Taking a hike on the road to realization

February 21, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

Why don't you take a hike?

I've been told that more times than I'd like to admit lately, but it seemed like the right thing to do Monday.

It seemed like a good way to get past my block-and-tackle problem. I had writer's block and a weight problem to tackle.

So, here I was, looking like a hamster in one of those wheels, walking on a treadmill. Talk about going nowhere I walked for 45 minutes and ended up in the same spot where I started.


While walking on that treadmill, I knew how the Orioles, Ravens, Pirates, Capitals, Wizards and Texans all feel. They all seem to be marching in place, waiting for that light at the end of the tunnel to shine. I also identify with the anguish of guys like Miguel Tejada and Ray Lewis, who are used to winning and have trouble waiting for the success to come back.

According to Bob Dylan, the times they are a-changin' and here are a couple of notions - products of my march to nowhere.

Time is a cycle.

For many years, any Hagerstown Community College-Allegany College basketball game was considered the hottest ticket of the winter. For the better part of a half-century, excitement in Western Maryland was generated just by the idea of the Hawks and Trojans taking the floor.

After sitting on the peak of the Maryland JuCo Conference for so long, the two premier programs seem to be sliding down the backside of the mountain.

The rivalry was rekindled Saturday with another close game with playoff implications, but it wasn't the same.

The crowd was only one-third the size of yesteryear. The tension seemed overstretched. Instead of playing for top tournament seeds, both were vying to stay in favorable position in the top eight.

Time has taken away the rivalry's two central characters - coaches Jim Brown and Bob Kirk - through retirement. Together, they built this matchup into a showcase.

Instead, the loudest cheer of the night was HCC's bench chanting, "Defense." Fans quietly attended the game because of loyalty instead of interest.

Many point fingers to why it isn't the same, starting with the lack of media coverage. That's not it. The product of compelling characters and interesting basketball sells itself.

Without them, time takes its toll and rivalries die. And then time hands the mantle of frontrunner to other teams who have waited their turn.

Time heals all wounds.

But not in the case of the Super Bowl. And because of it, anyone who wears stripes not only has bad fashion sense, but is part of an endangered species.

Officiating has become a huge controversy because of the Super Bowl. It's been two weeks since the game and people are still yapping about calls.

Here's a news flash. It's over. Forget about it. It's called history now. It's now called a lesson; because it's the starting point to fixing any problems.

Instant replay has dropped the IQ of referees. Since every game has 29 camera angles - and enormous amounts of money invested in and bet on it - refs are born to be stupid.

First, each play is shown from 15 different angles. Monday morning line judges see it in slow motion, all dissecting the decision of a guy who had one angle and a split second to decide.

There is never a camera to show it from the exact angle that was seen by the ref.

The amazing part, though, is how fans at other sporting events - like high school basketball games - automatically translate it into the idea that all referees are inept. I don't know how many geniuses have yelled, "Did you work the Super Bowl?" at games already.

Notion: Buy a whistle and put your self-esteem to the test on the field if you think you can do it better. It's easier to complain.

Time changes perspective.

Time has changed Bode Miller. The United States' best known skier is becoming a widely known fleer.

Suddenly the spotlight has become too hot for Miller, who hasn't done well on the slopes or in interviews. Suddenly, his problems are now everyone's fault but his own.

"Fame is almost a poison. I couldn't care less, in fact I lived better when I was a nobody," Miller said recently. "Sport is born clean and it would stay that way if it was the athletes who ran it for the pleasure of taking part. But then the fans and the media intervene and finish up by corrupting it with the pressure that they exercise."

Miller craved the spotlight. He chose the world stage for his sport. He accepted money for endorsements and exposure. In that process, he was given the weight of a country's hopes in his back pocket.

He admitted SWI (skiing while intoxicated) and let the pressure of his comments and actions knock him off course. He allowed the sand in his "15 minutes of fame" egg timer to hit bottom.

Maybe it's time for Bode - and a few others - to take a hike on the treadmill of reality.

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. 2310, or by e-mail at

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