: bought. sold, traded. Loyalty? A forgotten virtue by all sides). I wonder what the real dollar cost of college basketball and football programs really is. How about the message sent to all constituencies about institutional priorities?
Can't stand professional basketball games these days because of the players' outrageous commercialism and their inability to stay on the right side of the law--and often able to get away with it. [For examples see Melo and Kobe.] I could level the same accusations at pro football players, of course, but somehow my naive mind wants to accept the illusion that football (by its nature) draws a rougher, less disciplined, and minimally law-abiding cast of locker room warriors than basketball. My idealism combines with my cloudy memory to call up adolescent visions of basketball as a "true" sport played mostly by gentlemen (more like cricket vs. rugby, for example) and mostly for the love of the game.
I guess my thoughts are thoroughly tainted by vivid memories of those long humid afternoons (even after dark many nights) on Dundee Road when I shot baskets by myself, from a series of places just outside the foul circle, over and over, until I could "hit" regularly from specific points marked in chalk in a half circle on the asphalt. I used to pray that Adolph Rupp would drive by and spot my talent as I sank a 25 ft. one hander (no jump shots then). Of course, Rupp would offer me a full scholarship to play at UK and join the Fabulous Five (later, in keeping with today's game, that team was indicted and had its season suspended for throwing games). During practice hours I amused myself by delivering a mock radio announcer's coverage of my game: "Mark drives in, shoots a one hander from just outside the circle, and tickles the tassels for two!" The silent applause was deafening--at least in my ears.
Alas, since then the sports world has changed, even faster than I have. Lately, we're accustomed to watching millions of dollars in salary and benefits and bonuses be dealt out to professional "players" who seem very comfortable with conspicuous consumption of luxuries, the company of hot sleazy women, homes with 10,000+ square feet, and the worshipful plaudits of the masses who try to identify with their heroes by wearing their numbered jerseys and $100 "sneakers." All these appear to be more important to the "players" than enjoying the sport they are playing. (And I thought I'd seen it all when corporations paid people, mostly men, to fish from sleek fast boats and pull in as many big bass as possible to stuff in their coolers in a measured amount of time. Whatever happened to my old metal Shakespeare casting rod, my Pflueger reel (back-lashed every cast), and Heddon lures [remember the River Runt?]). Mom probably gave them away, along with hundreds of my comic books, when she and dad left the house I grew up in for a more commodious dwelling in Cherokee Gardens.
As a Bronco fan, for months I have been watching the NFL owners and players fight over how to split up proceeds measured in the billions, yes, billions of dollars. Civil discourse and backroom deals produced no results. Apparently, the issues will have to be adjudicated in the courts, and orchestrated by attorneys; accordingly, I have little hope of there being a pro football season 2011-2012. I hope I am wrong because I have come to love the game, especially as played by our Denver Broncos--where the excitement of the games is matched, often exceeded, by the off-field shenanigans of the owner, players, and coaches. I relish the high drama and will miss it if there is no season this year.
Yeah, and what will I do Monday night? Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights? BI guess I better re-subscribe to Book of the Month Club and Netflix. And put away my orange #15 Tim Tebow jersey with some mothballs until the new season begins, whenever that is.
A welcome to readers
As a resident of this planet for more than four fifths of a century, I have enjoyed both successes and disappointments in a wide variety of vocations, avocations, and life experiences. This blog satisfies my desire to share some thoughts and observations--trenchant and prosaic--with those who are searching for diversions which are interesting, poignant and occasionally funny. I also plan to share recommendations about good/great movies I've watched and books and articles which I've found particularly mind-opening, entertaining, instructive. In addition, I can't pass up the opportunity to reflect publicly on how I am experiencing the so-called Golden Years. Write anytime: