Write Again … It’s a matter of our valuesPublished 8:33pm Monday, February 24, 2014
Times change. Now, isn’t that an insightful, original thought? Sure.
Among the myriad changes that I’ve seen in my three quarters of a century journey are in the world of athletics. A trained sociologist could take this one slice of the American experience and really run with it.
Seeing things through the prism of one’s own personal experiences and observations is quite normal. As Camus said, “We do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.” Well said, Albert.
I digress. Where were we? Oh, yes. Athletics. Sports.
As a lad, prior to entering the world of organized sports, my love and enjoyment of being a part of sandlot, neighborhood, whatever it might be called, sports activities was beyond my ability to, as they say, adequately express.
The untold hours my friends and I spent playing sports, “organized and supervised” just by us, make up a strong and wonderful part of my childhood memories. There is no way that I can really convey how much of this we did through the years, and, how much we all loved it. It was — dare I say the much-overused word? — our “passion.” Yes. Pure passion.
The joy. The memories. The gratitude for those years.
Today? Well. Sports should be spelled $ports. That’s what it’s about.
Even in the collegiate ranks money is the driving force behind just about all of it. Chasing dollars. Trying to keep up with, be viable in the financial realm. A catch-22 if ever there was one. Prosper, or wither. TV is lord of all. And the kids today? Many of them don’t have high school or college players as their look-up-to sports heroes. No, sir. It’s the professional players. Especially the ones with the unbelievably high salaries and mega-bucks endorsement deals. Some with unsavory lifestyles.
Why, even our rec league teams, mites, midgets — the little fellows and girls — name their teams after the pro teams. For the older kids, the pros are their heroes. Some role models. Some heroes.
Do all professional athletes fit this mold? Of course not. But most impressionable young people don’t make the distinction.
Competitive athletics, which take place in environments of common sense, certainly have a place in our society. Self-discipline. Teamwork. Team before self. Learning to be a humble winner and gracious loser.
Learning, as Newbold wrote, “To love the game beyond the prize” is what it should be about.
APROPOS — “In America, it is sport that is the opiate of the masses.” — Russell Baker