02 July 2005

Professional Sports

I was raised in a Midwestern State where High School Basketball is "King".
The entire State shuts down the night of the State Championship game!

We adopted the town we live in now because in many ways, the atmosphere here is similar to where I grew up. (And the town I grew up in has changed so much, I couldn't stand to live there!)

But Pro Sports are king here, and I don't understand why.

It's normal to have someone start a conversation with you by saying, "how 'bout them "Sparrows"?

To me, the "Sparrows" are just another big business. I haven't checked their roster lately, but the last time I looked, the "Sparrows" had a Japanese pitcher, a Santa Domingan shortstop, and a catcher from Outer Slobovia!
What do I have in common with these folks, and why should I get emotionally involved with them?

Why do they play the game? Could it be the $1,500,000 average salary these fellas are being paid?

Someone may as well start the conversation with me by asking, "How 'bout that General Electric.......ain't they somethin'?"

Now, High School ball is a different story.
If you're involved, you know the players and their families from top to bottom. A kid might even be on the field because of advice, or some other form of support you gave him/her.

And he/she is on the playing field for one reason: the love of the game.

Granted, some may also hope to help defray College costs with a scholarship, or maybe even one day be paid the big bucks to play for the "Sparrows", but most kids know that's just a dream. The work they devote to the game shows loyalty to the team and the school.

When I'm asked "how 'bout them 'Sparrows'?, my answer is generally "Why should I care?"

I've never gotten a satisfactory answer to the question.

Am I missing something?


Aviatrix said...

I never before understood the American enthusiasm for high school and college level sports. You just made it make sense.

I only watch hockey--which means I don't watch any pro sports, because hockey is gone gone gone--and they don't have that at the highschool level because schools don't have their own ice rinks. At the university level it can be good, but it's not NHL good. I watch it for the timing, the teamwork, the excitement of the game. And it's fun when the whole community identifies with a team and comes together to cheer for it. Like hen you don't have the TV on but you know your team scored because every house on the block is full of screaming people.

Greybeard said...

I've watched fans from pro teams get wound up while watching winning seasons unfold, and I can understand a part of that. There is no question that you are watching the "pinnacle" of performance with the pros, but here is what troubles me......
Some years back, I adopted a certain second baseman as my favorite player. He was a class act......good all-around player, and a gentleman off the field. I read all I could read about him and took pride when he made "the impossible play".

Two years later, he was traded.
Two years after that, he was on the team that beat my team in the world series!

Pro sports are a business, and the players are cogs in the machines of that business.

High schoolers play to win for their communities. If you follow the team, you know the struggles these kids have sometimes had to even be on the field. They WILL NOT be playing for the team that beats you in a tournament in two years!

I'm sorry for you pro hockey fans. It has to be a terrific disappointment to be deprived of something you really enjoy, and in such a way that you're not sure it will even return, (although I think you're mistaken about it being "gone, gone, gone".....there is too much money out there in facilities and other franchise property to never play hockey again.) But I think hockey is an indicator of the problem that all pro sports have.
Pro hockey will be dramatically changed when it does return, and I think the sport will be healthier for it!