Sept. 16, 2013
I seemed to have stepped on a land mine writing about my passion for the Pirates. In the opinion of some of my more hip readers I have either lost my direction, or senses, coming out of the closet about a team that is experiencing the thrill of not losing for the 21st season in a row, and the agony of soon being in the wild-card nonsense, division playoffs or World Series.
The very act of writing about a sports subject, I gather from the circulation figures, is turning my dedicated readers away in droves. That’s why under “subject” above, this non-blog is identified as “subject to be named later.”
I suspected there was difference of opinions amongst the intellectuals who read my letters. By “intellectuals” I mean those who can read without moving their lips, and those with IQ’s in the two figures, usually the higher ones, standards I had learned from my 35 years as the TV critic at Newsday.
The debate gets to the heart of an important issue in mass culture analysis: What do we make of lovers of sports in society today?
The nation can be divided into two groups. There are those who believe, as historian April Holder explained, “Sports haters are self-serious poopy heads (and were quite likely clumsy children).”
Au contraire, argues R. B. Bernstein, the Jefferson scholar and Adjunct Professor of Political Science and History, Skadden, Arps Program in Legal Studies, City College of New York, CUNY: “Sports haters are gentle, decent, peaceful souls who are sick and tired of being persecuted by self-righteous pompous, bloated sports fans who spend all their time as couch potatoes acquiring mass while belching their admiration for steroid-poisoned wackos.”
I am in a third group, having a more nuanced position.
Some of my best friends hate football, a subject especially timely with the premiere of “Monday Night Football” on ESPN tonight at 8:40 PM.
I, for one, have absolutely no interest in “Monday Night Football,” except on nights when the Pittsburgh Steelers are invited to play. The same thing can be said for “Sunday Night Football” and “Thursday Night Football,” “Saturday Night Football,” not to mention Sunday afternoon football on Fox and CBS and college football everywhere on the dial.
But I respect the right of people who may be mindless nincompoops and will watch anything with numbers on their backs as long as it moves to watch football 24-7.
Football is a very complex sport. “Every time I figure out which way they’re running, they change direction,” complains noted football-hater, Harriet Lesser.
It’s also difficult trying to remember the names of who is who or whom on which teams, like trying to remember the names of Chinese politicians being indicted.
That’s why all the players need to have college degrees.
And I deserve the right to write about football, as well as baseball, and the other sports of the people. It’s my dime, as we used to say back in the days before Ma Bell was broken up so the free market could give us lower prices.
It’s sad that so many of my sports-disadvantaged readers will not be thrilling tonight to the cry heard throughout the land, “Are you ready for some footbaaaalllll!”
But it is a free country. Everybody has his or her own Performance Enhancing Drug.
My preferred substance to abuse is the Pirates and baseball. I‘m warning my few remaining readers now that I am looking forward to the post-season. I know it’s going to be in the National League Championship Series Dodgers/Pirates, where Barry Bonds and Eric Gagne throw out the ceremonial first balls as a tribute to PEDs
In the meanwhile, by popular demand, I am planning to branch out into other popular sports of the people, such as mah jongg.