Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Demise of Sports

This is hardly news. Many people have recognized that sports went away a long time ago. That is recognizable by the difference between watching the football stars of the sixites score a touchdown as to today. Back then, the guy doing the scoring just dropped the ball and headed to the sideline. No dance, no piling on. Half the team was on the sidelines already. Today, you watch some fool prancing like an idiot before his team mates mob him even though they're still down by 21 points. It's also what you see when some doof makes a tackle and acts like he just won the Superbowl even though his team has three wins all year long. Three events this week have led to further aversion of sports for me.

One was the hiring by the Seattle Seahawks of Pete Carrol, after they fired their head coach after one year. Now perhaps I am missing some details here. But the Seahawks were in a losing season when they announced that their current coach, Mike Holmgren, was retiring. They also announced their next coach, Jim Mora, who would have to wait  a year to get to do that job. So Mr. Mora inherited a team that had a losing season. Towards the tail end of the first year of Mr. Mora's job, way down in sunny California, it seems that the situation at University of California, home of the vaunted Trojans, was a little dysfunctional. There seemed to be some improprieties concerning the treatment of some of the football players, which means that victories and bowl wins get stripped from their records, and the program loses scholarships and recruiting privileges, and basically gets a black eye that forces potential athletes to look elsewhere. And the coach during the time in question at USC? Pete Carrol. The same Pete Carrol that the Seattle Seahawks hired after firing Jim Mora after one season. The same Pete Carrol that led the '94 Jets to a 6-10 record. The same Pete Carrol that had a 27 and 21 record after three years with the Patriots. And the first year was his best year with 10 wins. It went downhill after that. So the Seahawks think that a coach with 5 years pro experience and a less than stellar record will save the day. As long as they can play the drama-savior scenario to separate fans from their money, they will. Serious rebuilding seems unnecessary. Fans are grumbling here in Seattle, and when talk of the possibility of Mr. Holmgren returning started trickling through the media pipes, then there was hope. Holmgren ended up in Cleveland, where there are "fewer layers" between President and owner of the team. Now we know why he turned down the Seattle job. So the grumbling in Seattle resumed. The team had record losses. So the management, whose job it is apparently to field better profits, decided that Mora was the problem. Now maybe there wasn't any chemistry between the players and coach. So be it if that's the case. One year though is hardly enough to develop a winning program. So Seattle will pop for the remaining years of Mora's contract which is reported to be about $12 million dollars. Nice layoff huh?

Another event that transpired was the pulling of a gun on a team mate by Gilbert Arenas, a pro player for the Washington Wizards. In a locker room altercation, or jest, he pulled a gun on a team mate. He had four of them on him apparently. For protection. Which I frankly find hard to believe. A guy paid what Arenas makes ($111 million dollar contract), doesn't drive a used car into the seedy parts of DC to go home after a game. He likely drives a very nice car, or someone else he pays to be his "posse," his "entourage," does. And he goes home to a very nice, well patrolled neighborhood of nice homes. Definitely no hookers and crack dealers hanging out there. At least one would think so. He has the money for it. So he gets caught pulling a gun. Says he's sorry to the public, met with law enforcement people, was criticized by civil rights leaders, all that. Claims he understood the gravity of the situation. And then, "It happened last week in Philadelphia. Every team has its pregame rituals: some chant, some dance, some box or high five. With his career and even his freedom hanging in the balance for a misadventure with guns, Arenas stood at the center of his team's huddle, made his hands into pistols, and pretended to shoot his teammates." Sounds like a real nyuk nyuk moment huh? So the NBA Commissioner suspended him. I think he should have outright ended his career. In Tennessee, four of their college basketball players were arrested, caught while drivbing around with not just pot, which is no biggie in my book, but also with fire arms. What I see happening is the transference of the thug mentality into the NBA. Instead of young men like these learning to make better decisions, and avoid those situatiuons where you need a weapon for protection, they seem  left to their own devices. And so what started as the donny brook that Indiana and Detroit got into a few years back, has now turned into brining guns into the stadiums. This from some of the richest people in the country, and again, who seem to lack that element of sportsmanship but indeed manifest much of the show boating and swagger.

The third incident involved my favorite sport. Mark McGuire, who famously, and unexplicably hit the single season home run record homer while all of TV land was watching and all sorts of celebrities were on hand, including Hank Aaron, admitted what everyone else already knew: that he used game enhancing drugs, which included during the season in which he broke Aaron's record. He came clean so he could land the job as the Cardinals hitting coach without baggage.

Will MLB pull his records? Will they strip him of anything? Demand that the Cardinals not hire him? Not likely. It will be up to people like me to contact these organizations and say we are done watching. This isn't about sports any more. It's about the money. Has been for years. For McGuire it was about developing stats for a fatter contract. For Pete Carrol it was about breaking the rules to make sure that he could field a winner and in the long run, retain his ability to get a fatter contract. It's why stadiums are now named after corporations. And for all three of these people, it shows that character, sportsmanship, plays a relatively small part in career choices. Breaking the rules, cheating, hey, no big deal.  Well, I'm not a fan of that any more. My money and my time will go elsewhere.

So I say good-bye.



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