When you write stuff like my last two posts, you inevitably get the, “Oh, poor you. Wah! Wah! Wah!” response. Which, to a certain degree, is understandable. While other people are doing taxes or drilling teeth or serving hamburgers, I’m at a professional sporting event, seemingly having fun and living the life. Understood.
That said, it’s an extremely flawed viewpoint. Because perception is usually taken as reality, everybody has this vision of what “The Life” is. For some, it’s Jay-Z, rapping before 40,000 people. For others, it’s Jay Cutler, starting for the Bears. Or maybe it’s even (good God) me, writing books for a living, kicking back in a Starbucks with a laptop and a latte. I get it. Really, I do. But it’s not real. “The Life” is never “The Life.” There is no perfection. I know people who have, literally, hundreds upon hundreds of millions of dollars, and they’re the most miserable wretches you’ll ever meet. I’ve seen athletes suffer from great depression. Hell, there’s a reason so many of our celebrities smoke and drink and do drugs and get married on a whim. In short, they’re bored. Or they’re disappointed by the truth behind The Life.
So if Shakira says her life sucks and she has a headache and she’s in a bad mood, well, that’s completely reasonable. And if I hate being stuck in the Chicago Bears’ locker room while my kids are home playing with my wife, well, that’s reasonable, too. One man’s paradise is another man’s hell.
And one more thing: Sports locker rooms suck. They truly, truly, truly, truly suck. First off, they smell worse than you can imagine. Second, 99 percent of the athletes don’t want to talk to you and, even if they did want to talk to you, have nothing interesting to say. And, lastly, the whole thing is bullsâ€¢â€¢â€¢, and anyone who has done this long enough knows exactly what I’m talking about. It’s the dumbest ritual I’ve ever seen, and it goes exactlyâ€”exactlyâ€”like this:
(We’ll use a losing locker room as an example here)
Step One: The media members charge into the locker room. Half-naked players pretend they’re very upset after a loss, so they speak in hushed tones, don’t make much eye contact, etc. When a needed player looks up, all the media folk charge over. This generally included anywhere from three to seven cameramen (with their perfectly coiffed reporters), a couple of web geeks, three or four radio guys, the, oh, four beat writers, four more columnists and a couple of out-of-town writers. The TV guys usually go first, followed by radio, and their questions alwaysâ€”alwaysâ€”suck. Sometimes, they’re not even questions.
â€¢ “Tough game out there. Talk about the fourth quarter …”
â€¢ “That throw in the first quarter looked like a miscue between you and Bobby …”
â€¢ “Was this a statement game?”
After approximately 10 minutes of that mind-numbing inanity, the TV and radio boobs seek out, as a group, the next brain-dead player to accost with stupid questions they hear week after week. The print guys stick around, hoping to get so-and-so player to open up a bit now that it’s just them, a pad, a pen and a small little recorder. Back in the 1990s, this worked. Now, thanks to media training and warnings not to trust the press, it rarely does.
Step Two: After 20 minutes of nonsense, a team media representative hollars, “Time to wrap it up guys!” At this point, we scramble to any lingering players, hoping to snag one last goodie. A tight end might tell you he thinks things will turn around next week. A quarterback will suggest the offense can only improve. A linebacker farts in your direction, then laughs.
Step Three: I leap from a bridge.