By Jared Max
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On this Dec. 23, I’d like to wish you and yours a Happy Festivus!
In the spirit of George Carlin’s “Things That P-ss Me Off,” mixed with the holiday cheer made famous by Jerry Stiller, I want to air my grievances about sports (in no particular order).
As George Carlin would have said, these are people I can do without.
* Adult fans who use the pronouns “us” and “we” when referring to their favorite teams — as if they’re on the payroll — opposed to contributing to it.
“We gotta bring Messerschmidt in and pay ’em whatever he wants!” The same person often becomes one of the loudest voices to complain over the cost of attending his favorite teams’ games.
* Players who say “Man” when talking to female sports reporters. Hey buddy, is this how you talk to women? For any female sports reporter who wants to try to end this thoughtless form of acceptable conversation, consider this: The next time an athlete addresses you on-camera during a live interview saying, “Man, I just think we need to . . .”, remove the microphone from under his face and give him a good smack with it (GENTLY!) right across his bicep and say, “If your mother was here, she’d kick your butt for talking to a lady like this.” You’ll go viral and create change.
* Every stadium and arena scoreboard operator who has the option to not display a “GET LOUD” or “I CAN’T HEAR YOU” message on the JumboTron, but chooses to show it anyway. If I can’t get excited by a live sporting event that I’ve invested significant money and time (and aggravation getting to and from) to attend, my mood is unlikely to improve being made to feel like a member of the studio audience at a Barney show recording.
* Any professional sporting event that needs to be played while there is music in the background is proven less interesting to watch than every other sport where the game, itself, has yet to be deemed unworthy of one’s attention without accompanying sound effects. Is the background music for the players or fans? I always laugh when I hear players say, “Oh, we don’t even hear what’s coming from the crowd.” This is a joke, folks. They do. They let us know when they hear what they want to hear.
* Radio sportscasters who use say-nothing sound bites from players because they feel obligated to include audio in broadcasts. Every time I hear these bites (which, unfortunately is more often than not), I ask myself, “Is this clip unique to this story?” Usually, the cliche-ridden bites could be inserted after any game. When we remove the appendages, we have more room for substance.
* Sportscasters who speak without thinking if what they’re saying makes sense. “Deron Williams is out with a calf.” He is?? Sounds like D-Will is desperate. He isn’t “out with a calf.” He is out with a “calf injury.” Another one we hear: “Joe Blow won’t play for the Jets on Sunday. He has a groin.” I should hope so!
* Sports media who create buzz about Cuban and Asian baseball players (not those already in the Major Leagues) without offering detailed context of why fans should be excited about the possibility of their favorite teams investing significant money on what may be behind Door No. 3. We always hear about posting fees by teams but rarely about why a particular player’s history (unknown to the American sports public) is worthy of consideration. How many sports owners have been scammed by this game?
* Coaches and players who sign one-day contracts to retire as members of teams they spent the majority of their careers with. How cheesy. Unless it is for an extenuating circumstance, this is childish and often demeans one’s legacy. It’s okay to leave. Coming back doesn’t mean that you never left.
* As I’ve stated previously, the fact that Robbie Rogers of the MLS champion Los Angeles Galaxy is the only gay active male professional athlete in major North American sports who feels comfortable to be his true, authentic self is a heinous statement about our present. We have reached a time when sports fans are largely accepting of all kinds — be it foreign players, outspoken players, gay players. It is time for the powers that be in sport to recognize that #gaylivesmatter. It is time for the powers that be in sport to create an environment that is inviting to all players who possess the talent and ability to compete with their top-tiered colleagues.
* Speaking of scams, there are two players in New York sports who, I believe, should be carved into a local Mt.Rushmore of Greatest Sports Scam Artists. Carmelo Anthony and Alex Rodriguez. While one (the former baseball star known as A-Rod) has scammed his employer more over time than his fans, I believe, the other (the former Syracuse freshman national champion) has scammed his team’s loyal fan base worse. Until Rodriguez was exposed as a steroids cheat, it seemed most Yankees fans loved him. But, sometime around the time Yankees general manager Brian Cashman may have decided he was done being fooled by a clown for the umpteenth time, most Yankees fans seem to dismiss Alex now, too. But, Carmelo still has many Knicks faithful fooled. He still has them showing up to see one of the most expensive, fruitless sporting experiences. While James Dolan may see Carmelo as a wise business investment, I will argue until I’m blue and orange in the face that I believe far too many Knicks fans (intelligent ones, too) have been paying for 24-carat quality but have been actually buying gold-plated scrap metal for years. Like the Yankees had a chance to set Rodriguez free after he opted out of his contract during the 2004 World Series, the Knicks had the same shot to send Melo and his excuses to another team. But, they went the Yankees route. They’re paying now. And, I think more Knicks fans are starting to see the light.
Now that I’ve exercised this element of Festivus, I want to share something positive.
One of the most rewarding aspects for me in writing these blogs/columns/essays is in gaining a wealth of (arguably) worthy factoids and newsy nuggets, previously unknown. Like last week when I spent an inordiante amount of time researching time-slot information about my favorite childhood TV shows and learned that Alan Thicke composed the theme for Diff’rent Strokes, a few minutes ago I had another What’chu Talkin’ ‘Bout, Willis? moment, discovering a critical element connected to the subject of this story’s theme that I want to share.
I would have mistakenly credited Larry David with blessing us with Frank Costanza’s fictitious Seinfeld holiday if I had not researched the show. While Wikipedia tells me some of what I already knew — that Festivus is “an alternative to participating in the pressures and commercialism of the Christmas season,” I learned that this practice is not David’s creation. Festivus was celebrated as early as 1966 by writer/editor Daniel O’Keefe’s family. His son, Dan, wrote the famous Seinfeld episode.
Originally, Festivus occurred from December to May, allowing members of the O’Keefe family to respond to family tension. In this spirit, I will continue to air select grievances throughout the calendar.
Send your sports grievances to me on Twitter.
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