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» One Touch Football - Archive » Sport » Sports are sort of crap, aren't they? (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Sports are sort of crap, aren't they?
Reed
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I'm going through an ebb in my overall enjoyment of watching sports lately. But this time, it might be somewhat permanent.

I'm overcome with the feeling that it's all getting worse and that it was "better in the old days." That is what has prompted me to become obsessed with finding any and all old footage that I can (see other thread).

It's not just that all of my favorite teams are aggrevating me, although there is that. Maybe it's just that I'm getting old. Or that I'm too troubled by other things to care about something that is ultimately inconsequential.

It's not just the money, the ticket prices, the steroids, the crappy phoney in-arena atmosphere, although there is all of that. It's just the whole sporting culture seems on a terminal track into greater and greater stupidity, greed and nonfunness.

I'm generally concerned about how the professional mentality is creeping lower and lower on the ladder and younger and younger. When I watch sports on TV I try to not think about the fact that the people I'm watching have devoted their whole lives to this since they were eight and have been given all sorts of favors and free passes in life because of their talent and that most of them are probably not very interesting people as a result of devoting most of their lives to just this one thing.

The old days were worse in most ways, but reading about the early days of hockey, baseball and gridiron, for example, it seems like most of the players in ye old days played five sports and worked in a steel mill while going to school and then continued to work in the steel mill in the off-season and/or studying to become a doctor or something useful. Not all of the old athletes were like that, but a lot were. A lot more than I see around today.

That wasn't really fair to them, given how much money the owners made, but at least they were basically normal people who had relatively normal lives and had childhoods not that different from their fans'.

Their parents didn't cart them around the country to tournaments or pay huge fees for them to have a personal coach or send them to a special camp or do plyometric training (whatever that is). They didn't have a press conference at their school to announce where they'd go to college. They didn't have thousands of people in need of some perspective calling out their manhood on anonymous internet boards. There was no Scott Boras, either.


Some of the fondest memories of my life are the pick up football, wiffle ball and floor hockey games I played with my brother and the neighborhood kids. Do kids ever play any kind of pick-up games of anything anymore? It doesn't seem like it. I hardly ever see it around (except, notably, hispanic kids playing soccer).

And I'm not aware of any opportunities to play in a good pick-up situation as an adult. The opportunities are always some league where it's either way too intense and time intensive (and, sometimes, expensive) with poor officiating, or it's a "relaxed" co-ed work-related thing and everyone is there for the beer (and wants to be perceived as such, lest they come off as uncool) except that one or two guys who have to take it too seriously and make some girl cry because she didn't cut off the throw/box out in the paint/back check, etc well enough. (I refuse to join the softball team here at my office because I can easily identify who the beer-only people are and who the way-too-serious people are going to be and I want no part of that).

It's like nobody really loves the game for the game anymore. No wonder so many kids (and adults) prefer playing video game sports to the real thing. At least with video games, you can control what you want to and don't get yelled at by a coach or your dad or both.

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Rogin the Armchair fan
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This man

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epitomises everything I want my daughters to aspire to in sport, even though I'd secretly love them to emulate this man :

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I don't think sports are dead, just yet.

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Reed
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You want your daughters to do nothing but focus on golf 24/7 and have no personality and endorse Buick?
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Soccer Scrimmage
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And have giant biceps?
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Rogin the Armchair fan
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quote:
You want your daughters to do nothing but focus on golf 24/7 and have no personality and endorse Buick?
Everything up to the last three words, which I'd just replace by the phrase "earn $5m a year each from endorsements that Daddy could smile through on the adverts". Isn't that every parent's dream for their children?
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Reed
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Er, no.
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Rogin the Armchair fan
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I sincerely hope you realise I was, as we call it in the UK, "taking the piss", there, Reed.
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Reed
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Oh.
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Femme Folle
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It is an odd way to make a living, if you think about it.
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evilC
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Reed:

Although I'm hugely - perhaps terminally - disillusioned with some of the sports I loved as a child (formula 1 and soccer) I still enjoy other sports which sometimes cynically seem to get rather myopically tarred with insinuations of corruption - usually by people that don't understand them. I'm particularly thinking of American Football, after the Giants' victory over the Evil Empire ...sorry, Patriots... in the Superbowl and the Tour de France, after its very public grappling with the increasing technology of 'performance enhancement'. If I'd only put money on Contador, last year, when I first had an inkling that he might survive every test, then I could be significantly better off than I am now!

