New year, old habits: Sports Nation often gets it shorts all bunched up about everything and anything. At the moment, you can turn on talk radio – or dip a big toe in an online forum — and hear the clamor about next Monday’s Alabama-LSU BCS title game. Oh, the horror — the horror!!! — this rematch stirs up.
This unrelenting devotion to all matters sporting strikes me as a springboard to insanity.
Think about this:
We have been at war somewhere in the world since 2001 — at war — and that gets less scrutiny than an average NFL game. For real. Buccaneers-Falcons is dissected in detail much more than U.S.-Afghanistan; that’s an NFC divisional game weighed against an international armed conflict.
(I often am told that I’m just an old man out of touch. Guess what? I once was a young man out of touch. So, trust me, age has nothing to do with this. What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong, and America’s continued obsession with sport at the expense of substance remains the Achilles’ heel of our culture.)
What concerns me about our ongoing fight against terrorism is this:
The Muslim fundamentalists believe we are the devil incarnate and they are willing to strap bombs to their bodies to defeat the American enemy. Us? We just want to watch football every Sunday. In short, they appear committed to a grand cause while we remain committed to instant replay.
So, yes, I worry.
We spend more money on stadiums than schools.
At our institutions of higher learning, we care more about basketball than biology.
“Crossfire” has been replaced by “Pardon the Interruption”; actually, that’s probably a good thing.
Sometimes I stumble upon Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith on ESPN2’s “First Take” and wonder, “Is this a ‘Saturday Night Live’ sketch?” I half-expect one of their heads will explode one morning while shouting, and if that happens, I fully expect the other guy will keep on shouting.
They never stop screaming, because they believe it’s entertaining or because they’re really serious; it’s either disingenuous or distressing. Heck, these fellows have convictions about EVERYTHING; I mean, how much conviction can you have about an offensive coordinator’s third-down play selection?
(How out of whack are our priorities and sensibilities? Just look at the “Call of Duty” video-game series. In November 2009, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” set a first-day sales record with 4.7 million copies to reap $310 million. In November 2010, “Call of Duty: Black Ops” topped that with 5.6 million and $360 million in sales in its first 24 hours. Then, in November 2011, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” hit 6.4 million and $400 million on opening day. It’s a battlefield out there, and while we ignore real war, we love to shoot ’em up on our PlayStations.)
I used to think I loved sports as much as the next guy — well, unless the next guy walks in wearing a Yankees baseball cap, Lawrence Taylor football jersey and New York Rangers wristwatch — but I now realize I only liked sports in spurts. Which, frankly, might be healthier.
Sure, as a kid, nothing beats the anticipation of going to the ballpark or watching a big game on TV. But as an adult? Sports is still a great release; beyond that, there’s got to be more to a fine day than getting World Series home-field advantage by winning the All-Star Game. There has to be a greater sense of accomplishment than seeing your alma mater’s biggest rival go on probation, no?
I’m not a religious man, but something tells me that just walking by a church on any given Sunday is a better idea than slouching on a couch on any given Sunday.
I’m not just talking here about a New Year’s resolution, I’m talking about a New Year’s revolution. Let’s put the games on pause and pick up our lives.
If nothing else, we need to downsize Big Monday.
By the way, how can Alabama be playing for the national championship? The Crimson Tide already lost to LSU and didn’t even win its own conference. Who’s minding the BCS store, Howdy Doody?
Q. Will LSU be national champion even if it loses to Alabama in the BCS title game? (Philip Murphy; Boardman, Ohio)
A. Actually, I believe the combination of an LSU loss and a Notre Dame loss elevates the Fighting Irish to No. 1.
Q. Has a newspaper ever resorted to “flex scheduling” to replace one of your less interesting columns? (Mark Concannon; Whitefish Bay, Wis.)
A. Under your proposal, newspapers would run my column no more than once a month.
Q. The Golden State Warriors hired a TV announcer as their new coach. Any chance you’ll leave the broadcast booth to be a poker coach? (Mark Cohen; Gibsonia, Pa.)
A. If I’m qualified to be a poker coach, then the game truly involves no skills.
Q. Do you stash your mouth guard between your face mask and helmet between marriages? (Mike Jonas; Berwyn, Ill.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
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