Catching up on some sports stories.
I had a chance to cover a big high school sports milestone last week, but weather kept me from doing it. The coach of one of the softball teams we cover was on the verge of his 600th career win, the most in state history. Twice I had assignments to cover the big win, and twice it poured and rained the games out. He got the win on Friday while I was at the girls’ soccer practices. Oh well.
Good for Jason Collins. Five years ago, or even two, I think I would have written 1000 words about his coming out. But it feels like we’ve come so far in that short span and gays and lesbians, while not exactly embraced by the rest of society, at least have enough acceptance where their fundamental rights as taxpaying citizens in a free society are recognized. I don’t know if the change has been real acceptance, or just the folks who find “gayness” to be weird/ugly/gross based on their personal tastes rather than some religious/moral reasoning have learned to keep quiet. Anyway, I think we’re pretty close to events like Jason Collins or Brittney Griner coming out not being that big of a deal for most Americans.
There was a fantastic piece about Allen Iverson in the Washington Post a week ago. It may come as no surprise to some of you, but his life is a complete mess. To the point where you wonder if he’s going to make it.
Anyway, it kicked off a conversation with my buddy E-bro in ATX about who the most hated superstar in recent memory is. We agreed that A-Rod is probably the only real rival to AI, although as E-bro said, A-Rod is just kind of a douche where AI triggered all kinds of latent (and not so latent) racism in lots of white folks.
He also pointed out that Kobe was awfully close after he was accused of rape. But I think that was for far more legitimate reasons than the hate AI and A-Rod generated. Mike Tyson hits that, too, although I think a lot of people viewed him as a freak show once the docile personality he presented in his early days faded away.
And then there’s Tim Tebow. He is different because he’s not been a superstar in the NFL, but has been the most talked about player since his arrival in the league. He pushes the exact opposite hot buttons that Iverson hit: he’s very white, very religious, very pious. And like Iverson, I think Tebow engenders as much love as hate. He’s just not the best at his sport, which makes all the buzz around him a bit silly.
For the record, I was always conflicted about Iverson. I could have cared less about the tattoos, braids, etc. He was an unbelievable ballplayer who played his ass off during the 48 minutes of just about every game in his career. I always thought that part of him was awesome. But he was clearly already battling demons back then, and the way he lived his life off-the-court wasn’t necessarily the way you would want your kids to live. In other words, he’s human and full of flaws and contradictions. He wasn’t a superman, like Michael Jordan, who kept his foibles and failures hidden behind an iron wall that the media refused to look over.
While we’re on the NBA, I wish I could say I had been watching the playoffs. I was doing well with the Pacers this year, until the NCAA tournament started. That got me off my regular viewing schedule and I’ve never really recovered. Throw in their late-season swoon and I haven’t made the first four games of their series with Atlanta must-see TV. But with the series at 2-2, I may have to start watching.
I did watch some of the Denver-Golden State game Sunday night. I knew Seth Curry had carved out a nice career in the NBA, which was surprising enough. But I had no idea how good he was. He was flipping no-look, finger-tip passes across the court. Tossing side-armed alley-oops. Making steals on the break. And generally looked like a fantastic NBA player. Which I never saw coming. I figured his shooting would keep him in the league for awhile, but I figured he was a step too slow and not physical enough to really emerge as a star. I think he has a little Iverson in him, in that his athletic ability and pure will get him past some of his physical limitations.