By Harry Cummins
I love sports as much as the next person. Actually, maybe a bit more than the next person. Top shelf sports have long been a dominant form of entertainment in my life, always providing shelter from any surrounding storm clouds.
Many of those cloistered years were spent in press boxes chronicling the exploits of the greatest athletes of our generation. I had fun.
I once occupied a coveted end seat on press row during the infant days of the ABA. During timeouts, I could lean in nightly to listen to the colorful celebrity coach Wilt Chamberlain trying to explain to his San Diego Conquistadors how they might best share a red, white and blue basketball among themselves. Back then, sports were simple and joyful. As Wilt already knew, you didn't need to explain too many things.
Things have changed, especially in this Year of The Great Exchange, 2020. Analytics running amok in an age of anxiety. The incessant need to justify one's actions are now nudged by the need to understand a common good. Our distractions need to be carefully selected, as they now come with greater consequences.
Frankly, I can't understand why we are playing high level sports at all right now. Sure, I get the money thing. Still, the unraveling of all these excuses, the unjust application of restrictions across teams and leagues, hardly seems worth the time trying to make sense of it on paper. It doesn't make sense, at least to this aging sportswriter.
With this pandemic spewing so much division and destruction, and causing so much suffering, I can no longer find the same solace in so many of my former pursuits. Hospitalization and infection rates have overtaken scoring averages when seen thru the keyhole of 2020.
Right now, I am having difficulty watching games on TV, contested in front of cardboard cutouts and masked witnesses. These days, I find myself doing what writers have always done best..gazing out a nearby window.
During this past week, I have seen and heard a great deal out that window. All the melodies that were never missing. All the choices we retain during this pandemic. This much is true:
A tomboy in the next block with pig-tails who throws perfect spirals.
Twin sisters across the street, racing the length of the sidewalk in shrieking abandon.
The neighborhood mailman on his appointed rounds, a pied-piper throwing down dog biscuits on the pavement like an NHL ref drops a puck for a face-off.
Winter yard-birds plucking the last holly berries from a thorny bush, skyward with their hard-won rewards.
An elderly lady in a walker, thru serious effort, never surrendering her daily stroll.
An odd game of croquet down the street..the 'thack' of a mallet striking a plastic ball in syncopation with a roofer's hammer nearby.
Everyday a beginning. Everyday an end.
Elegance within reach. Right now.
Rick Lowell illustration