The Don’t Care Anymore Factor

January18/ 2000

… “The Sport of Kings” AND “The Sweet Science” both staged premier events this past weekend …. And I didn’t care a bit. …. I wasn’t boycotting either in some indignant protest over Algore or The N&O or over anything….. I simply didn’t care…. I used to care about such BIG sports events….. Wonder why our tastes change? …. It got me to thinking about what sports events I do still care about …. And why.

“The Kentucky Derby !!!! ….. arguably one of THE premier annual events in American sports culture.  Like The Masters and The Indianapolis 500, it’s one of those “always at the same storied venue” events that might be on most folks “someday I want to see _____” list.  If a good friend called and offered me a ticket with him, I expect I would graciously accept and enjoy the event and his company.  It’s Wednesday after “the run for the roses” and I don’t know who won or care.

I don’t know a thing about thoroughbred racing.  I have been to a few racetracks but not many and not inclined to go again.  I saw the movie Seabiscuit and I like that trumpet call they do right before the race.  The horses are big, have odd names and the jockeys are little guys …. and the owners are fru-fru sorts.  Even when there is a chance for a “Triple Crown” I am not compelled to make it a point to watch. ….. but I’m fine with it all going on for the folks who do care.  ….. the same way I feel about professional bass fishing and the World Series of Poker.

A “Big Fight in Las Vegas” must be a BFD for many folks.  I have heard of Oscar De La Hoya because its one of those lyrical names that is fun to say …. Like Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario.  I had no knowledge of Floyd Mayweather Jr.  Heck, I even missed the whole Roy Jones Era of boxing.  Are Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvelous Marvin Hagler still fighting every 60 days …. What about Thomas “Hitman” Hearns?  If Roger Clemens can still pitch and draw Social Security at the same time, where are the Spinks brothers and Evander and Carmen Basilio.  Didn’t Carmen Basilio fight Gene Fullmer every Friday night on Gillette Cavalcade of Sports.

I would certainly attend a “Big Fight in Las Vegas” just for the celebrity spectacle of it all.  I’d like to see Beyonce I think.  I’ve never been invited … I probably won’t be.  I’m OK with that.  I hear that the only real difference between boxing and professional wrestling is that boxers wear gloves.  Everything is predicated on “rematches” and milking every situation for some faux psycho-drama.

I hear the current heavyweight champion is some big Russian dude.  I thought Rocky Balboa beat him years ago.  Shows how much I pay attention to boxing. …. I met pro wrestler Abe Jacobs once.  He was excited that I remembered his signature hold  – The Kiwi Roll.

I have seen a World Series … Super Bowl …. Final Four … Daytona 500 …. The Masters on my own list of Big Events.   Once local teams are out of The Dance I lose interest.  I watched ten minutes of Florida v OSU in an airport bar.  I do watch the BCS Championship game ….. so far.

I have never seen an Olympics but had the chance in Atlanta but decided not to.  The last several Olympics have been Unmemorable.  Mary Lou Retton at Peter Uberroth’s games in LA was about the last compelling Olympic memory I have.  I was working with a guy named Craig at the time and Mary Lou ignited some definite pedophile urges in him.

Three personal sports memories top my list.  In December 1968 I found myself standing at mid-court in Madison Square Garden.  Dean’s boys were playing in The Holiday Festival and we were supposed to meet Lew Alcindor’s Bruins in the Finals.  We got beat by St John’s in the semis but I recall standing on the mid-court logo in pre-game for that St John’s game and thinking “The Garden … this is quite cool!”.

Almost exactly a year later I was standing at midfield for The Orange Bowl as a staff member of Dan Devine’s Missouri Tigers playing Joe Paterno’s Nittany Lions.  We lost that game too but just being there and down on the field was quite cool.

In the early 90s I took a busload of folks to Augusta for The Masters.  The first time I walked down Magnolia Drive and out onto the course was also “quite cool”.  Augusta National at Masters time is (or was as least for me) EXACTLY like I wanted it to be.  Very few events, places (or people) meet that qualification …. EXACTLY like I wanted it to be!

