The hardest part of maintaining my childlike love and awe of sport is the constant reminders – not that the players are human – but that they are not very good humans.
I get how possibly hard it is for professional athletes to develop real character and balance in a world which tells them from the time they can walk and hit or shoot or throw a ball that not only is everything they do ok – but that it is fan-frickin’-tastic. But, is it too much to hope that just one time an athlete will put up his hand and say, ‘Sorry, that was me. My foul.’ ?
Now I am not a Pat’s fan – but as a football fan you have to respect how the Pat’s generally do things. Likewise for their likeable QB Tom Brady – if you are a fan of the game – you gotta like Tom (Jet’s, Bills and Dolphin’s fans you’re excused here being in their division – as are Seahawks, Eagles, Panthers and Rams who lost Super Bowls to ‘em, you’re excused too). This week though the Pat’s and their likeable quarterback have been a little harder to like.
As a teenager it was a huge jump to go from playing pickup basketball with my buddies after school to being invited out to play ‘Men’s Ball’ on Thursday nights. One of the coolest parts being invited to play ‘Men’s Ball’ was how they called the games. At ‘Men’s Ball’ the defensive player called the foul. You fouled someone – you put your hand in the air and said, ‘Sorry, that was me. My foul. I got him.’ The defensive guy always knows they got him.
Now it wasn’t perfect. There was always ‘that guy’ who never fouled anyone despite regularly fouling everyone. But it was cool that ‘that guy’ was the exception and not the rule. For me it became a mark of honor to raise my hand and call myself out for being a step slow or moment early. Honor not for being a step slow or moment early – but for owning it.
Professional sports today do not seem to be played by the same kind of ‘Men’ that played ‘Men’s Ball’ in that gym on Thursday nights so very long ago. It seems to have lost that sense of honor in owning up when you are a step slow or a moment early or much, much worse. Today despite damning video evidence to the contrary athletes consistently argue on and off the field, no matter the infraction, that they did nothing wrong.
Perhaps some of this is on us for so consistently telling our heroes that everything they do is so very right.
But from steroids to PEDs, from crab legs to hotel security cameras all the way to Tom Brady’s soft balls – just once it would be refreshing to see one of these guys put there hand up in the air and say, ‘Sorry, that was me. My foul.’