Sports – Schwartz!

altCall me un-American, call me a wimp, I don’t care. I don’t give a hoot about sports in general, and I’m not even sure why people watch football of all things.

To me it’s about as pointless and as big a waste of time as watching soap operas. It might even be bad for you.

Is the attraction some kind of tribal thing, some need to belong to something outside yourself?

Television is a guilty pleasure itself. If I’m going to sit and do nothing and watch it, I prefer to learn something in the process. I favor documentary and news, which is indeed stranger than fiction. Rather than watch some mindless sit-com, I’d rather be practicing on the piano.

Maybe that’s part of my disconnect; many musicians and artistic types in general don’t relate to sports. Music in particular is not competitive; it’s more co-operative. We don’t know who the Aztec champs were, but we do know about their art.

It could be also that my coordination is more in my fingers than in my body. I was a pudgy, clumsy kid and the last to be chosen. I could run, I could bat OK, but I never could throw a ball very far at all. Even now, I can’t throw anything across my yard with any accuracy. It wasn’t until I was almost thirty that I discovered why. I had a spinal injury between my shoulders at age ten or so that impinges the nerves to my arm. When I throw a ball, it often causes immediate pain.

I also saw a guy die on the field at a football game when my sister was in high school. He had a ruptured spleen. That didn’t seem fun at all; dying to get a ball across a line.

And look at old athletes; washed up at thirty, even if they did turn pro, and too ignorant to do anything else because they were passed through school just so they could be on the team. One kid in a million ends up playing for money, yet so many dream of it. The odds are worse than in music.

I can still go out at night and play piano and make some extra bucks. I don’t see any jocks my age doing that.

Old friends accept the fact that I am Ye Compleat Sports Ignoramus. I’m more careful with new acquaintances. If someone asks which nose tackle got the most touchbacks I have the urge to say “I don’t even know how football is played – let alone why.” They might then look at me suspiciously as if perhaps I’m wearing a teddy under my clothes.

But I do have a head for trivia. I forget what day the trashmen come but I can tell you The Beach Boys’ publisher. I might do well with stats – if I was interested. I was about to win against a table of bright Trivial Pursuit players. When you get your last wedge, your opponents get to pick the subject of the final question.

My friend Dan announced “I know his Achille’s Heel – sports. Aha! What is Kareem Abdul Jabars’s given name?”

“I hate to tell you this, but it’s Lou Alcindor.” I smirked. You never know when some useless fact night come in handy.

About the author: Jim Downing is a lifelong musician and music historian. He has written and been published in countless publications over the past 30 years. His father was a columnist for the old Tulsa Tribune who wrote Downing’s Street