A buffet of issues at my newly discounted price

December 13, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

I took another step in becoming a full-fledged adult the other day.

Birthdays are scary that way. As the numbers get bigger, you get different labels - child, teenager, grownup, middle-aged, senior and then, Oh my God.

Let's just say I took a small step for my demographic classification, one giant leap for my AARP card.

The funny thing about birthdays, though, is they are a time to add to perspective. For some reason, you get a lot of free time on your hands ... and when that happens, the mind tends to wander.

In that moment of going though the obligatory "What have I accomplished in my life?" sequence, I found I still had 45 seconds left to think about some sporting issues that were kind of rolling around in my gray-matter attic.


Hey, it was my party and I'll pry if I want to ...

  • Is it just me or has SportsCenter become a complete waste of time?

I sit there with my prune juice and bran muffin (age indicator) and tune in for my current sports events update. Their idea of Top 10 Plays of the Day is tougher to swallow than my muffin.

Instead of amazing feats of athleticism, it has become a collection of run-of-the-mill dunks and 3-point baskets. Now, instead of showing the extraordinary, it cheers any guy who can jump or make a jump shot.

Then again, not many basketball players can make jump shots anymore.

  • The game of basketball is becoming more ridiculous every day. Simple athletic integrity (i.e. Ron Artest and Latrell Spreewell) is gone and the game itself couldn't be more boring to watch.

In the NBA, defensive stance isn't the crouched side-stepping stance that made players look like Larry the Lobster. Nowadays, the stance looks more like Carl Lewis getting in the starting blocks for the 100-meter dash. The ball goes up and the sprint to the other end is on.

Here's a quick birthday notion that will continue to have Dr. Naismith rolling in his grave.

The league has done everything to enhance scoring and still has trouble getting professional players to score more than 75 points in the game. Let's change the scoring a little.

How about making dunks worth one point, 3-pointers worth two and shots inside the arc worth three points? It might make the 12-foot jump shot an important weapon again.

Please humor the old guy.

  • The University of Maryland football season was a disappointment to everyone.

After the Terps had done so much to rejuvenate the program, they hit a bump in the road. So much for "WE MUST PROTECT THIS HOUSE."

I'm as big a fan of Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen as anyone. I think he's done so much in so little time to improve the Terps and is genuine in his intent.

But in the same notion, I think Friedgen may have gotten lost in the ego that is a part of all successful coaches. Prosperity made him believe that he could make a player fit his system as opposed to making the system fit his player.

Friedgen is an offensive whiz who has used his style to help get the San Diego Chargers to a Super Bowl and make Georgia Tech a dangerous college team. He showed what he could do in his first three years at Maryland with Shaun Hill and Scott McBrien with the same system.

But last season, Joel Statham - a player who was highly recruited by Friedgen while the coach was at Georgia Tech - took over and didn't respond to the offensive style. There was so much time invested in Statham and the offense, it was difficult to walk away from it all.

Friedgen went with Sam Hollenbach at quarterback in 2005, but the Terps were unable to overcome the same growing pains.

It has been tough for Maryland fans to swallow, but no tougher than it has been for Friedgen.

  • Can anyone tell me how the premier coaches of our time - Joe Gibbs, Joe Paterno, Bobby Knight, John Thompson and Bill Parcells to name a few - have gone from geniuses to broken-down pretenders in the course of a couple of years?

I think it's another statement in the direction sports is heading. All those coaches were disciplinarians who believed in team and precision. Today's athletes have the tendency to hate discipline and love individualism.

Coaches are becoming day-care providers with whistles and clipboards.

  • In the old days, coaches were teachers at their high school. They have gone the way of Barney.

Teacher/coaches see the lack of pay for the amount of time they need to invest along with disrespectful players and even more disrespectful fans and parents as too steep of an investment for the minimal return.

That leaves the system with volunteer coaches, who are well meaning but not trained to handle the level of competition in some cases. Not all minor leaguers make the major leagues.

Volunteer coaches only see the players at practice and games, where teacher/coaches see the players as students in school. Having coaches on-site adds to the discipline and organization of the team.

Volunteer coaches allow high school athletics to survive. But you have to wonder if everyone prospers from the experience in the same way as athletes did in days gone by.

Well, that's about it. It's time for me to take advantage of my $2 off at a local buffet.

Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Morning Herald. His column appears every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2311, or by e-mail at

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