Archive for Thursday, July 10, 2003

Opinion: My new role

July 10, 2003

Before I go into my spiel, I'd like to take a minute and appreciate the fact that July 3 marked the 25th anniversary of the greatest movie ever filmed, "Animal House."

No genuflection is necessary, just a little appreciation.

OK, since the day former Sentinel sports columnist Thomas Kepka resigned, there's been a common occurrence in our newsroom each Thursday. That's because each afternoon, sports editor Matt Tait comes to my desk and asks the same question.

"You want to write a column this week?" the boss asks.

"Uh, I don't know," I answer back reluctantly. "I've got a lot of stuff to write this week."

I'm usually able to duck Tait for two days without answering before Monday afternoon when he gets fidgety. What makes me reluctant is the fact that people get so jazzed about sports.

Everyone has an opinion on popular sports (sorry, WNBA) and when you're in public, they'll usually give you that opinion. And sometimes, those conversations can get a little testy, like when people dissed me about Roy Williams.

First a little background. I think Williams (the Pill from Chapel Hill) has less courage than an Iraqi soldier surrendering to the Red Cross. I think he's more dangerous than Ricky Clemons at a Lisa Loeb concert.

But, there's some out there that pledge allegiance to ol' Roy and after a series of Roy bashing columns months ago, they vented their frustrations at me. So be it, their opinions are just as valid as my own. (But I work for a newspaper and you don't!)

Where was I? Oh, yeah, so when Tait asked me to write a sports column for the summer, it was with some hesitance that I accepted. (I promise, only in dire circumstances, meaning each Duke/UNC game, will I break out my Roy bashing stick. Beware of the flog!)

Just about every Monday afternoon, I gladly accept writing this sports column.

By then, some sports epiphany hits my brain and I feel the need to launch a verbal assault at the hypocritical (Bud Selig, shoe companies, the NCAA) and sometimes, criminal (Mike Tyson, Randy Moss, Allen Iverson, etc.) world of sports.

It helps me stay sane (at least partially) and usually keeps me from scaling a tall building with a high powered rifle.

Like a punch drunk boxer (Vitaly Klitschko?) looking for more punishment, I stumble into a column, only to be sucker punched by people hating/disagreeing with me.

Tait told me the sports desk is mine for the summer or at least until he fires me. Call it double secret probation.

So, while I'm writing this column, let's make it fun. Let's get back to why we watch and follow sports in the first place -- because it's a reprieve from everyday life. Because sports are nothing more than grown men playing kids games, and because every one of us working stiffs would trade all the whiskey in Ireland for a chance to play second base for the Yankees or tee off against Tiger Woods or go clubbing with Anna Kournikova. OK, the last one was my own, but you get the point.

I want to hear from the readers, what do you want written about? If there's a local athlete to cover, we'll do it. If there's a topic I'm missing, we'll get it. Let's hear it, all of it.

And if someone comes bashing my column, I'll grin like Kevin Bacon in that long forgotten classic "Animal House" and say, "Thank you, sir, may I have another?"

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