Just Play the Game

There are some sports that are meant to be for pure entertainment, such as professional wrestling and roller derby. Even participants will agree that it is a show. On the other hand, there are sports that are meant to be competition with winners, and therefore, losers. Winners want to keep on winning and losers want to practice in order to get on the winning side. This is the nature of competition. Spectators once gathered to see who the best competitors were and root for their team. It was exciting and intense at times. College bowls were for the few teams that could qualify.

Things are changing. At the high school level and small college level there is still competition. Also at some major colleges there is still a sense of the game itself and competing to win. The excitement is still there in a team sport that focuses on “we” instead of “me” with a supporting cast. At the major college and professional level, with some exceptions, demonstrations, dances and silliness comes after a good play or touchdown. The adolescent mode kicks in and it resembles an elementary schoolyard more than a competitive game. Even with two of my favorite university teams, one my alma mater, the emphasis during the pre-game hype seems to be on what uniforms the players will wear this week. Maybe we should go back to real grass and leather helmets to find out what these men are made of. Even some college teams with losing seasons can still play in a bowl game, since some company with a product to sell will pay for it.

My interest in professional sports (with the exception of baseball), has decreased with the “show time” approach. As I’ve said before, I believe professional baseball players still respect their sport, making them the exception. I’m for the days of Jim Brown and Dick Butkus. I would love to see Bart Starr and Ray Nitschke on the field, playing on frozen turf. I want to see sod fly under real cleats. I must be a relic indeed. Yes, players got hurt, because it was a rough game. I once thought these sports were an integral part of the American scene, players we all wanted to be. Not anymore. If the current NFL is who we are, count me out.

 

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