Saturday, July 13, 2013

A truly indecent proposal

Warning: The following article contains an offensive attitude. If you're politically correct or otherwise just plain wimpy, the author (me) suggests you stop right here. Read on at your own peril but don't say I didn't warn you.

You know what's wrong with sports these days? They've taken all the fun out of it. By that, I mean there's not enough death and destruction going on like in the old days.

Consider hydroplane racing. In times of yore, the mortality rate was high amongst the boat drivers. It was edge-of-your-seat stuff to watch them speeding around with the driver's head sticking out of the top. Yet it seemed like it was only a matter of time before even the best of them would suffer a high-speed ker-splat on the water and die of various injuries. These days, the cockpits of those boats more closely resemble those of fighter planes. All enclosed, reinforced, 5-point harnesses, emergency air supply, high-tech communications, the works. Nobody gets killed anymore. Well, that's no fun.

After Dale Earnhart Sr. kissed the wall at Daytona and went to meet the real Intimidator in the sky, NASCAR seems to have morphed from the good-ole-boys duking it out, to the limp wrist circuit. How else to explain the shock-absorbing walls at all the tracks, restrictor plates at the super speedways to slow the cars down, the head/neck devices every driver must wear, and various other so-called safety features? The problem? There's still plenty of destruction, but not enough guys are getting killed. When that used to happen, it spiced it up a tad. Ya never know when a guy might be on his last lap -- literally. Gee, that was fun to watch.

Throw Indy cars into the mix and things are just way to safe these days. Race vehicles still get splattered, but the pilots don't. Again, that takes all the fun out of it. And they wonder why attendance has nosedived at all these venues? Maybe it's because they've all became too wimpy. Seeing fiberglass, carbon-fiber, and sheet metal getting obliterated is one thing -- but nothing gets a fan's juices flowing like the possibility of a bodybag.

For that matter -- if the fans in attendance want to truly interact -- then raising and reinforcing the protective fences between the track and the crowd is the WORST thing they can do. Get rid of them entirely. If fans in attendance want to watch a high-speed race close-up and in person -- then why should they be immune from whatever carnage might occur? Hey, if tires or any other parts of wrecked race cars come zooming into the stands at 150-200 MPH and decapitate a few folks -- then so what? Chalk it up to collateral damage and race on.

Look at the NFL. They're trying to eliminate helmet-to-helmet contact. Sure, concussions are a bad thing, but why should we care? After all, the players not only know this going in, but are willing to sacrifice their heads, bodies, and everything else to make an NFL roster. It's not our fault if some of them are crippled up and have the mentality of a green bean by the time they're 50. Nobody makes them do what they do. They want to. High reward, but also high risk. It goes with the territory.

Personally, I fondly remember what former Chicago Bear linebacker and NFL Hall of Famer Dick Butkus once said. The only thing better than hitting a guy hard enough to watch his helmet go rolling down the field would be if his head was still in it. Now THAT would have been interesting.

Recently, Detroit Tiger manager Jim Leyland stormed the field with yet another of his tirades because an opposing pitcher gave one of his hitters a little "chin music". After all the antics and false bravado charades typical of baseball in such a situation died down -- the game went on as usual.

But it could have been so much more exciting. The opposing pitcher still had a baseball -- right? So when the manager of the other team comes out on the field to dispute a call -- why not wind up and give a guy like Leyland a 95 MPH heater in his ribs or backside? Can you imagine what might have happened next? Me neither, but it sure would have been fun to watch.

NHL hockey? Too many guys still have all their front teeth, and not enough stitches are involved these days. Yes, it's faster, but it's also wimpier. Anymore, those guys take dives like soccer players. Jeez, how I long for the good old days when men were men and blood was on the ice.

Of course all the above was written with tongue firmly in cheek.


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