'This Sporting Life'


Sports? The only sport worth talking about these days is the sport of staving off Covid-19. We lose this game and that last second field goal attempt veering off to the right, the missed lay-up at the buzzer, or the controversial third strike will be but moot points.

Frankly, as a lifelong ‘fan-addict’ of the big three professional sporting events in this country, I can say unequivocally that I don’t miss a swing of the bat, the ubiquitous 3-pointer, or the potpourri of college and NFL lunacy that will no doubt try to thrust itself upon us this fall...virus be damned! Yet, this is a propitious moment to consider what we might be missing.

First of all, Major League Baseball has become a shadow of its once veritable self, boasting a bloated, conniving facsimile of ‘our national pastime.’ Instead, the sport is now a testament to home run happy owners, fans and acquiescing players. Games go on forever, as does the season. The big money has fostered an inherent alienation as witnessed by embarrassingly small crowds in all but the mega-markets while evincing a disproportionate distribution of talent...emblematic of the social inequality and dissonance that we all attest to in our subtle conspiratorial acceptance of the status quo.

As for the NBA...Strategy? What’s that? Play making has become an anachronism giving way to predictable bombing raids beyond the evermore forgiving 3-point line. Despite the equity built into the draft, a season’s outcome for the lower echelon teams is foretold from the first jump ball, and like baseball, it goes on and on...often way past our bedtime. The agonizing playoffs swallow the spring as chronic addicts like myself find themselves glued to their screens and apps in the hope that a ‘win’ will assuage the pain of the day.

Regarding football, well at least the college and NFL seasons are comparatively, and mercifully short. Nevertheless, they pound their way into the heart of the baseball season as early as August, and by the time of the Super Bowl they are bearing down on MLB’s spring training. The admirable intention of protecting the players’ health has contributed to making the game so over-regulated and subjective in its oversight that one never really knows if a play is a play, or if it will be stopped, scrutinized, taken to court, or simply ‘called back.’

Even without the replays and the officials spending the afternoon talking it over, the rules are so cumbersome and confusing that the interpreters in the booth don’t really know what is going on...try as they might to explain it to their hapless viewers. Really, I didn’t major in physics, but I am still trying to find out how ‘the ground’ can actually cause a fumble.

No, I don’t miss any of it. No longer do I need to wake up at two in the morning to boot up my phone, checking the scores to satisfy my craven compulsions for victory. I rest easy now, knowing the wisdom behind the old axiom that indeed, it is only a game...or at least, once was supposed to be.

© 2020 / Marc Twang


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