The 4th of my Top Three memories was being “there” when Darryl Dawkins shattered his first backboard with a thunder dunk vs Kansas City Kings.  It was NOT in Kemper Arena.  It was in the same building where UNC beat Kansas in ’57.

I’ve never been to Wimbledon.  That’s probably a cool event to say one has been to.  I would go there if I had the chance.

I have attended 32 NASCAR races in my life.  I was paid to attend each one of them but was glad to go until the last 4-5 for which “the thrill” had gone.  My first NASCAR race was in Charlotte.  That was cool.  The “best races” are Bristol.  I’ve seen five of those.  Texas races were fun …. For a while.  EVERYONE who considers themselves a “sports fan” should see at least one NASCAR race.  The sensory experience is unmatched in sports especially the start.  I don’t much care any more for crowds and really loud noise …. NASCAR races involve crowds and lots of really loud noise.

As far as regular game events, NOTHING beats major league baseball for me IF I am with good company.  Major League parks are quite cool and baseball does not require you to pay attention to every play.  MLB games smell, sound and look good.

I have such minimal interest in the NBA that I might turn down freebies for an NBA game.  Even for a Lakers home game.  I’ve met Jack Nicholson and I don’t think Dyan Cannon still goes very often.

I could have attended every Panther home game free last year but didn’t see a one.  I follow how they do but hardly with bated breath.  Sorry Mick.  As for a Bobcats game, you’d have to pay me in cash up-front, put me in a suite with unlimited shrimp and nachos AND let me bring a new Clive Cussler book and my IPod.

Local College Football games …. OK, they rank with MLB and maybe even a bit ahead.  Hard to beat “the color and pageantry” especially including tailgating with good friends on a crisp Autumn Saturday.  Unless it’s raining, I ALWAYS enjoy college football win or lose.  For both Kenan and Carter-Finley I know “how” to attend a game to avoid the hassles. …..

…. But it’s not the same with basketball …. Unless I’m with some good friends like Prince Albert, Danny, Jackie, Mike or BeoWolf, I’d rather watch it on TV.

My first PGA Tour event was around 1967 …. The GGO at Sedgefield.  Dave Stockton was leading going into the final round.  He snaphooked his drive off #1 and lost the lead.  Being able to be so close to the competitors was a thrill.  Alas, that thrill dissipated over the years too.

I have tried to generate personal interest pro or con about Barry Bond’s quest.  I have not been successful in doing so.  I thought Cal Ripken’s Iron Man quest was more compelling.

My idea of the ultimate sports fantasy would be hitting a game-winning homer in a “big game” in Yankee Stadium like George Brett did against Goose Gossage.  Ann-Margaret catches the ball and has me autographed it for her. ….. THAT WOULD BE QUITE COOL!


 A BobLee HUZZA to ….. UNC’s John Montgomery and The Rams Club.  We explained how they goofed on the recent Tar Heel Tour event at The Legend’s Lair.  Unlike Charles Manson, O.J., The N&O, any bureaucrat, and 99.9% of all politicians …. Monty admitted they “goofed” in a letter to all attendees offering to refund their $35 or apply it to their account.  They tried a new concept.  It didn’t work. Everyone makes mistakes …. Very few individuals or institutions have the character and integrity to admit it.   John Montgomery has LOTS of it.


 Who’s fists were nicknamed “Thoonder & Lightning”?


    Hawkeye Pierce was from Crabapple Cove.  Jessica Fletcher lived in Cabot’s Cove.

   Our Savaging of Pompous Ryan generated several e-mails from his N&O co-workers claiming we were “too easy” on him.  Apparently he and a few of his fellow “reporters” are quite the arrogant puppies.  I am SHOCKED to hear that …. “arrogance at The N&O”! … say it ain’t so!

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