A bad day in the sports page today for my childhood love-Basketball

I still like reading the sports page. I am a fan of sports. Two stories today compelled me to reflect on basketball, my childhood love.

I was a basketball fan. It was like cycling is to me presently.

Basketball has changed:

http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20091013/SPORTS03/910130365/1002/sports/UK++Gillispie+reach+agreement++ex-coach+to+get+almost+$3+million

http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20091013/SPORTS02/910130359/1002/sports/U+of+L+s+Jennings+issues+apology

As an adult, I often sleep listening to podcasts (2Johns, Heart Rhythm, NEJM, and Fast Money are my favorites). As a child living in WL Connecticut, I remember falling asleep to AM radio broadcasts of UCONN basketball games. That is, the Dee Rowe era, years before UCONN got famous. I played CYO BB for St Mary’s parish. Friday night games at St Adalbert’s in Enfield were as nerve wrenching as any criterium. No kidding, we ironed those old silk tight shorts before the game. Haven’t ironed anything in 25 years. One of my teammates from St Mary’s married my high school sweetheart. Thank goodness, as I may not have found Staci.

We drilled ourselves into oblivion practicing in the Union School gym after school. One of those epic gyms with the small backboards and stages on one end. In high school, I played freshman, JV and sat the bench my senior year on varsity. Coach Sullivan had a heart and let me stay on the team. I now realize that as a “slow twitch” endurance guy, I was ill equipped for basketball.

The Mandrola’s had a goal on the garage. The driveway tilted right to left. A home court advantage for sure. The repetition of shooting buckets alone is akin to modern day meditation. How many hours did I spend in the driveway under the watchful eye of Non and Gramps next door-TNTC (to numerous to count.)

My good bud Pete Demers and I used to make evening events out of watching those classic Celtics/Sixers/Lakers battles. As a UCONN medical student, we had physical exam teaching during the 1987Indiana/Syracuse duel. Thank goodness for that small black and white TV in the back room which we were sneaking away to between 1:1 instruction with the women volunteer teacher. Yes, I did see Keith Smart’s shot live.

The movie Hoosiers changed my life. As a life time Connecticut yankee, I decided it was time to experience the mid west. Dad and I took off for a 10 day tour of Big Ten medical training programs. I played pick up ball until 2300 on a Friday night in Iowa’s field house. At least 12 games were going on simultaneously. Played in IUPUI’s gym and actually guarded one of the dudes who played on Hickory’s team in Hoosiers. He was a dental student there. Dad and I visited Butler field house. I decided on Indiana University.

That was then, now, over the past years, my love of hoops is fading. Today’s sports page is illustrative.

UK is paying an alcoholic former coach 2.9 million dollars to settle a lawsuit. Let’s see. UK tuition is about 7ooo$. 2.9 million would pay for over 400 students tuition.

The second story involves 2 UL basketball student athletes who were tasered. Why were they tasered? For involvement in a fracas. “Fracas.” That’s a cool word. Not sure what they meant, but getting tasered usually means there was likely some serious misbehavior. Maybe. No prejudging here.

Finally, just a month ago, we had the Porcini affair.

I have just lost interest. As a Louisville and Kentucky resident, I am embarrassed for UK and UL, but they are clearly not outliers.

A depressing sports page indeed.

JMM

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