Sunday, June 27, 2010

Oh, shut up

Note the particularly awful case of dummy type on Thursday's Miami Herald front? Awful, as in it seems to have replaced a news story, while allowing the clueless-beyond-clueless, cliched-beyond-cliched, smarmy-beyond-smarmy column above it to work its evil magic on corneas and retinas around the nation?

This is what I hate about sports writing (yes, it's before the US defeat at the weekend, but I'm resurrecting it so as to continue ignoring the Freep's "Not Ghana happen" hed):

Did you see that? Did you call your friends? Did you hug strangers? Did you share?

Well, no. And no, no and no.

This is why we love games. This is why we invest and care and cry and scream and get angry -- for the one breathtaking moment that Landon Donovan gave us Wednesday, when a little balding guy summoned the strength to lift our big country and give the United States a 1-0 victory against Algeria to advance in the World Cup.

No kidding? The whole thing? By one little bald dude?

There is nothing better in sports than patriotism. But hope is pretty close. And winning, too.

I was going to say "make up your mind," but on second thought, don't.

Over here, bars and offices erupted with joyous noise, and grown men wept. (Oops. Missed that.) Most of life is not lived in this arena, of course. Most of life is bills and responsibilities and bosses and oil spills, and we need vacations from all that. But games, in moments like this one, allow us to exist and emote on a different and higher plane, living vicariously through that team's bond, which can grow so large that it allows us to wrap even something as big as our entire country in something as small as a single flag.

Talk about the batting-practice fastball that was not so much telegraphed as engraved on company letterhead and delivered by passenger pigeon on tortoiseback to the sound of trumpets and hautboys -- didja see it coming? Bills, responsibilities, bosses, unprecedented slow-onset ecological disaster ... we needed this one, America! And we got it!

It is why America spends so much money and invests so much more emotion on sports -- to escape, to vacation from life in this magical paradise. How often does anything outside of sports make you scream at a television (we don't watch much Fox News down at the Herald, I see) or dance around your couch or jump up and down?

Not to be rude or anything, but -- sheez, what sort of quiet desperation do you imagine your readers lead lives of? What hell must we wander through, that only the magic of sports can liberate us?

Sitting here in the very room where operatives "Boris" and "Natasha" came up to join us last year for the dismembering of the Spartans and the celebration of another title, I will not be called a sports denier. I've seen Satchel Paige pitch in spring training. I can name two defunct Chapel Hill* bars in which I saw the Tar Heels lose championship games. If I had to pick a best baseball moment, it'd be watching the 1978 AL East playoff with my best bud from high school, a shameless Bankees fan. I don't claim to be a footie maven, but I did watch most of the 2006 US-Iran World Cup match at a mobile beer garden in Dresden. It's with all that in mind that I ask if we could please -- please -- do away with the Relieve our Sordid Misery routine?

No, I don't really think there's much a copy editor could have done about this. But if sweet reason isn't going to work, at least we could try public ridicule.

* All right, one in Chapel Hill and one (Bullwinkle's) in Carrboro.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any idea if the dummy story made it into the dead-tree edn?
(It's a pity the Newseum images expire so soon...)

1:14 AM, June 28, 2010  
Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

Funny, I'd say there's not a whole lot worse than "patriotism in sports"...

4:36 PM, June 28, 2010  

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