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Consider This

By LC Van Savage

Sports Are Good For You, Right??

I’ve really tried hard to like or at least appreciate sports in my lifetime but I just simply can’t. I just don’t get it. All that noise and effort, money, sweat and pain. Aren’t there other and better things we can do with our spare time? Like, oh say nothing? Nothing’s fun. Nothing never hurts.

I know. I know. Doing sports builds healthy bodies, and character, or so they say. Team spirit. Camaraderie. Well, my character, such as it is, was not built by doing sports. Perhaps yours was and I salute you for that. But, when I was forced to do sports in grammar, high school and college, my character got unbuilt pretty embarrassingly every afternoon when we were forced to play soccer and field hockey, dodge ball, badminton, softball, broad jump, tennis, basketball, high jump (I couldn’t even do the low jump) race running and other brutal cruelties. I was the one perpetually sprawled on the ground. I was a short-legged, falling down, stumbling, unco-ordinated sloth back then and I’ve proudly maintained my title all these years. I did learn to run a mean three-legged-race though. Want to know the secret? You don’t run. You gallop together, especially if your partner has legs up to her earlobes and your legs end about 18 inches from the dirt. That’d be mine.

So, let’s talk about Tom Brady. Nice kid I’m sure, but are you aware that his name was more in the news when he damaged his knee than any other person, including our esteemed presidential candidates and their chosen side-kicks? Newspapers, magazines, radio talk shows, TV---he’s gotten more press than bad boy Bill Clinton did during his most juicy revelations, or even his revels. Our entire nation went into deep mourning over Brady’s football injury, and I’m really sorry for him and his team, but looking at those other bruisers out there on the field I wonder if they maybe can’t muddle along without him. Nice guy and all, a babe for sure, but if black arm bands were still in style, I think we’d all be expected to wear one in honor of his injury, but I wouldn’t wear one anyway. Not me. No way. Black is just not my color.

Look. As a person who’s recently discovered that I own two very painful knees (I spent 70 years without a twinge, I take a just a simple little fall last June into a horse cart being pulled by a nice and sweet old Clydesdale and poof, I’m suddenly limping, wincing, whining, hobbling and even occasionally using a cane) so I’m very, very sympathetic. Honestly I’d rather give birth to triplets naked on a glacier in January in the Arctic Circle than to have that knee pain again. Ye gods, that smarts some wicked.

So I feel really sorry for that nice boy Tom Brady, but come on, there really is lots and lots of other news, and the guy was playing just a game, folks, a game where big strong men are paid an obscene amount of money to sprint about after a ball that doesn’t even bounce properly, and to smash and hurt each other while they’re doing that.

And what’s worse, these football dudes are often called “heroes.” Heroes? You mean like people who rush into burning buildings to save babies or jump into icy waters to save kids who’ve fallen through the ice, or maybe like one of our American military kids who have died or been maimed in a terrible, heinous war? Like those heroes? I don’t think so.

Sports figures are not not not heroes. They’re athletes. They play sweaty games. Many make a very decent living doing that. Many work hard and long years, sacrificing much to win gold and silver and bronze medals for being great athletes, and many athletes go on to give our young people something important to look up to and follow, and that’s good, so good. Many young people have found that sports have pulled them out of a dreadful life and have allowed them to live a far better life from which they came, and that too is good, so good.

But I still don’t get it. Those games never change. The participants in them just do the same thing over and over and over and over while thousands and thousands of people scream a lot and shout obscenities at the players for making errors when they themselves could not possibly do what the athletes do on that field or anyplace else.

Eventually, mercifully, those games do come to an end. But have you ever noticed that from another room those games all sound identical? It is baseball? Football? What? Who knows? It’s as if someone has recorded one big generic game and they just replay it forever and ever. Boring. The voices and the people in the stands all do and say the same things. They drone on forever. And folks, there are so many other cool things on the tube to watch; old films, History, Discovery, old films and SciFi, the innards of a termite mound, a heart operation, sharks up close and personal. There’s a huge potpourri of great stuff to watch on that Vast Wasteland so why do we waste all that valuable viewing time on those endless, dreary sports? No wonder people love a good brawl out on the playing field, or court or whatever. Anything to break up the repetitious tedium.

Oh, and there are also books, folks! Books are silent, educational, they transport us to everywhere, and no one in recorded history has ever gotten a torn-up knee cap from reading one.

But those games really never do end, you know. After the players run off the field to what we hope are long hot showers, there are hours and hours of rehashing for the viewing public, where those viewers who may be dying to put a nice 1939 movie on the tube have to wait and wait and wait so that every agonizingly boring instant of that game is played and replayed and of course discussed, until I find I cannot suppress a good, loud scream.

Oddly though, no one in this house even hears that scream when they’re staring like zombies at the TV screen with a game on it. They don’t even glance in my direction; they’ve become used to it. God forbid I should have a spell of some kind one day during one of those interminably boring, unending professional ball games, let out a few hideous screams and drop to the floor in a coma. This group of males in my home would step over or maybe even on me to get another beer. They might glance down and say something like “Oh hi Ma. Get up, OK? You’re kind of in the way.”

Another sports thing that ticks me off is the assumption that the majority of Americans are so enamoured by sports that the people who produce those jock extravaganzas allow good shows to be pre-empted so that we may all be forced into watching the end of the game. I happen to very much enjoy “Sixty Minutes” but some studio honchos make the decision for me and millions of others that we’d prefer to watch a game’s end, and then of course the tedious rehashes. Who are those guys anyway? At 7 PM on Sunday nights I want to watch “Sixty Minutes” and I don’t want to see and hear a bunch of interviews by the “heroes” of some long, stultifying game that are about as fascinating as watching garden slugs doing the fifty yard dash over hot tar. Sorry, I just don’t get it.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.
Email LC at
See her on incredibleMAINE, MPBN,
10:30 AM Saturdays


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