Friday, November 2, 2007

When it was a game...

The title reminds me of a two-part HBO special from the 80's or 90's about the days of baseball's past. Mostly shot in black and white with real interviews and candid moments with some of the games greats, the special showed something that is seemingly gone from professional sports - the love and passion for playing the game.
Yes, I'm well-aware that there are plenty of professional athletes out there with all the drive in the world, but they are totally overshadowed by the self-absorbed and larger-than-life characters that we as a society have created. These people get paid millions of dollars to play and we treat them as gods. Curious. Perhaps that's why they are self-absorbed.
In the 1980s athletes began to get very large contracts and once it started, it just got worse and worse and team owners and sponsors competed with each other. In the past few years, some professional sports leagues have put salary caps on teams, but players still make absurd amounts of money while rarely showing the class that the ballplayers from days gone by, showed.
I'm not going to call any of these athletes out by name. We all know who thought he was bigger than the World Series. We all know current players who think they are bigger than basketball. Hell, we even know golfers that make so much money from sponsorship - due to demand from fans who watch and create ratings - that you'd think he'd appreciate his fans, but the reality is that sports in our country have been declining for decades and it's a sad commentary.
I could make more of an argument, or rant, if you will and delve into the world of "college athletics," but I don't think there is enough room on the page; however, on the note of "amateur" sports, it isn't too long ago that we watched the Olympics and saw a unique spectacle that only allowed amateur athletes. While that is mostly not the case by-in-large, there are still many events in the Olympics (winter and summer) where money is NOT an issue whatsoever and it is great to see the twinkle in the eyes of these athletes as they enter the stadium for the opening ceremonies. Their payday isn't a bid check, but rather a small flag embroidered on their uniform, a camera full of priceless pictures, and memories to last a lifetime. Some of the events may be obscure, but perhaps it is those sports where we find those athletes who truly embrace and remember, when it was a game!


rel=nofollowNatalie said...

Very well written. That whole fiasco of an announcement during the World Series was ridiculous! I have to say there are athlete's I like and respect. Like Jason Varitek, did you know for Halloween he sat in front of his house signing autographs for the trick-or-treaters? Imagine how cool that was to his young fans, certainly something they will remember for years to come.