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Monday, June 24, 2024

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Games People Play – Clueless About Late Spring Sports-6-14-2006

By Rick Racela

It’s too late for me to diversify. I can’t help it.
I’m in my mid-40s and while I’m not quite an “old-timer” I am set in my hectic ways. Life tends to account for every second and expanding something like recreational sports interests can be near impossible.
So, forgive me if I express cluelessness about a horse named Jazil and the Belmont Stakes. But even news accounts of the “third leg” of the famed Triple Crown described the contest as containing a “lackluster field.” Guess I didn’t miss anything.
A relatively aged boxer named Bernard Hopkins won what was billed as his final bout as he defeated a dude named Clark Sammartino on points. Hopkins has apparently been stepping into professional rings for two years short of two decades. To me, that’s a lot of potential for brain injury.
Pleading ignorance once again, my take on the “Sweet Science” is that it is a life-threatening exercise of barbaric origins. The sport, as in amateur boxing, includes headgear, which still allows an opponent to score points without making scrambled eggs out of a person’s brain.
Unfortunately, I must say “person” because females are becoming more and more prevalent inside the ropes. That saddens me. A woman’s place may not be in the kitchen, but it’s certainly not in the boxing ring, either. Not in my limited view, at least. I’m all for equality. Whatever activity or profession a person of any gender can perform at a high level, he or she should pursue it.
But with the lone goal being to punch someone’s lights out, I just can’t see boxing as a sport.
Being at the mid-point of my fourth decade, I did not grow up with soccer. The World Cup is obviously akin to a world religion, but I don’t get a kick out of it. The value I see is that it keeps many young people running up and down fields instead of just sitting in front of screens. That is a wonderful thing.
Scanning the World Cup scoreboard I noticed that Trinidad and Tobago tied Sweden with each team failing to score. While that puts me to sleep faster than the late Bob Ross describing one of his paintings, I can imagine a creative classroom teacher creating a geography lesson out of this global event.
The pupils could be asked to plot on a map the teams competing on the field. They could be asked to research some of the relationships between these nations. Perhaps they could find out what, if anything, these countries are famous for. That might be interesting, but watching a bunch of kicking and running across a very large piece of grass doesn’t work for me. Apologies to the growing legion of U.S. “foot-ballers.”
Someone named Justine Henin-Hardenne won the women’s French Open last weekend. The French is a professional tennis major tournament. The Belgian defeated Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova in straight sets. I can’t imagine the ratings for that event here in the States, but I guess serious net-minders everywhere were interested.
Tennis is a fine game. Athleticism matches wits with strategy and the keen eyes of the line judges. The wardrobes are always interesting, as well. But with American pros seeming more interested in stardom than winning, it’s tough to conjure up the thrills of a Connors vs. McEnroe classic. Or Billie Jean King taking on Chrissy.
As summer speeds toward us, there’s always a full compliment of golf, auto racing and cycling events to take up the vacant column inches of America’s sports pages. If those events interest you, then you’re OK. If they don’t grab your limited attention, you’re in big trouble.
Like me.
Lately I’ve caught some peeks at the respective collegiate World Series’ for men and women. That’s pretty good stuff.
The ups and downs of the Phillies can be mind-numbing and disappointing, but if there’s time, I’ll check out Harry and Wheels.
Speaking of baseball, I need to get over to a Surf game at the newly renamed “Bernie Robbins Stadium.” Haven’t had that chance yet and shame on me. It’s great, affordable sports entertainment.
The NBA draft is coming up in late June. The 76ers need more parts than an aging Ford. It’ll be interesting to see what GM Billy King does to attempt some repairs. But I’ll have to see it to believe it.
So here comes summer. And, thankfully, NFL training camp.

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