I’m not sure when we became such an esoteric and shock-based society but it really hit me, once again, as the news unfolded these last few weeks.
We have a jobs crisis, we’ve hit another debt ceiling, young American troops are still stuck overseas and fights for workers rights going on in several states, and stations such as WTVN, to their credit, are covering those topics.
But those issues are being drowned out by the national sensationalism of the Caylee Anthony ordeal, fallout from the royal wedding and Anthony Weiner’s, well, weiner.
And the banality of reaching for cheap thrills over substance and meaning has reached well into the sportsworld. We are way more engrossed with who failed, who cheated and who lost their cool than we are with true achievement or courage or consistency.
Soft-spoken Steve Stricker played lights-out, won The Memorial and moved to No. 4 in the world rankings of golf, highest among all Americans, and we barely managed a yawn. Hey, it wasn’t Tiger and I don’t even think that Stricker guy has ever even sexted anyone.
The Dallas Mavericks, known for their postseason collapses of the past and supposedly led by a “soft” Euro player, suddenly hit their stride, swept past the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, cooled the upstart Oklahoma City Thunder and then rallied to best the favored Miami Heat for the franchise’s first-ever NBA title. So did anyone want to talk about their 16-5 mark in the postseason, the derring-do of Dirk Nowitzki or the laudable perseverance of Jason Kidd? Of course not. Not when LeBron James is imploding.
The Boston Red Sox, Milwaukee Brewers and Detroit Tigers suddenly caught fire and made the divisional races more interesting in Major League Baseball, but that hardly mattered. What did was that the Indians were sliding, the Dodgers’ ownership situation is a quagmire, and, oh yeah, they probably are going to gas the divisions anyway.
Granted, the news can’t always be positive. There isn’t a great way to flower the spread of terrorism, ignore rising gas prices or even sugarcoat the NFL lockout. But sometimes there is plenty good only no one wants to see it.
Take the Ohio State athletic disaster, for example. I posted an article about 132 student-athletes graduating Sunday and, as one might expect, it barely made a blip on the radar. But Terrelle Pryor decides to hold a press conference with his scumbag agent yelling at reporters and proclaiming him to be the NFL’s new messiah and – voila – you’ve got box office gold. Channel 10 here in Columbus even cut off CBS national programming to air the press conference live.
We’re hearing and reading about car scams and shady bartering for tattoos and labeling a coach who has done humanitarian deeds as a lowlife cheater. What we’re missing is that Ohio State arguably has just had its best overall year from a student-athlete standpoint. GPAs and APR numbers are up – and so is the success rate in the sporting arena. In fact, OSU is expected to finish second among all FBS schools when the Sears Directors Cup rankings are released at the end of this week. That would be the school’s best-ever showing.
The men’s basketball team reached the top of the polls – again – under head coach Thad Matta and finished 34-3. The Buckeyes won the outright regular-season title and conference tournament, repeating both of those feats. The women rallied and won the Big Ten Tournament as well.
The men’s volleyball team just won the NCAA title and OSU again placed high in the NCAA championships in sports such as golf, tennis and track and field. The soccer teams are terrific. Softball is on the rise. So is baseball, wrestling, lacrosse and gymnastics.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s still good to be a Buckeye. And it’s still OK to be more concerned about real problems in the world.