Sunday, May 07, 2006

For Sports Fans, The Buck Stops Here

In today's Arizona Republic, sportswriter Dan Bickley implies that fans who complain about unjust officiating sound like hicks. There's something bush league, in his view, about demanding that you fork over between seventy-five and three hundred bucks per ticket to see an honest contest.

Why don't fans in the biggest TV markets tend to worry about such things? Probably because they either prefer deluding themselves into thinking their teams really are the best the lion's share of the time, or else because they have no pride and have such a pathetic sense of themselves that they're okay with being TOLD they're winners, even when they wouldn't be without extra help.

Kobe "the Princess" Bryant would be the best player on just about any franchise in the league. There's something corrupt about being willing to play for a team of mercenaries who get three extra players every night. Players with whistles. Deaden your conscience to that for a while and you lose a part of who you are.

Maybe that's why he made such a pathetic spectacle of himself on Saturday night. Throwing elbows at people's heads and knocking them around. And the refs were such cowards that for the most part, they ignored it. Surprise, surprise.

Not only is the game of professional basketball in the process of defiling itself to the point where it's about as genuine as bigtime wrestling, but in winking at the sellout, America is sullying its soul.

As I have stated earlier, my disenchantment with the NBA goes back to long before the beginning of the WNBA. I got tired of watching suspected rapists, and men under police investigation for having allegedly hired hit-men to kill pregnant girlfriends, cheered by arenas full of fans. That's just sick. This country is spiritually diseased.

If you pay good money -- and lots of it -- to watch a contest that's billed as a fair game, when the officiating is corrupt, you are being robbed. And if you don't care that you are being robbed, you are compromising your very soul.

I still watch the big games on TV. I grew up watching the Suns, and of course I retain some real affection for the team. But I refuse to pay that sort of money to watch a game in which the outcome has already been determined. And I don't care that somebody who makes his living whoring after pro athletes wants to call me a hayseed because I'm not afraid to say so.

There's still only sooooo much the referees can do to affect the outcome of a game. They still don't dare to be too obvious, which is why the "right" team doesn't always win it. Rather than being a sign that the league has not yet succumbed to corruption, that is A PART OF its corruption. Because it still wants to make its games look like honest contests, sometimes the "wrong" team still has to win. In its unwillingness to show itself for what it is, the league still lies to us and steals our money.

When you go to a Harlem Globetrotters game, you know they're going to win by a fantabulous margin. This is not dishonest; it's all just a part of the show. When you go to see Wrestle Mania, you understand that you are seeing a staged production. It may not be my cup of joe, but because it's giving the paying public exactly what is expected, it isn't taking anybody's money under false pretenses.

"Princess" Bryant ought to be in jail for the cheap shots he took at Suns players last night. If he were any of the fans, he certainly would be. I take consolation, small as it is, that the Suns managed to enact justice and win the game. This was the outcome because the Lakers are so bad that they don't even belong on the same court with the Suns. Most of their players are unfit to lace the Suns' sneakers.

Lakers fans used to have enough pride to put a great team on the floor. Man, have they sunk! If these clowns hadn't been wearing Laker purple and gold, they'd never have made the playoffs at all. They've got to resort to thuggery to get anywhere. Too bad the Suns are bigger men than they are, and more than willing to stand up to whatever they dish out.

It's not too late to save the NBA. Insist on honest contests. Refuse to pay the insulting prices teams now charge, and they will come back down to earth.

The Princess sits in the kiss-n'-cry area, wiping away her tears and hugging her teddy-bears and flowers. The judges couldn't come through for her this time, and she doesn't -- sniff! -- like her coach as a person. She doesn't even have Shaq to snipe at anymore. And the Suns are skating boldly off to another challenge.

Those "Beat L.A.!" signs are good for another whole series. Go Suns!


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