Sweetness And Light
7:03 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

Get Off My Lawn! And Other Grumblings About Sports Today

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 7:51 am

My friend the Sports Curmudgeon called me the other day: "Hey, Frank, I got a few things to get off my chest." He was about to take off on a Fantasy Fan cruise, where devoted sports buffs are drafted as fans for desperate losing teams, but he promised to text me his complaints once the ship got out to sea.

Sure enough, here came the Sports Curmudgeon's latest rants.

First, he asked, why do all newspapers and websites print so-called attendance figures, when they are abject lies? Box scores are scrupulously correct in every detail, except that what is listed as "attendance" is, instead, the number of tickets sold, not the people actually at the game. It's nonsense. If, the Curmudgeon texted me, 20 people accept an invitation to his birthday party, but only 10 bother to show up to honor him, attendance is not 20. It is 10. Exactly, attendance means being there. Sports teams lie to inflate figures, but the media should not be complicit in this deceit.

Why, the Curmudgeon railed in his next text, why do big-time tournaments in sports like golf and tennis have the nerve to depend on volunteers? Who are these suckers? The athletes are getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, even a million or more. Why should people who love the sport help run a tournament without any pay? The Curmudgeon says: Take a slice outta the millionaire players' big purses and pay the dopes who volunteer.

And speaking of golf, the Curmudgeon went on, why, in the 21st century, do professional golfers have to keep their own scorecards? Hellooooo, if we can figure out how to get minute information from a gizmo on Mars, why can't tournaments like the Masters and the U.S. Open find enough scorekeepers who can count up to 75? Free our golfers from this Victorian nonsense!

And finally, the Curmudgeon doesn't want to hear anything more about the precious Olympic movement — especially from its handmaiden, NBC. First the Olympics got rid of softball and baseball, then wrestling — sports that Americans favor. Snarls the Curmudgeon: The only movement I can see from the Olympics is movement away from the United States of America.

A later text from the Curmudgeon advised me that he had been selected in the first round as a fan of the Miami Marlins, in the third round drafted as a fan of the Northwestern basketball team and in the eighth round as a fan of whichever franchise Tim Tebow ends up with.

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Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

You know, Tom Goldman's cherry attitude reminds me that it's been a while since we heard from the Sports Curmudgeon. His confidant, commentator Frank Deford, says the Curmudgeon recently went on a vacation but even that couldn't soothe him.

FRANK DEFORD, BYLINE: My friend the Sports Curmudgeon called me the other day. Hey, Frank, I got a few things to get off my chest. He was about to take off on a Fantasy Fan cruise, where devoted sports buffs are drafted as fans for desperate losing teams. But he promised to text me his complaints once the ship got out to sea. Sure enough, here came the Sports Curmudgeons latest rants.

First, he asked, why do all newspapers and websites print so-called attendance figures, when they are abject lies? Box scores are scrupulously correct in every detail, except that what is listed as attendance is, instead, the number of tickets sold, not the people actually at the game. It's nonsense.

Hey Frank, the Curmudgeon says, if 20 people accept an invitation to your birthday party, but only 10 bother to show up to honor you, attendance is not 20. It is 10. Exactly, Curmudgeon. Attendance means being there. Sports teams lie to inflate figures, but the media should not be complicit in this deceit.

Why, the Curmudgeon railed in his next text, why do big-time tournaments in sports like golf and tennis, have the nerve to depend on volunteers? Who are these suckers? The athletes are getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, even a million or more. Why should people who love the sport help run a tournament without any pay? The Curmudgeon says: Take a slice out of the millionaire players' big purses and pay the dopes who volunteer.

And then speaking of golf, the Curmudgeon went on. Why, in the 21st century do professional golfers have to keep their own scorecards? Hello, snarls the Curmudgeon. If we can figure out how to get minute information from a gizmo on Mars, why can't tournaments like the Masters and the U.S. Open find enough scorekeepers who can count up to 75? Hey, free our golfers from this Victorian nonsense.

And finally, the Curmudgeon doesn't want to hear anything more about the precious Olympic movement - especially from its handmaiden, NBC. First, the Olympics got rid of softball and baseball, and then wrestling - sports that Americans favor. Snarls the Curmudgeon: The only movement I can see from the Olympics is the movement away from the United States of America.

A later text from the Curmudgeon advised me that he had been selected in the first round as a fan of the Miami Marlins, in the third round drafted as a fan of the Northwestern basketball team, and in the eighth round as a fan of whatever franchise Tim Tebow ends up with.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GREENE: Commentator Frank Deford, he's always our first round pick. He joins us every Wednesday from member station WSHU in Fairfield, Connecticut.

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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