Sunday, February 15, 2009

What I Miss About Sports

Magic Larry.jpgMaybe it's a generational tendency. Or a natural human emotion. Maybe it just means I'm getting older. Whatever the reason, and there may not be one, I often find myself reminiscing about the good old days of being a sports fan. My brothers and buddies and I have made it a sport unto itself. "Remember Kelly Tripuka? Loved that guy."

The practice isn't uncommon and certainly not limited to something as trivial as a grown men putting a leather ball into an iron hoop. (That's a Hoosiers reference, kids. You should re-watch Hoosiers.) My father speaks as fondly about cheeseburgers at Bunk's Drive In as a teenager in Bellingham Washington and Jack Kennedy as much as he waxes poetic about Muhammad Ali and Johnny Unitas.

The bear trap of the glory days continues to ensnare me, and she won't pry loose. I miss when sports were better. When they were magical.

I miss when steroids were a rare occurrence, limited to Lyle Alzado and the East German woman's swim team. Not the horrible plague that they are. I miss the innocence of the pre- Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa era in baseball when the numbers were sacred and real.

I miss when the layup-laden WNBA "highlights" did not get any airtime during Sportscenter. A finger-roll is not a highlight.

I miss when boxing was relevant. Not the beyond-broken mess that it is.

I miss when stadiums were revered cathedrals of sport, full of tradition and wonder. Not hideous monstrosities that cater to the rich and douchey who are only there for a social outing not the watch the game. (The new Yankee Stadium has a martini bar for crying in the night.)

I miss when we could watch sports on the telly without overbearing graphics that swooshed around the screen like crazed bats, were literally on fire and there was no dancing robots. I don't need dancing robots.

Speaking of dancing...

I miss when more stadiums had pipe organs than out-of-work-porn-star, sluttified "dance teams."

I miss when NBA players smoked opposing defenders, not the chronic.


I miss Converse Weapons, Walter Payton, Johnny Most and Chick Hearn, when families could go to the ballpark for less than the cost of a Volvo, "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler and Tommy "The Hitman" Hearns, Steve Largent, the "NBA on NBA" theme song, Tom Landry's hat, when no uniforms had the color teal in them, Bobby Hurley, Bo Jackson, The Boston Garden, Ozzie Smith, Ronnie Lott, ABC's "Wide World of Sports," Joe Dumars, Chris Mullin, Pat Summerall doing games with John Madden, when there wasn't much mention of the police blotter in the sports section and Steve Young.

I miss when I cared so much that when the Seahawks would lose, I would cry.

I miss when college bowls not only mattered and weren't determined in part by computers, but had cool names like the Gator Bowl, Freedom Bowl and Holiday Bowl, not the Poulan Weed Eater Bowl.

I miss when an athlete knew when to hang up the cleats and ride off into the sunset with dignity not embarrass themselves when they were way past their prime. Yep, looking at you MJ. And good riddance Brett Favre, please go away now.

Speaking of Michael Jordan...

When he was in his prime, I miss the excitement and lethal competiveness of #23, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. We'll never see the NBA as good as it was in the 80's and early 90's. Never.

I miss when winning mattered above all.

Do you remember that? When it was still a game?

Yeah, I miss that.

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