It may be that I finally have become the grumpy old man (it doesn’t help that I idolize Joe Paterno), but given some recent past events, I think we are witnessing the destruction of what was once the wonder of sports. Honestly, I’m a middle-aged guy whose formative years were in the late 70′s and early 80′s when sports still held a mystique; when a larger-than-life sporting event was such on its own merits, not because some media monolith created it. Look at the things that have changed in the past few decades; it doesn’t take long to realize all of them either have had or will have a deleterious effect so profound that they cannot help but to destroy sports as we knew it.
The Rise of NASCAR
I don’t care what anybody says, NASCAR is not a sport. A while ago, I wrote a piece that offered a hard definition as to what constituted a “true” sport. While this definition was applied to Olympic events, one can easily measure any activity against these criteria:
- It must contain at least 1 element requiring true athleticism; it must not be only the mastery of a particular skill.
- It must require the athlete to actively expend the energy to perform that athleticism.
- It must contain the element of competition with an objective scoring method used to determine a winner.
NASCAR clearly can’t pass the first two criteria, therefore it isn’t a sport. Calling it a sport when it isn’t leads to this fascination we have with treating race car drivers as athletes. They aren’t. We knew that 30 years ago. If you remember the sports show “The Battle of the Superstars,” then you remember the weak performances turned in by the old-school race car drivers like Tom Sneva. Call me crazy, but calling a guy an “athlete” who can’t even ride a bike without wheezing like an old vacuum cleaner contributes to the reason why we have so many fat kids in this country.
Worse yet is the fact there is nothing more mind-numbing than four hours of watching cars drive in a circle. The people who would tell you there is strategy in NASCAR are on the same level as those people who think Texas Hold ‘Em is a game of pure skill. Want to know all you need to know about the strategy of NASCAR? Just remember the following three points:
- Go fast.
- Turn left.
- Try not to crash.
In other words, the rise of NASCAR represents the complete devaluation of what a sport is.
Records Are Now Meaningless
The NFL and Major League Baseball are clearly out to destroy their record books. The NFL, now that it is the most popular league in America is out for world domination. Not only are they looking to export the product to distant shores (see this Sunday’s 49er-Bronco tilt at London’s Wembley Stadium), but the league would really like to have an 18-game season. This means that every single-season record of note will be gone by 2016. For example, nobody remembers an all-time great like George Blanda, and soon no one will remember Dan Marino, who was the greatest pure passer ever. Look what the 16-game schedule did for us; it made a marginally-better-than-mediocre quarterback like Brett Favre the all-time passing leader.
If you doubt that, go look at Kerry Collins’ career stats. As of this writing, Collins needs only 847 passing yards to join the elite “40,000-yard club.” This club only has 11 members, out of which there are seven Hall-of-Famers; out of the four that aren’t (Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Drew Bledsoe, and Vinny Testaverde) you know at least two of those guys are flocks to be inducted. Seriously, Kerry Collins is in this class?
As for baseball, you can thank the butt-loaf sports writers for the devaluation of its record book. Before the strike in 1994, every writer in this country was pissing and moaning about the “plodding pace” of baseball. Then all of a sudden came the barrage of home runs and the obvious steroid use, which was completely ignored by those same writers until they decided they wanted to destroy Barry Bonds. The problem was that once the let the steroid genie out of the bottle, they couldn’t get it back in. Now they are crying about the stale nature of a game full of pitcher’s duels. The real problem is that every guy who breaks a record from now on will be suspected of being a performance-enhancing drug user, and the guy who competed clean during the “steroid era” will be discounted because of the tainted time in which he played.
We’ve Ruined The Best Sporting Event We Had
March Madness, also known as the NCAA Basketball Tournament, was the greatest sporting event ever until the NCAA decided that greed trumps quality. When the tournament went to the 64-team format, it achieved a symmetry and a convergence with the television coverage that next thing you know, everybody is filling out one of those brackets and running around the office saying things like “Purdue in the Final Four? Are you on drugs?” Now that the tournament is going to be expanded to 96 teams, gone are the days of upsets and “Cinderellas” in the first round. Now with this “let everybody in” expansion, our televisions screens come March will be full of crappy games matching crappy teams with crappy outcomes. Plus, now there is absolutely no reason at all to watch regular-season college basketball.
Just Because Racism Has Gone Underground Doesn’t Mean Its Gone
There are two kinds of racism left in the sports world. Gone are the days of the “straightforward” type, where people would tell you to your face they aren’t hiring you because you are black. As a black guy, I have to say I miss those days because at least you knew where you stood. Now what’s left is even more insidious.This is the part that is going to piss people off because to explain this means calling out both sides of the American racism spectrum. America is a country where disingenuous white liberals control the debate on race because they are disproportionately represented in the media and on college campuses; the same people who preach tolerance and understanding are the same ones who fire a guy like Juan Williams for raising a legitimate point of discussion and who won’t hire Turner Gill as a football coach because he has a white wife.
Take a good look at the picture above. While you are taking that look, ask yourself a question. Golfers are second only to NBA players in terms of being devotees of extra-marital activity. In other words, finding a golfer who is cheating on his wife is like finding sand in a bunker. This is why five years from now, this will all be a distant memory and Woods will be back to his endorsements and appearance fees. The real question is why did the same writers who made such a point of wringing their hands over steroids ignore Woods’ alleged steroid use and choose to focus on the complete non-story of Woods’ infidelity? I’m sure it isn’t because the majority of our sports media is comprised of those “tolerant” types who fire a guy like Juan Williams for raising a legitimate point of discussion and who won’t hire Turner Gill as a football coach because he has a white wife.
This leads us to the second type of racism left in the world, which is the type conjured up by black people whenever they don’t want to take the heat for something they did. This, of course leads us to LeBron James…
The NBA Is Two Steps Away From Being Pro Wrestling
…who is the classic example of a guy who paints everything with a racist brush just because he didn’t get his way. Pretty soon, guys like him will be calling referees racist for blowing calls.
I would like to thank you, LeBron James, for symbolizing the beginning of the end of what once was a great era in sports. Now thanks to you, we’ve started the slide to where the ACLU will be involved in instant replay reviews in all sports and basketball becomes just so much scripted sport-a-tainment. Seriously, the WWF was the only other place where you saw guys gang up to take on the likes of The Road Warriors. Pretty soon, LeBron will be smacking Kevin Durant with a metal folding chair and Chris Bosh will be decking Pao Gasol with a roll of quarters hidden in his tights.