| ||The greatest testament to the power and charms of sports is that
we still are drawn to them despite the horrors of their modern form. We must
truly love sports to suffer through these 10 blights:
1. Art Modell. By moving the Browns despite decades of sellouts
in Cleveland, Modell became the poster child for increasingly greedy
owners obsessed with obtaining revenue streams even wider than their
waistlines. With virtual monopolies in each sport, these business-suited
vampires blackmail communities into building unnecessary stadiums with
luxury suites so lavish that if Nero walked into one he would ask for
something a bit more understated.
What do you call 16 of the 31 NFL owners at the bottom of the
ocean? A good start.
2. Staples Center. What does the average fan get from bankrolling
these monuments to corporate excess? Seats they can't afford that are
farther away from the game but closer to the concourses where even more
money can be vacuumed from their wallets. Consider the Lakers' new crib.
When they moved into Staples Center this season, they raised their average
ticket price from $51 to $81.
At that rate, pretty soon the only people who can afford to watch
a game will be the ones playing them.
3. The Suzuki Heisman Trophy. Attention K-Mart
shoppers! The wide world of sports is now on sale in aisle 23!
Baseball considers selling advertising on its uniforms. The
Oakland Coliseum's official name is Network Associates Coliseum. The
Insight.com Bowl joins the bloated holiday lineup. And just in case you
think there are still some standards, some things not for sale, remember
this: the Heisman Trophy is now sponsored by an auto company.
And don't get me started on the damn swoosh.
4. Artificial turf. The biggest problem with artificial turf is
it is as contagious as the ebola virus. Play a game on turf and the game
seems artificial as well.
5. 1998 NBA lockout. Athletes who don't know Cesar Chavez from
Cesar Tovar suddenly feel qualified to give us lessons in labor
negotiations. Major league players struck in 1981, 1985 and 1994, with
another labor Armageddon looming in two years. NFL players struck in 1982
and 1987 (when owners shrugged and hired scabs). NHL players struck in
1994. The NBA locked out its players last winter, prompting Kenny
Anderson to say of his $57,000 car insurance bills, his $120,000 "hanging around money," and his $150,000 rent in Beverly Hills, "I have to start getting tight."
On the other hand, there are some seasons when the leagues
actually play their games as scheduled.
6. Fantasy leagues. Not even the fans are interested anymore
unless they put a price tag on the players. Root for a favorite team?
Forget it, not when Get-A-Lifers need a big day from Cris Carter for
their fantasy league. The worst part of fantasy leagues is that "the
owners" insist on telling everyone at the office about "their" team
each Monday, as if anyone cares. Get a life, people and let us work in
Oh, and the costume shop called. They say they're out of Spock
7. Lawrence Phillips. His football field of troubles began
when he dragged his girlfriend down a staircase. But because he could
likewise drag defenders down the field, someone always looked the other
way and rewarded him with fat contracts. Unfortunately, he's not alone,
reaffirming the oldest lesson of sports: You'll be excused of anything as
long as you can help a team win.
8. Scott Boras. Not counting Jim Varney's work in the "Ernest"
movie series, the most extraordinary acting performance in recent years
was Tom Cruise in "Jerry Maguire." He made an agent sympathetic.
9. End zone celebrations. In the 1970s, Glenn Burke slapped a
teammate's hand after a home run, thereby giving us the high-five and
ushering sports lower into hell. Two decades of descent later, sports has
become an endless, tiresome and crudely choreographed routine of
throat-slashing, pistol-shooting, arm-windmilling, heavens-pointing,
leg-kicking, hip-swiveling, duck-strutting, head-bobbing and
chest-thumping Rockette celebrations.
And that's just for assisting on a tackle when your team is down
by 17 in the fourth quarter.
10. Sports talk radio. Most people can't name their local
representative and haven't used a library card since Brian Bosworth's
biography came out, but everyone seems to have an opinion in sports, usually angry and
almost always negative. Worse, they pollute the airwaves by expressing it
to some loud talk show host, none of whom will ever be in line for an
Edward R. Murrow award.
Put down the cell phone and give it a rest, will ya? Remember,
even Denny's closes for Christmas.
Jim Caple is a regular contributor to ESPN.com.
|Move a team from Cleveland? Art Modell is the perfect symbol of the modern owner.|| |
Caple: 10 reasons to love sports