Taking Note of a Few Things: The Sporting Edition

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I don’t watch sports anymore. I follow them, but I have not watched a game since watching the Super Bowl last year. I swear, as I wrote the previous sentence, I had to stop to think about who won that game.

It’s not that I do not enjoy watching games as much as I no longer prioritize my life around the world of sports. Like everything else in this world, sports have changed over the years to the point where they mean less and less to me.

Everything changes, except men who get older. We seem to remain more set in our ways than women. I assume it is because we tend to not live as long as women or remain as social. They seem more capable of accepting change.

I’m not like my father who, until he was put in a home for Alzheimer patients, spent his days with his butt glued to his recliner in various states of consciousness with a ballgame on. Currently, I don’t own a recliner or a television. Even when I did as recently as a year ago, I just wasn’t watching sports.

Football is no longer the same because they keep making the game safer. As a result, there is less contact allowed which results in more missed tackles. As frustrating as that is, there are more dropped passes, players who need reminding to not line up off side, penalty flags to no end, and still more missed calls by officials.

Today’s football players have grown up under an era of Madden Football and fantasy leagues with their emphasis on stats over wins and individual performances over team success. No wonder you see players voice their unhappiness over their lack of chances despite their teams victories. It is to the point where it has filtered down from the professional ranks all the way to youth leagues. I don’t need that.

In fact, fantasy leagues have destroyed all team sports. Players have less respect for their coaches, coaches have less support from management, and fans are lightning fast to voice some of the most horrific vitriol imaginable on the internet over a game’s outcome. I guess this comes with the increase in money being wagered on games and individual performances. Fans seem to care more about the over/under than the actual outcome while taking a strong stance on why Pete Rose should be kept out of the Hall of Fame over betting while being clueless to him having kept under aged girlfriends while he was married.

As I have gotten older, I tend to appreciate individual performances more than following team outcomes. A great tennis match has just as much to offer today as it did 50 years ago. The same with boxing, track and field, even strongest man competitions. Why do we value a great individual from a team sport more than we value one from a sport that doesn’t allow the help from teammates?

A perfect example of what I find wrong with sports today involves LeBron James and his youngest son. As a sophomore attending a high school positioned with great players who are picked to win a state championship, he changes schools because he will receive more playing time. However, once he is told by the governing body, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), he has to miss the first half of the season because his transfer was optional and not mandatory because of a family move, he makes a U-turn to his original high school rather than sit out half a season.

When parents see LeBron doing this for his kid’s playing time, how many others are influenced? What happened to sitting on the bench and biding your time for when you earned the opportunity to start?

Lakers star LeBron James (Claudia Gestro)

I read something the other day about a player who waited along with his family to confront and beat up his head coach because they did not like a decision he made during a game that involved that player. I guess the head coach failed to realize the kid was the budding superstar everyone in the kid’s family so clearly realized.

My first head coaching job was coaching a 4th/5th grade youth baseball team my senior year of high school. My word was final and not once did any parent ever question it. Parents used to thank me after every game and the closest thing to an argument was which parent was going to win the honor of paying to buy ice cream for everyone at Baskin-Robbins.

I stopped coaching almost 20 years ago after my son finished playing flag football as a sixth grader. Even then, I had to hold a parent meeting at the start of the year and explain to parents their role. I made it clear everyone would play at least half of each game and that I was not going to place winning before fun. Kids were motivated by Tootsie Rolls and not worried about whether they would be selected to play travel ball, have a private coach they worked with three days a week, and be pressured into choosing one sport to focus on full-time.

When I was a kid, I knew professional wrestling was fake. Everyone knew it was fake. Even Vince McMahon admitted long ago it is fake.  Why then do all the major sports networks and websites cover it as a sport? It’s all a bunch of steroid injected and drug and alcohol fueled goons playing out a soap opera on televised and pay-per-view events.

I much preferred watching the show Battle Bots over most sporting events. Brain stimulated people creating a robot to place into a ring against another in a battle to the death was more real than wrestling, more humane than dog fighting, and more uncertain of the outcome than most games televised on the weekend.

It looks like two of my favorite teams, the San Francisco 49ers and the Boston Celtics, have great opportunities at winning world titles this season. I catch a few Niner highlights each week online and just scroll past the Celtic highlights. The games are different and I am indifferent. I will let younger generations enjoy all that they know about sports while I turn my attention to my new passion, painting.

Officiating is no worse today than it was when sports first relied on humans to enforce the rules of games. Just like players, they sometimes have bad games and other times have great games. However, they never get to go before the press and answer questions so the public only ends up with what a player, coach, or fan complains about.

Officials do not decide games when they enforce an infraction. When a player lines up offside late in a football game and the official calls it, the player, not the official, is the guilty party for deciding the game. If a professional football player does not know how to line up onside after four years of high school and college ball, then he is a detriment to the team. Had the official not made the call in the Chiefs recent loss, then he would have been guilty of deciding the game’s outcome.

