Has Sports Nation completely lost its mind?
I’m not sure when we completely lost our minds – and I’m not talking March Madness here, it’s more of a year-round mania – but I link it to the military-industrial complex, the cult of celebrity, the Internet and energy drinks.
Look out your window, dear readers: That thick layer of smoke hanging above us is not pea-soup smog, it’s a societal malaise determined to darken our horizon for generations to come.
(Oh my goodness, I have to get back on my anti-depressant medications.)
Our egalitarian United States is descending into an evil-minded Sports Nation.
Three fathers – three fathers – have been arrested this month at youth sporting events:
• Joseph Cordes, 42, faces a charge of disturbing the peace after allegedly pointing a laser at the eyes of a goalie opposing his daughter’s high school hockey team in Winthrop, Mass.
• Timothy Lee Forbes, 34, faces charges of disorderly conduct, assault-and-battery and felony mayhem for allegedly attacking the coach of a Catholic Youth Organization pre-teen basketball team that beat his son’s team in Springfield, Mass. During the postgame attack, one of the coach’s ears was partially bitten off.
• Shelly Miller, 37, of Michigan City, Ind., faces felony battery charges after allegedly punching an assistant middle-school basketball coach into an unconscious state, apparently upset that the coach made his daughter run extra laps after practice.
To review, we have a laser pointer, an ear biter and an old-fashioned brawler, all acting, I suppose, in the best interests of their children.
Where exactly do we go from here?
Well, first we have the difficult task of figuring out how we got to here from there. Or to quote Cosmo Castorini from the 1987 film “Moonstruck” – after his wife Rose inquires about his whereabouts – “I don’t know where I’ve been and I don’t know where I’m going.”
A DirecTV ad campaign tells us that being left on hold by your cable company eventually leads to being left helplessly in a ditch. Similarly, Couch Slouch is trying to connect the dots to trace our journey from Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to the Pacers-Pistons brawl at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
First came the wheel, then the internal combustion engine, air conditioning, television, nuclear weaponry and, ultimately, ESPN.
Best I can tell, the wheel allowed us to start driving to games, then cooling systems and TV sets allowed us to stay home and watch more games, then the means of violence got more destructive than ever, then ESPN somehow stepped into the breach.
Now, ESPN is both cause and symptom of many of the cultural excesses we currently endure, but the Worldwide Leader is an underrated institution because it takes our minds off the fact that we could blow planet Earth to smithereens at any given moment.
And speaking of our fragile planet, even though ESPN undeniably exacerbates global warming, it also makes us oblivious to the ozone layer thinning at an alarming rate. Thank you, Big Monday!
(Even President Obama uses ESPN as a diversionary tactic. On the same day he said, “The United States takes this as seriously as if it was our own citizens and our own children who were murdered,” in response to a U.S. soldier accused of killing 16 Afghans, he filled out his NCAA brackets on ESPN. Really? Would he still have gone on TV with Final Four picks if an Afghan soldier had shot, stabbed and burned U.S. civilians?)
Anyhow, sports can be inspirational, captivating, enthralling, uplifting. But it’s just a game. None of it matters in the big picture; even in the little picture – or on a large-screen TV – it shouldn’t matter more than somebody wins, somebody loses and somebody else enjoys watching it with a root beer or Ritz crackers within reach.
On the other hand, if you want to start pointing lasers at teenaged players or awarding bounties for injuring opponents, we should simply build a border fence around all of America, declare “Rollerball” our national sport and the let the blood spill nightly until last call.
Ask The Slouch
Q. Cornell physicists recently announced they created a nanosecond wormhole in the fabric of time. Any chance they can expand that opening to go back and rescind the past 12 years of Redskins ownership by Daniel Snyder? (Tori Wiggins; Los Angeles)
A. Scientifically speaking, you’re asking for something akin to reversing continental drift, therefore making London a suburb of Justin Bieber’s home town.
Q. If you lose your wife in a poker game, can you still take the charitable-donations deduction after you’ve given away all her stuff? (Bob Dalton; Arlington, Va.)
A. Check my 1987 and 2003 tax returns, pal.
Q. Are you concerned that, if the government restructures the U.S. Postal Service and significantly reduces services, the Pirates may have trouble mailing it in this season? (Bruce Reale; Naples, Fla.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
Norman Chad is a syndicated columnist. You can enter his $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!