PARASILITI: Sports used to be easier to inhale

November 13, 2011|By BOB PARASILITI |
  • Bob Parasiliti
Bob Parasiliti

I’m a big picture guy.

Anyone who knows me well knows I live by the philosophy that when something goes wrong, take a step back, take a deep breath and look at the big picture.

Sometimes decisions are clouded by emotions that lead to snap judgments. Quick fixes without considering other options usually impact the future, too.

Usually, if I step out of the middle of the problem and breathe to buy a little time to calm myself, I’m able to imagine a sensible solution. It’s gotten me this far.

For the last couple of months, though, I admit I’ve had problems with that big picture. No matter how far I step back and how many deep breaths I take, I just can’t find the focus.

I’m lost in the world of sports. Yes, I know, there are many more important things in the world, but athletics have always counter-balanced many maladies.

Sports are a distraction and respite. Just watching a game or participating is time and stress away from the working world.

The Baltimore Ravens’ upcoming game or the University of Maryland’s next event is a checkpoint of escape from the real world. We also use athletics as rallying points for causes like beating cancer or local fundraising.

For me, sports have been a way of life. I have been a fan for as long as I can remember and I have followed sports and its characters as a profession for the majority of adulthood.

So, believe me when I say instances in the games we people play — and watch and worship — have become rather depressing.

For me, it started when the excitement of Bryce Harper playing in Hagerstown wore off. What should have been a memorable event was tainted by ego — that of an 18-year-old learning to play the game, the unrelenting media that overhyped his every move and the majority of fans who felt they were owed something for coming to see the kid play.

Then, there was the evil of tattoos and money and how they turned heads to ruin careers and a once-proud football program at Ohio State.

It’s followed by millionaires battling billionaires over the last nickels and dimes in two pro leagues. The NFL and NBA entered lockouts as owners and players tried to prove who is more important. Meanwhile, while they fight over what they have, they are losing what they got — the fans — as more and more seats go empty.

Then add Floyd Landis, who lost his 2006 Tour de France title because of doping and has now been convicted of hacking into a lab. The kidnapping of Washington catcher Wilson Ramos was nearly as bizarre.

And just when I thought I have seen it all, here comes the disturbing events surrounding Penn State. The whole sordid affair has forced everyone to feel a lifetime of terrible emotions in one week’s time. Shock, horror, sadness and despair top the list as facts of the massive child abuse case unfolds.

There is also a stunned disbelief that someone could be part of, turn his head to avoid or even cover up such an atrocity for any possible reason. Somewhere along the line, being a human being finished in last place.

It strikes a chord on so many levels, least of all that reputation and image aren’t always what they appear to be.

When I entered this world of sports all wide-eyed and excited, it was a simple place. I attended and wrote about games and people. Some of the best stories and drama about people facing adversity and persevering are still found in the sports pages.

The disturbing part is the rest of life’s Pandora’s Box has crashed the party.

Sports are no longer just fun and games. Everything we used to drop just to get to the sports section is now showing up in the sport section. The athletic fairy tales are being trampled by greed, arrogance, self importance, crime and a general selfishness that disregards life itself.

In most of the examples listed above, it’s amazing on how every instance might have been different if someone had taken that step back, taken that deep breath and just took a minute to think clearly. If one person had done that, how many people and futures would have been spared life-changing consequences?

Quick reactions can decide games and save lives, but in many cases, they can ruin them, too.

And that’s why the picture is so big.

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