I grew up in Northeast Ohio, which explains a lot about my attitude toward sports. Once upon a time, I was a fairly ardent fan of a variety of sports. I, of course, watched Ohio State on TV every Saturday, and the Browns every Sunday. And we had a great, though mostly hopeless local college team in a variety of sports at Mount Union College. I liked to listen to baseball on the radio. I listened to Joe Tate on the radio as the Cavaliers were first horrible in the 70s, and then really good in the 90s, but always destined to finish second in their division behind Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. We, in our small town America, patriotic way, liked to watch the Olympics every four years and listen to Jim McKay talk about obscure sports like the luge and rowing. I took it as a way to see the variety and splendor of the world to watch those rare occasional excerpts from the Americas Cup, or the Tour de France, or the World Cup.
But for me, personally, those days are long gone. I've been more and more pissed off at the sporting world for years, and finally, last year, I swore off following any sport at all. And despite several previous attempts to do so and failing, which my wife perpetually teased me about, she's fairly surprised to see that this time, yes, I'm serious. No more sports. No more following the old team I used to love when they suddenly put together a 10 game winning streak. No more following that fabulous championship run. I've had enough. For that reason, since I'm a year or more away from paying attention to the particulars in any sport, my specific examples in this article may be a bit older and perhaps not up-to-the-second in timeliness, but the trends are ongoing and I'm absolutely certain that they've only gotten worse in the past year.
So why did I swear off of sports? Part of it was the long, painful experiences of the average sports fan from that part of the country. Our teams seemed to be particularly cursed, or doomed, or fated, or whatever the hell it is that causes them to fail at the most painful time and in the most spectacularly humiliating ways possible. But my disgust goes beyond that. It's probably partially because of those experiences, but it's not only those. Even if you did not have the misfortune to be a Cleveland Browns fan, I would think most people would admit that there are some seriously screwed up things about the way sports work now. They present the worst aspects of human nature, writ large on a diamond-vision screen and in 30 second clips on SportsCenter. The worst things about the way human beings treat one another and treat themselves are visible in every sport, on every channel, in every season, every day of the year.
These are the 14 things that are seriously wrong with the way sports are these days. I'm sure many of these things have been true about sports forever, in one form or another, and certainly true in other human endeavors, but they're just so much bigger and worse in sports in these early years of the 21st century.