In this case, it is about me and my thoughts about sports and how they have changed in my lifetime. As you can see by the picture above, my Dad put a bat and ball in my hands at a young age purely for fun. He had no expectations that I would grow up to be a major league player. He would, however, spend hours throwing grounders to my brother, sister, and me in the backyard. He used a rubber ball so that we wouldn’t get hurt and it would jump all over the place and could be difficult to field.
I was a very shy young boy. I remember my parents calling me into our kitchen one day and talking to me about joining Little League baseball. I didn’t want to play but my parents were persistent. I found myself at try outs a few weeks later and eventually got a call that, as a 10 year old, I had been put in the “majors.” The team was sponsored by the local VFW.
When I went to school and found that most of my friends, including a very good pitcher named Kevin McNevin was in the minors I was too naïve to know what had happened. As it turned out, I didn’t get much playing time in the majors and it would have been better if I had played in the minors.
At the same time, being on the team with kids from other schools helped me with my shyness. In my first at bat in the majors, I flew out to left field just 10 feet short of the fence. I didn’t hit homeruns as my little league years progressed but I had a pretty good batting average. The coach started me in center field and by my second year I was a fixture at shortstop.
I spent most of the rest of my baseball years playing shortstop. Baseball was the sport in California in those days and we world practice many evenings at the nearby school. My Mom worked in the “snack shack” selling taquitos and other yummies for each of her boys. I loved everything about the game and particularly my position. I was leadoff hitter a lot of the time which meant my job was to get on base any way I knew how. As shortstop, I had many responsibilities: covering second if someone tried to steal, taking cutoff throws, and taking the majority of the grounders in the infield. We had a good team one year. I think we had four all stars and yet we couldn’t beat the team with the Toothman brothers and Kevin McNevin. I don’t think they ever lost because their pitching was so good.So what does this have to do with sports today and the Superbowl? As a kid I watched all kinds of sports. I particularly liked the Olympics as I grew older. I watched many of the Superbowls, but lately my interest in most professional sports has diminished. I think I watched 2 college games this year. The last several years, my family has watched the Superbowl for the commercials. I’ve really not been that interested in the games. I enjoy watching high school games more than any other level. Having not attending many games, I’ve never seen a fight at a high school, football, basketball, or baseball game.
It seems like there are more problems in sports than ever. There have always been problems, but as a kid I heard many interviews with players who were very humble. It’s always nice to still see an acknowledgement to God after someone scores a touchdown, makes a basket, or hits a home run. At the same time, the cheating has never been worse. So many popular sports have had issues with performance enhancing drugs. I think we only know the tip of the iceberg. HERE IS A POST about a recent Olympics and the strange opening. It seems that each is stranger than the last.
There is nothing wrong with allowing your kids to play sports. So many of the parents and coaches are, and have always been, way too serious IMO. I was able to tune it out when I was playing, but it bothers me more for some reason now. There are still some very good coaches out there, but I’m tired of seeing a college coach swear at his players until they are blue in the face. Where have the John Woodens gone?
One example of the recent scandals involving a coach was the dismissal of the University of Arkansas Football Coach in the spring of 2012 for having an “inappropriate relationship” with a female employee. Who was the highest paid state employee at the time? It wasn’t a great doctor, or teacher, or farmer, or entrepreneur, or inventor. It was the coach. I know the University brings in millions through its Football program. It doesn’t mean the coach should make millions. These facts show that in many of our sports today our priorities are in the wrong place. “It’s all about winning, baby.” There is nothing wrong with wanting to win. However, in today’s society, some will do anything to come out on top.
Are you going to watch the Superbowl? I only hope that the game is as good as this year’s college championship game. If it is on at my house, it will get turned off during the halftime “show.” It was off at halftime a few years ago when there was some sort of clothing “malfunction.” To be honest, I probably will not watch it. I would rather think of the days when I was a kid. When I heard Jerry West sink a half court+ shot with a few seconds left to win the game, I couldn’t celebrate aloud because I was listening to the transistor radio under my pillow and everyone else was asleep. I fell asleep listening to Vince Scully’s excellent “voice of the Dodgers” on many occasions. There are still some very good stories in sports. At the same time, I never heard the word “steroids” until I was a teenager. I’d rather remember the sounds of the fans, the smell of the taquitos and nachos, the look of the uniforms paid for by local sponsors, the feeling of removing the pebbles “on my turf” so that I wouldn’t get the dreaded “bad hop,” and the friendships I made as a youth.
Check out Dr. Ben Carson’s statement around 13:45-15:30. He seems to agree with what I’ve stated above.