“The modern era of sports.” What does this simple 5 word statement mean to you? What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you read it? Is it the bigger, faster, stronger athlete? Is it the now endless coverage available seemingly 24/7 on one of a gazillion cable or satellite channels? Is it sitting in a boat catching walleye and being able to grab your phone and instantly not just find scores, but watch live in the middle of one of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes, Christian Ponder hitting Percy Harvin for a 33 yard touchdown to cut the Lions lead to 17 (sorry, I couldn’t resist)? Is it the “WOW” factor as Josh Hamilton hits 4 homers in a game or Derek Rose shakes and bakes a cross over move on his way to a one hand slam? Is it neon colored uniforms, highlighter colored spikes, chrome helmets, and technology that makes your television screen seem more like a live window where you could reach right into the screen and touch the field of play? If so, I am guessing you’re a half full kind of person.
Or perhaps “The modern era of sports” means billion dollar owners and multi-million dollar players. Maybe it means endless stories of banned substances, holdouts, lockouts, and a parade of off field issues that could fill several seasons of COPS. Maybe it means watching the ridiculous antics and chest pumping, spastic dancing, expletive filled taunting, “Hey! Look at me” mannerisms of a player who just made a bone shaking tackle….. but only after giving up a 22 yard reception and a first down. The same mannerisms and antics that ESPN repeats the highlights of 398 times in a 5 hour span to add some warped sense of what is cool and what is nonsense. If so, I am guessing you’re a half empty kind of person.
It all seems so confusing. The world of sports has never had such an amazing pool of talent and at the same time such a cesspool of talent and want to be talent run amuck.
But wait (insert harp music here). No matter how much is in your glass, allow me Dr. Lyons (I am not actually a doctor but I have played one on the radio) the opportunity to prescribe a dose of sports medicine that can have us all smiling, enjoying, cheering, embracing the sports world we live in today. It is sports as it should be. And it has been in your back yard the whole time. No need for a 120 inch, high def, stereo surround sound television with a multi-screen that allows you to watch 37 different games at once. No need for a trip to the bank to secure a 2nd mortgage on the house so you can take the family or friends to see the Twins get thumped 11-2 by insert any team name here.
Yes, the simple medicine is as close as your favorite high school field, court, pool or any athletic facility. Yep, plain old high school sports. Just for the love of playing. Just for the pure enjoyment of competition with current friends and with soon to be new friends. No contracts, no holdouts, just a bunch of kids getting lessons in teamwork, cooperation, passion, drive, work ethic, friendship ... the list is endless. And the purity of youth saves the day. Fans need only a few bucks at most to see the spectacle live and in person. And actually, a radio or computer can offer a voice and a connection to the game even if you can’t be there in person.
Call it a shameless plug if you like but it has been a sports rebirth for me as our little corner of the radio world began creating the Metro Sports Commission just a few short years ago. People ask me all the time, “Don, you do Husky Hockey. Why are you doing these high school games?” In year one of the MSC, I don’t know, maybe that may have been my thoughts too. But it didn’t take long to get a different feeling. Call it nostalgia. Maybe it’s the way that the simple world of high school kids playing ball brought back memories of my own opportunities to play high school sports. Memories of times before I was even old enough to play needing to get to the gym with my family before halftime of the JV game if you wanted good seats to see the Varsity game.
So in closing, high school athletics, enjoy it. Revel in it. Take in as much as you can. And keep those special memories and moments in a safe little corner of your mind. Because even as the world of pro sports can seem to be an endless stream of issues and faults at times, I think if you take time to reach into that little corner of your mind you may realize that hidden in the pro sports world is a little bit of the purity of youth too. Sometimes it may be hard to see or find but it’s there. And a reminder that the Metro Sports Commission is proud, through our many sponsors, to provide exciting play by play coverage and an avenue to stay up to date and enjoy high school athletics in Central Minnesota. For one lifelong sports fan at every level, indeed the purity of youth has saved the day. Thanks kids.