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Goodbye Sports Radio

November 12, 2013

There was a time when all I knew about my sports heroes was that they were very good at throwing and catching balls, and that was enough. I was twelve years old.

During my twenties my sports enthusiasm waned, but over the last decade it’s resurfaced as a harmless alternative to news about the real world. At times the way we’ve stewarded this planet has depressed me to the point that I’ve needed to ignore it just to maintain my equilibrium, and have turned to sports entertainment as an escape. Older and wiser, I know that none of it matters.

So, as I’ve commuted between jobs in the city of Portland, I’ve taken to listening to sports radio. It’s a good way to stay up-to-date about scores and highlights, injuries, and breaking news in the various associations around the country. I’ve gone as far as to call in from time to time and offer my perspective. It’s a harmless interaction and helps me feel I’m part of a community. There’s just one problem.

I’ve learned too much about the people behind the uniforms.

It’s hard to respect ball players if you know they’re racists, bullies, and homophobes. It’s hard to root for convicted sex criminals. It’s hard to stand behind an organization that sells its stadium naming rights to a health care agency – and hands out free McDonalds certificates after games. It’s hard to believe anyone in sports cares about anything but the money anymore.

Someone I respect once said, “It is never safe to assume that an artist is anything like his art.” The same goes for athletes, who are, when you break it all the way down, also entertainers.

I rejoined the sports world to escape, not to get dragged into the fire. But this past week I’ve discovered it’s not possible. When I heard one football player explaining that it was normal for him and his friends to communicate via death threats and racial slurs and that this is no way made them bullies, I knew the time had come to step away. That man needs psychiatric evaluation, not a multi-million dollar paycheck.

Pandora’s box may be indelibly opened by now, but I’m going to try putting the lid back on it anyway. No more sports radio for me. From now on I’ll admire my teams from a distance, knowing them for what they are – a distraction.

And I won’t give them a damn penny.

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From → Rants

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