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Lying about sports

By Bernard Chapin
web posted October 20, 2003

Loving sports was natural for me. When I was four years old I witnessed my first Super Bowl and I've been hooked every since. Being a fan adds immense coloration to your days, and it's true whether you're watching classic tapes of Jimmy Connors or the current saga of Bill Parcells coaching another team and accomplishing the impossible one more time.

Sport is a respite from the uncertainties of life. In competition, all becomes clear after a few fifteen or twenty minute intervals; whereas, practically nothing else in the world ever is. Bowls, cups, and series provide the closure lacking in other locales.

Yet, I believe that something has happened to the portrayal of sports since I was a boy. It, like many other areas of our culture, is being professionally subjected to the doctrines of political correctness (what Paul Hollander defines as the "adversarial culture"). Certainly, there is no reason why this should be so, as sports fans, whether liberal or conservative, are some of the least politically correct people in the United States.

PC has no place in the sports world. Its demands are antithetical to the demands of competition. Sports are not something we have to think about. Fans become transfixed by a game even if we do not know one thing about the athletes participating. There is no need to look for hidden meaning or messages. Stellar performances stand by themselves.

However, it appears that some of the media who provide commentary for MLB, the NBA, the NFL and the NHL do not understand that the average sports fan is not even remotely interested in their cultural revolutions. They also forget that most fans are men. We are not the types of humans who tune in or sit in bleachers during a thunderstorm to support diversity, multiculturalism, radical feminism or whatever other malarkey the self-flagellators fabricate. What we support is far more important that fads or distortions. We are fans for the love of the game and the teams that represent us.

The "sports as therapy" paradigm can be discerned in the way the WNBA has been marketed. It remains on television even though I do not know one man or woman who has ever watched a game or even knows the names of its teams. The general public has been force-fed a politically correct fetish thinking it a league. The WNBA and its poor ratings have no business being on television, but they'll always be visible as a "cause." It, and its twelfth tier competition, is in fact a sham. Let's stop looking the other way and call a joke a joke.

The same is true of Mia Hamm and the Women's World Cup of Soccer. To many this event screamed "Girl Power!" but to me it merely displayed how much under the spell of trendy ideologues we are. This is just another occasion to disguise inferior play as being a "noble cause." Nonsense on the whole. "Cause" has nothing to do with why people watch sports. If the networks don't pay more attention to the opinions of their fans then they will be replaced by new networks that do.

With women in general, the media paints lies in thick, oily strokes. They love to use the people as their canvas when they do. The tragedy for the media is that the people they are trying to impress are not the one's watching the games or reading their columns. If journalists wish to add something to the Public Sports Square, they should abandon their attempts to win friends with The New York Times editorial board and instead start reflecting the views of the normal fans who actually increase their ratings or subscribership.

Speaking of the NYT, the paper of dogma, I heard the other day that they came out and publicly stated that they were rooting against the Yankees in their series with the Boston Red Sox. In my mind, there is no better example of what is wrong with sports media than that the world famous NYT would take such a position. No legitimate paper with any knowledge of fan psychology would ever, and I mean ever, allow such a statement. [My view is not personal as I was cheering for the Red Sox].

Even though the Red Sox were a wonderful story, the NYT has forgotten that sports is about loyalty. Their support of the Red Sox crossed a line that fifty years ago was unthinkable. A fan cheers for his team whether their winning or losing. We don't run and we don't hide. The last thing we'd ever do is let public sentiment interfere with our lust for victories. I cannot imagine any Yankees fans continuing to buy such a paper, but, perhaps, the real baseball supporters gave up on that effete, leftist daily long ago.

No saying embodies more the position of my fellow fanatics than the one from a legendary motorcycle gang: "Your brother's not always right, but he's always your brother." No more truthful words can be spoken. That's what separates sports fans from everybody else.

Here in Chicago, the reverse occurred. Every person you meet on the street suddenly became a long lost Cub fan. Oh, they'll say that they've been that way for 30 years, even though, for personal acquaintances, you never heard them say one word about baseball before this summer. Now that they lost, their conformo-fans can go back to watching their sit-coms until the Bulls resurrect a 1992 version of Michael Jordan.

The Bulls are another excellent example of the herd phenomenon. I used to meet scores of women proclaiming to be Bulls fans. Oh, they knew all the players, watched every game, called them "Scottie" or "Mike", and described themselves as being "the biggest Bulls fans ever." After 1998, I never met another one.

Actually, over the last five years, I have not heard one woman even mention the Chicago Bulls. It'll be the same with the Cubs today when I get to work.

My friend Johnny Q-bacca [nickname is due to his hirsute nature] is a fan's fan. He drove up to Wrigley Field on his motorcycle wearing his White Sox jersey. He did it solely to taunt all the yuppies after the Cubs lost. I am not certain if he made it through the night or what condition he currently is in, but I do know that, to him, dying for the White Sox would be an end in itself.

Johnny is an excellent role model for young boys to follow. In 1999, when he heard I was dating a Packers fan, he greeting me on the phone with a simple sentence: "You f---ing traitor." I knew what he meant and later, when she showed up at my apartment wearing a $400 Packer leather coat, I thought, "This has to stop. Even a body like hers isn't worth this kind of public humiliation."

Brothers, together we can set these Nancy boys straight about sports. Our games are not valued by today's culture, but the pleasure and honor they bring cannot be found elsewhere. Sports is about us versus them. That's what makes it so beautiful. To treasure sport is to embrace human nature as it contains all of our energy, fear, hostility, and love. There is no middle ground. There is no remediation, no equivocation, and no consensus building. Sports are atop an obelisk situated miles above all the human relations stuff we are burdened with morning, noon, and night. It is a sacred venture that should not be contaminated by relativists and PC poseurs. Let's take a stand and keep it that way.

Bernard Chapin is a writer living in Chicago. He can be reached at bchapafl@hotmail.com.

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