Every sport has a list of rules for officials to enforce that are listed in a rule book, not a suggestion book.

Fans would be wiser if they focused more on their own behavior and not the behavior of players and officials. Today, you take your life into your hands attending any sporting event while wearing the colors of the visiting team.

In case you have not noticed, the songs I am adding to this column have nothing to do with sports. They’re just songs I happen to like. If you think I made a mistake, get over it.

I wonder how many crazed sports fans, the type who live and die by their teams’ successes and failures, are too busy following their teams to notice a narcissistic, law breaking, lying, racist sack of shit leads the presidential polls over someone who has quietly gone about his work and improved this nation.

Something I continue to appreciate is the great music of my youth. Seeing an artist who has been around for half a century still playing a song from the past like it is their latest release is a wonderful reminder that as we age, we do not lose all of our talent. Joe Montana may not be the great athlete he once was, but Neil Young can still kick ass when he performs his hits.

El Niño has yet to show up as expected this month, although rain is in the forecast this coming week. Today, I read a story claiming the likelihood of El Niño making the rounds is now less than fifty percent. Then I read another article where it is expected to be one of the biggest El Niños we’ve seen. Now I get why local news stations use a hot looking woman to deliver the weather. It doesn’t take any training to guess what sort of weather we might have, but it sure takes a lot of work to fit into some of the dresses they wear.

I am still waiting for the day when a local news station runs with a clueless well-built man to show off his body while delivering the weather. I thought this was a nation built on equality. Men are so hard up for sex that we crave the sexualization of female athletes. The only way to get fathers to attend their kids’ back-to-school night is if they hear one of their children has a hot looking teacher. Then they’re pissed when they find out moms were talking about a male.

When I was in college, it once rained for two weeks straight. When I say it rained, I mean it never stopped for two weeks. It rained so hard that not even me, Mr. Dedicated Runner, dared to challenge the elements. Then, as if a faucet was shut off in the heavens, it just stopped one afternoon and the first thing I did was go for a run. I don’t do well when I can’t get outside and be active.

I recently read a top 10 list of the best television shows ever. Other than Seinfeld, all were within the last twenty years and probably half were within the past ten. The fact Seinfeld was the only sitcom shows how little regard critics view the genre. Then again, most critics can’t be bothered with studying the history of sitcoms. If they did, they would place All In The Family on their top ten list.

All In The Family could never be made today despite its ability to educate its audience while making it laugh hysterically. Archie Bunker would never be allowed to utter a single “dingbat” without being canceled by today’s culture.

MASH also could never be made because of how it poked fun at the senselessness of war. Today’s shows have to make soldiers into superheroes who only do good when the reality is, there is a fine line between what is and is not acceptable on the battlefield. There is also a need to question authority when it results in the direct harm of young men for a cause worth questioning.

The 1970’s were the golden era for amazing sitcoms. Many of the shows still hold up on the humor end despite the plaid coats and bell bottom pants. Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart, The Jeffersons, WKRP In Cincinnati, and Sanford and Son all get forgotten primarily because of the fluff of one show, Happy Days.

There once was a time when network executives supported their programming over complaints. It’s impossible for today’s cancel culture to appreciate the concept of a network executive telling them to get lost. However, if a group took offense to a show in general or a particular episode, the general feeling of society was they should just change the channel, which more often than not required getting up from the couch and manually searching the three other channels.

The biggest difference today in television is it is now considered acceptable for major film stars to also star in television shows. You never would have seen John Wayne in Yellowstone. Television stars were mostly prevented from anything in the way of a film career. Film stars looked down on the art form of television.

I’d be willing to bet movie stars who bulk up for superhero rolls could not pass an NFL drug test. Are we really supposed to believe a movie star lived on nothing but tuna fish and chicken breasts for six months while working out three times a day with a personal trainer?

I also believe Oprah has done more harm than good to her female fan base with all the nutty diet plans she has touted over the decades.  All she has shown for it is what the harm from yoyo dieting does to people physically while adding to the guilt they feel about their weight.

Save the complaints. I know I am going to hell for the last song, but it was impossible for me to stop myself from using it. Impulse control was never a strength of mine.

As if enough of the world was already not happy with how Israel has conducted itself in their war to wipe out Hamas, they just added fuel to the fire by admitting they mistakenly killed three hostages holding white flags in Gaza because they thought they were terrorists. I don’t want to be accused of being an armchair general, but I think when your political and military leaders are making knee-jerk reactions, this is bound to happen. I guess they didn’t learn from George W Bush and his weapons of mass destruction.

Finally, if all goes well, my next Taking Notes column will be written from Chico. Have a wonderful Christmas and safe New Year. If life unfolds as it should, a year from now we will be fighting over who the next president is. In other words, it will be like 2020 minus the face masks.