That last Superbowl was a real 'air puncher' for me, though.

[ 20.03.2008, 00:48: Message edited by: evilC ]

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Don Malhumorado
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This is how FC United saved my sport (well, football) supporting life.
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Amor de Cosmos
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Do kids ever play any kind of pick-up games of anything anymore? It doesn't seem like it. I hardly ever see it around (except, notably, hispanic kids playing soccer).

This is the saddest thing of all. Not long ago kids had their own games, not just soccer and stick ball, but Kingey, Red Rover, Statues and hundreds more. We played them in the street, on empty lots, in the schoolyard. Handed down by elder brothers and sisters for, probably, thousands of years or more they seem to have vanished in our culture in a couple of generations. They were where we taught ourselves organisation and social ethics. You learned pretty quickly that if you didn't play fair you'd be excluded or the game would end and no one would have any fun. Now adults control this area of children's life, kids are encouraged to emulate rather than collectively problem solve. It's a huge, huge loss.

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jason voorhees
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They do play pick up games. They log onto their Xbox after school, and play a giant game of Doom or World of Warcraft or Madden '08 over the internet. Kids make hundreds becoming tutors to other kids in the techniques of guns or zone blitzes, and now professional videogame leagues are popping up.

It's not their fault that they aren't interested in what we're interested in.

But yes reed, I feel your damn pain. It's like all of these phyrric victories: the baseball players finally break the home run records we all grew up with - but it was due to the roids. We finally get to see the BoSox and Yanks in some incredible pennant series - and it's due to the crappy wild card game which has sucked the last bit of life from the baseball regular season. We finally have sports to watch 24/7 - and it's all empty-headed banter on ESPN. We finally have AllAmerican Stanley Cup finals and winners - which has chopped the head off the country that gave the game its passion to begin with. Michael Jordan finally doesn't dominate - and we get stuck with Kobe and Tim Duncan.

I have actually liked watching the NBA on the Chinese feed on Sopcast. The Chinese channel CCTV presents it with excellent graphics, and you can feel the excitement they have for the game. It's brand new and incredibly exciting to them, in a way that it's simply not here.

That said, the Giants game was indeed a religious experience for me. There's no one who can tell me that Eli didn't want to win and silence everybody who said he was a whiny petulant bitch. And like I have said multiple times, I'm really feeling the NFL now. Maybe because it's easy to follow, with requiring only a Sunday or Monday a week instead of 4-5 games a week. Maybe it's a much easier-to-follow playoffs system. Maybe because there's so few games, the players must be at the top of their game every second they're on the field.

But yes, ESPN Classic kicks ass.

And hey, drop out and stop watching. Get into museums, traveling, theatre, opera. It's not as if when sports start getting good again (if they ever do,) you're not going to know.

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Reed
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The NFL does manage to transcend its own problems better than any other popular sport in America. Every time I think I'm out, they pull me back in. I'm less compelled by college football. I still follow Penn State football and W&M football because it is hardwired into my brain, but all the BCS nonsense, hype/bullshit machine, recruiting shenanigans, dominance of southern redneck culture, etc, makes it hard to care otherwise.

But the NFL seems to always find a compelling storyline. This year was the most boring in memory, but then the Giants made it memorable. That's why it's so, er, popular.

For me, the NHL manages to do that too. Most pundits in America have written it off and don't give it a chance, but that's because they don't really get it. They don't really understand how hard it is, how fast it is, how painful it is. The problem with the NHL is that tickets are too expensive and, in Washington and Boston (two of the only three NHL arenas I've been to) the piped-in "atmosphere" is annoying. (although, to be fair, the Caps have made massive improvements in this area in recent years). The St. Paul XCel center is different. That place is a shrine of the game and I love it. I just don't get many chances to get there.

