They Said It Better Than I Ever Could...

These words that I write, they keep me from total insanity. -Charles Bukowski

Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived, or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed? -Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Jul 7, 2010

Show Ponies...

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  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.
Parking:  $20+
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...


  1. Apparently I have been living in Antarctica, but my excuse is I'm British and the only sport I follow is football (excuse me, soccer).

    So a bunch of guys running up and down a tiny wooden court bouncing a ball and tossing it into a teeny-tiny net holds absolutely no interest for me.... sorry.

    Great post though :-)

    Can't wait for the Rugby World Cup 2011... know you're talking!

  2. Football/Soccer doesn't matter. You Limeys take obsession and stupidity regarding sports to a level not seen in these United States.

    And I'll thank you very much not to disparage our games. If we (the US) ever bothered with soccer we'd dominate that one too.

    Thanks for reading.

  3. Shock (hand over mouth). You're awesome ;-) No disparaging intended my American cousin (and I hope I didn't offend you but it's hard to read "tone" in text and I have a very dry sense of humor).

    My son is a Corporal serving with the Royal Marine Commandos, (check out my photos page) he's preparing for his fourth deployment and loves to come Stateside and get wraped up in sports.

    I'm just a silly old "mad cow" I guess.


  4. Don't worry Mad Cow. I should probably begin all my comments with this

    (Smart ass comment to follow)

    And then go from there. A little friendly ribbing is good for ya. And me.

  5. I refuse to watch (even on TV) a bunch of giant crimnals bounce a ball around a court and get over-paid for it. You are right, they are not heroes.

    But I am fascinated by the World Cup and I love to go to see the local minor league baseball team. Still, they are not heroes.

  6. You are so true they are not heros. They are here for the companies to sell there product. Thats about it. How many kids out there are wearing $200 shoes just because so and so wears them. I want to be the hero in my kids life and right now I am.

  7. I ain't gonna lie. I will be sitting right in front of my television watching the spectacle that is LeBron James and tweeting all the while. I can't even pretend that I'm disgusted by this whole mess (though it is disgusting) because I'm too enthralled. The ponies are putting on quite a show!

  8. The Heat is on.... :)
    Excellent post, points are all valid!
    I believe the day Joe Namath put on a pair of pantyhose back in 1974,changed the world of sports/advertising forever! He took sports 'icon' to a new level and we gobbled it up. Someone must have said, 'Let the Pony Show begin'.......

  9. I completely love your Blog! I just stumbled into it aout,,,oh..5 minutes ago. Now I'm going to follow along the bouncing ball!

  10. Well thank you Renee, and let's see where the ball bounces next...


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