My long time buddy Matt recently reached out to me on Facebook with a pretty big sports question. It’s a question I hear from a lot of people when they find out what I do for a living. So direct from Facebook (with a few auto correct errors cleaned up) is my response which has conveniently turned into my latest blog post!
Matt: All right, Doug. I need your help. How can someone like me who grew up in the Don James/Chuck Knox/Lenny Wilkens era of Seattle sports get excited about pro or college sports these days? This is the most disinterested I’ve ever been. All I see around me is a wasteland of mediocrity and ineptitude. Am I a fair weather fan, or do you have to be a masochist to still care? Give it to me straight. I can take it…
Doug: Totally understand where you’re coming from. The era you’re talking about seemed far more genuine than the sports of today. But have the sports/ teams changed or have you?
Don James left the UW under scandal and probation. He never really answered the many questions fans had about his program. Lenny Wilkens oversaw a Sonics team that became champs during the worst era of the modern day NBA, with poor attendance, rampant drug use and horrible TV contracts (remember the NBA Finals on tape delay). As for Chuck Knox and the Seahawks, they were exciting to a city that had never had NFL success or the NFL at all for that matter. For most of the “Ground Chuck” era the Seahawks were really a 9-and-7 caliber team with no real shot at winning it all.
You didn’t mention the M’s, but I will. You should love the Mariners today, because they are the same bottom of the heap team today that we used to watch from the 300 level of the Kingdome in the 70’s and 80’s. There’s more excitement about the visiting team then the home squad. Under the current M’s upper management business plan I don’t expect changes anytime soon.
Don’t get me wrong, money has changed sports incredibly over the last 30 years. Players that make more from product endorsement than by playing the sport bring ones loyalty into question. Teams being uprooted from city to city and conference to conference in the chase for the almighty dollar ruin any sense of tradition. These things existed to a much smaller degree back in the day, we just didn’t notice it like we do now.
We see it now all the time and it has led sports to the velvet rope/nightclub concept. You can see every game now on TV or follow it someway on radio, or the internet. Sports are overexposed. If it’s not the game, it’s the Twitter reports on the off field antics of the players or the never ending opinions and over analysis 24/7. There’s no mystery to sports anymore. Which nightclub do people want to go to? The one with the open door and the everybody welcome sign or the one with the velvet rope , a line out front and a doorman only allowing a select few in at a time?
When you’re a kid, you don’t notice the machine that sports truly is. You don’t see it for all of its warts and flaws. We’re like that with most things. As we grow older we poke holes in whatever we used to take for granted. I think many who used to love sports are disappointed today, because the escapism it provided has disappeared. Sports has always had its troubles, you’re just now old enough to see them through the wins and losses