Sunday, March 4, 2007
Things I love & hate about sports
Here’s the start to a list that will certainly grow with time: Things I love & hate about sports. Must be in a bad mood. I’m more a hater tonight. That’s not something to love.
■ Youth parents without a clue. These jerky parents are the exception, but they do stand out, especially when they open their mouths. Like the parent who started calling me and my coaches losers for walking the best player in the league in the top of the final inning of a championship softball game with runners on second and third and two outs. Yes, this game was not the World Series, but you have to start teaching strategy at some point. You can call me anything you want, but don’t yell it through the fence when I’m coaching my players. The girls started yelling back until I told them to focus on the game. That parent was classless.
■ One-source profile stories that offer few insights and comments beyond the person profiled. These story are about as illuminating as a bug light (but not nearly as interesting to watch.)
■ Players that drain treys and that sink free throws from the charity stripe.
■ Game stories that include comments from the home-town coach only. (Give me something new. Let me know how the other team views my home team and the game just played.)
■ That Dick Schaap died and no longer hosts “The Sports Reporters” on Sunday mornings. (Not that John Saunders does a poor job.) Watching Schaap was a joy and comfort, like having a conversation with my dad. Clearly, regulars on the show, like Mike Lupica and Mitch Albom, miss him as well. He's been gone for five years. Unbelievable. Every sports writer should be required to read "Flashing Before My Eyes." I’m sure he would be proud of his son, who has become a prolific writer as well. Dick Schaap was the most intelligent, insightful, and witty sportscaster/writer of his era.
■ Game stories that do not include agate. I want the game broken down into this statistical detail so I can understand the game, or event, better. Agate informs and reveals as much as the stories themselves. I know typing in results from a big track meet or from a swim meet might seem laborious, but this information is essential to anyone trying to compares times and athletes to get a senses of the game. Baseball boxscores can describe some games better than the stories themselves. Take the extra effort and include this important information.
■ ESPN’s glib approach on “SportsCenter.” (I understand sports is entertainment, but so many new sports reporters think this is the way to approach all sports writing.)
■ Sports columnists who comment on a team they have never covered or on players they have never watched. (What can a college columnist, for example, say about the Bulls that the Chicago papers have not already reported themselves?)
But I love:
■ ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight.” The hosts and analysts typically approach the day’s games with intelligence, breaking them down creatively and in great detail – and that’s especially gratifying for a baseball geek like me. They keep the focus on the game, not on the host and the analysts.
■ Spring training -- small stadiums, warm weather, more accessible players and optimism. (Heck, even the Cubs and Brewers feel they have a chance.)
■ Youth sports. I love seeing young kids get so excited that they want to play all day long. I was willing to play all day long, whether that was baseball or football or Nerf basketball or stoop ball. Last fall, a player asked me: “Coach, can we practice for three hours?” God bless her.