During the last week, I found myself remembering something Howard Cosell purportedly said about sports. Essentially, it’s only just a game AND it’s more than just a game. The protests by athletes across the sports world spoke to the power that they have, power that suggests sports is more than just a game. But the near-cancellation of the NBA playoffs in the face of both far more serious matters and players starting to tire of life in the bubble says that the games might be utterly meaningless, possibly the last thing anyone should be thinking about.
So I was left wondering how much we should invest in sports, and not for the first time. I love sports. I know that sometimes we need a diversion. And sometimes we don’t. I know that the way sports is run is often unfair, exploitative, racist and sexist and homophobic and hateful. If someone woke up last week and said, “you know what, maybe we shouldn’t be playing, or watching, not now and maybe not ever,” I am not sure they would be wrong. But once the NBAPA decided to find a way to both strive for social justice and return to the court, I returned with them. I am just not sure how much time anyone wants to spend talking about sports right now.
And yet Sports Corner is back, and I hope people are up for at least a little sports talk.
I will add that this week’s post is dedicated to the memory of John Thompson. A literal giant of the college basketball world, he was the coach who recruited Patrick Ewing, one of my all time favorites, to Georgetown. So when my friends were rooting for St. John’s – which is only two miles from me – I was all in on ‘Town. But Thompson’s legacy is bigger than just one winning team. He used his position to stand against racism and abuse of power, protesting the unfairness of Prop 48 by staging a walkout, recruiting Allen Iverson after Iverson’s unfair and racist prison sentence was commuted. I don’t know whether Thompson was aware of what was going on last week – there has been no public comment about what was ailing him – but I like to think he was watching the news, and wishing he could be there with the players. Because in a way, he was.