I was watching TV a while back with my Auntie Buddy.
Here is the exchange that took place. We were watching the Chicago Bulls vs. the Detroit Pistons.
Auntie Buddy: Who is that guy?
Me: Which one?
Auntie Buddy: The black guy.
Me: Okay, not narrowing it down at all.
Auntie Buddy: The bald one.
Me: Okay, so you want to know who the bald black guy on the basketball team is?
Auntie Buddy: Yes.
I tell you that story because I think that Auntie Buddy was on to something as far as America's obsession with sports/athletes goes.
She couldn't give a shit less. They were nothing more than show ponies to her.
I bring this up because no doubt, unless you live in Antarctica you have heard about the LeBron James sweepstakes that is sweeping the NBA right now. He is announcing his decision tomorrow night no ESPN in an hour long special. How self-important do you have to be to think that the decision on which team you are playing for next year is worth an entire hour on national television?
Hi, I'm LeBron James and I'll be playing in...insert NBA city here.
That should take all of a minute, if that. But this guy is going to make it take an hour.
Now here's my thought. Americans are obsessed with their sports teams. And for the record I am just as culpable, if not more so, than a lot of people. The Bears, The Blackhawks, The White Sox, The Bulls. These teams are never far from my mind during their respective seasons.
I watch them on TV. I follow them in the news. I check their websites. I follow them on ESPN.com. I talk about them with my friends. And here's the one that truly pisses me off, my mood is affected by whether they win or lose.
For the most part I've stopped going to the games. I still like going, and for special occasions I still go. But think about it...
300 level seats at the Cell: $36 or so a piece.
Hot Dog: $4.75
Beer: $6.75 (When you drink like I do they add up.)
We're already over sixty bucks just for one person. Sprinkle in a kid or two, your significant other and you're looking at over $200 just to go to a baseball game.
So yeah, the prices at the park piss me off. And every other team in town is just as bad. I haven't been to a Bears game in years. Same with the Bulls, and same with the Hawks.
Its simple logic for me.
At the park, you sit with 60,000 other people, you wait in line for a hot dog, beer or whatever else. You wait in line for the bathroom. You deal with traffic backed up forever when you go and when you leave. And on and on I could go.
At home, you sit with only those you invite over, on a nice comfy luxurious couch. No line for the bathroom and if there is its just one guy. Never wait for food, plus you get exactly what you want. And the beer is just a short jaunt over to the fridge. And NO ONE will ever convince me that there is a better seat in the house than watching that game in your house on TV. Ever tried to see a puck from the nose-bleeds at the United Center?
Now back to the point of this. LeBron James gets an hour of TV time to announce his decision because?
Because people are going to watch.
People are crazy. There have been people outside LeBron's offices (why does a basketball player need offices) everyday campaigning for this team or that. There are entire websites dedicated to this. Online polls, and the fucking President has even gotten involved. Telling the world that he would love to see LeBron come to the Bulls.
Here's the point. Athletes are not role models, nor are they heroes. Role models should be fathers, mothers, friends, people with real accomplishments. Throwing a ball through a hoop doesn't qualify. Curing cancer, raising a family, helping the poor. These qualify.
Athletes are show ponies. There to entertain us. Run, jump, hit, score. Do it all. We'll watch.
Then go away.
Your ridiculous salaries don't even bother me. If the guy that signs the checks is willing to pay you that, then he must be making at least a few bucks off of you so God bless you both.
I'm sorry, I love my hometown teams. Same as many of you do. But I've gotten just a bit disillusioned with the entirety of it. Its like a religion with some. (As I look at the 5 foot White Sox banner I have on my wall, while the flag I got in Afghanistan is but 2'x2'. Twisted.
And stop (this is for the fans) referring to your teams and using the pronoun "we". We implies you are on the team. You aren't. You are there as the cattle that makes the pilgrimage to the stadium and spends exorbitant amounts of money to support those salaries.
Athletes are show ponies, nothing more. And we have to learn to put them in the stable till the next time we want to see them.
Now I've got to set my DVR to record LeBron's special, and I need to get back to the White Sox game. Top of the 6th, Sox 2 Angels 1. We're only one game out of 1st.
I love you Mom...