7.28.2009

Kicking the Habit

I'm not sure when I lost my taste for all things sports. I grew up living and dying with the Cincinnati Reds and Royals....I remember being on my dad's shoulders at Fountain Square in 1961, I think..when the the Reds beat the Pirates for the Pennant..

You're talking to someone who couldn't eat for three days after Carlton Fisk hit the homerun to win game six of the '75 World Series. I was in the sports booth when he did it. I was there working as a sports reporter.

I mean what people tend to forget is that the playoffs with the Pirates went down to bottom of the ninth, two outs in two games, before the Reds pulled it out to even get to the World Series.

During the celebration on Fountain Square, in 1976, I was standing, interviewing the police chief when somebody threw a 40 ounce beer bottle at him. It shattered on the wall between us...The Reds went on to beat the Yankees that year...

I used to watch the games from the announce booth with the voice of the Reds, Paul Summercamp. Gordie Coleman and Paul Rathgaber were there, too, sometimes.

Frank Robinson, Vada Pinson, Oscar Robertson's brother Baily were neighbors. Baily was one of my softball coaches. My other coach was Tom Turner of the Negro Baseball Leagues..

My parents were jocks. I thought everyone got up before the crack of dawn to go run six miles on the track at Walnut Hills High School and then go to the Melrose Y to spar, shadowbox in the ring and work the speed bag in the gym. My Dad did that and took me with him. I was two or three...walking..but not much else.

My mom played ball and bowled..She was a highly ranked amateur in Ohio, matching my father's prowess in the boxing ring..

My parents and I used to go to every Mohammed Ali fight...I stood between them as my mom rooted for Joe Frazier and me and Dad rooted for Ali....It was a long ride home the night Frazier beat Ali..Mom has never let us forget it...to this day..

I mean, when I was a kid my Sundays didn't start with church...they started with the Cleveland Browns...Jim Brown...Lou Groza...Paul Warfield..the holy trinity..

Loving sports was in my blood. And it lasted a long time. I mean I lived in Chicago the entire time that Michael Jordan played with the Bulls..retired...came back...played again...Michael had this habit of working out at various gyms around the city. One day, for three days, he chose mine on Broadway...He got a good workout...we just watched surreptitiously while playing with the weights and attempting to be cool as he stood among us...

I can remember getting dressed to join my friends at one of the play off games when OJ decided to do his slo-mo run from police. Chicago TV split screened the chase with the game.

I never made it to the game to be with my friends that night, but I do remember sitting there half dressed...watching that split screen...with tears streaming down my face....watching my old hero and my new hero...simultaneously...

It was a joyous time in Chicago...I lived a few blocks from Wrigley Field...open my windows and I could hear Harry Carey sing during the seventh inning....

I braved below zero temperatures along with 3 million other people to welcome home the Bears after the Superbowl...It was magic...

One night after reporting from the Virginia Slims tennis tournament...I was on a city bus that turned over after the driver fell asleep at the wheel and hit an abutment....My knee got stepped on in the ensuing stampede off the bus...I was the only one carried off the bus...If you see me limping today, as I sometimes do...it's because of this particular sports injury...

I played sports....I watched sports....I breathed sports....I worked sports.....

Yet...It no longer dominates...like it used to...

I don't care if Michael Vick finds a new team.....or if there is a coverup surrounding Ben Rothlisberger...

Nor do I care if Pete Rose is reinstated....Hell, unless ESPN takes over ABC network for some sporting event...I never see it these days...

And while I still turn him on to watch or to keep track....I realize that I don't really like Tiger Woods...

He is amazing at his sport...but he seems.....not human....more humanoid...no spark...nothing going on inside....

Same for Roger Federer....mechanical efficiency...yet incites no passion...

Rafa incites passion...but I can take it or leave it..

There is nothing that keeps me coming back anymore... except maybe the Williams sisters.....I guess my passion is gone...

These amazingly talented individuals work their sports like it is a business...and it is....but business is not exciting or passionate..

It's not sport..

and no longer worth my attention..


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