I agree that classic NBA and ABA is better than it is now. It seems like it somehow meant more to those old guys with the afros and the short shorts. And the old highlight packages are always accompanied by the ideal funk soundtrack. However, as much as I don't really like basketball now, I find pre-shot clock, pre-three pointshot basketball utterly unwatchable. I tried to find some footage on youtube of some old four cornes but couldn't. White dudes just throwing chest passes to each other ad nauseum. Like lacrosse, but slower and without contact or goalies.


quote:
They were where we taught ourselves organisation and social ethics. You learned pretty quickly that if you didn't play fair you'd be excluded or the game would end and no one would have any fun. Now adults control this area of children's life, kids are encouraged to emulate rather than collectively problem solve. It's a huge, huge loss.
I don't think I've ever read anything in my life that I've agreed with more completely. That is EXACTLY the point. Pick up games were the perfect lesson in self-regulation.

And its not that we didn't take it seriously. We played really hard because playing hard was fun. We just didn't worry about the outcome five minutes after it was over. In fact, the church youth group (it was more hippy than Christian) in high school used to play these massive co-ed tackle football games on our retreats. It was very intense. One dude broke his arm. One kid got his braces ripped out when he caught them on somebody else's jeans. But we never even kept score. It was just playing just to play.

I realized how much I missed our playground games when I played intramural floor hockey in college. When we used to play pick up, it was totally clean. No clutching, grabbing, cheating, or hooking of any kind. But as soon as you introduce a ref, especially a crappy ref whose only qualification is having read a three page pamphlet (I'm not saying I expect better in IM college sports), it seems to inspire a lot of players to try to see what they can get away with, and then whine to the refs when they don't get their way (I'm looking at you, fuckers from Kappa Alpha). When we used to sneak into Rec Hall to play, rough play was contained with an older kid telling a younger kid "hey, stop being a dick." That did the trick. Sometimes, especially when we were young, kids flounced, or cried or took their ball and went home, but even that taught us something. It taught us how shitty it is when people flounce, cry and take their ball and go home and compelled us to find better ways of handling disagreements and anger.

When parents are involved, the whining and bullshit can be raised to a whole other level. A problem that could be handled in the sandlot with a two minute profanity-laden conversation among the participants turns into a fucking international incident when parents and "league officials" get involved. When the parents are paying a whole lot of money for the privilege, then it goes over the edge.

Not that organized sports are all bad. I had a few really good little league baseball and soccer coaches who focused on teaching, teamwork, attitude and fun. And there's a lot of value in learning how to play under the control of a referee. But that has to be balanced against an opportunity to create, explore, invent, etc.

My friend Byron is the king of inventing new sports on the spot. We could be waiting for the bus and he'd invent a whole game in five minutes using only his mind, a nerf football and a snow drift. I can't remember all the games he invented.

My brother and I used to play "knee football" which was basically one on one gridiron in the family room but you had to "run" on your knees. That usually lasted until my mom noticed we were about to break an antique lamp.

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jason voorhees
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Hell yeah, we called it living room football. We had this big football pillow, and the rules were pretty good. You could kick it off, and it was down when an elbow or the ball or a shoulder hit the ground. We could pass the ball, in that we threw it up in the air to ourselves, or you could throw it on top of the shelf or piano and if you grabbed it off first it was a TD. I guess enough people played that shit to get people involved in Arena Football.

My friend Zach had a backyard which enabled some of the greater invented games. One was pool baseball, which was basically pool dodgeball with innings. One person had a ball in the non-diving board side, and people had to jump off the diving board while avoiding the ball getting thrown at them. Since 4 or 5 or more people could play, the scores would be 2-3-4-4-3. One thrower threw one ball at one person per inning. If the person jumping off caught the ball, they'd get the point. Although it was rare, catching a ball basically guaranteed a win.

The other shit that was hilarious was iceman bowling. One year we had about 5 inches of nothing but icerain, which turned the backyard into a skating rink. So one person had to stand by the fence, and the other had to run at them and get into a tuck position to bowl them over. If you hit the person and they went "down" (at least hand touching the ground, or basically taking an extra step to balance, if not going down completely,) it was a point. However, if while sliding the soles of your feet came off the ground or you went to a knee - it was an automatic zero. Being that my friend was a stocky football center, he beat my ass everytime as he was wide and was basically built for that game.

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