As you probably know, I’m as big a sports fan as anybody, with a Boston bent. (And I can hear all the New York fans saying, “Get bent,” that cute little insult we learned in grade school.)
But the last time I was at Fenway Park was 2005. (I didn’t pay for the tickets.) Before that, well…I guess the late 80s. The last time I saw the Celtics or the Bruins at the New Garden was never. The last time I was in the Old Garden was, hmmm…the late 70s?
I can think of three significant reasons I don’t go to many games. Matt Eagan addressed one today in the Courant. It’s too damned expensive, especially with the new stadiums and arenas. I’d rather spend my money on other things, like the high-def TV I finally broke down and bought (because the old set fried itself). Give me that fabulous picture and the comfort of my own home any day. And I don’t have to pay eight bucks for a beer.
Also, I may have overdosed in the mid-to-late 70s, when I was a sports reporter for WPOP radio, did color commentary on UConn basketball games on the Connecticut Radio Network, did weekend sports on Ch. 30 (when it was actually called “Channel 30”), and did a Monday night sports show on public television in Fairfield. All at the same time. Seven days a week for two years. (For the record, I made $190/week at POP, $50/game for UConn, $18.50/newscast at Ch.30, and I don’t remember what CPTV paid, if anything. Don’t even think of asking what I make now. But like Jim Calhoun, I’ve earned every last penny.)
And that gets me to the third reason. It’s a business. I went to UMass, which once upon a time was on equal sports footing with UConn. Do I wish UMass went the big time route? No. But UConn did, with great success. It’s part of the NBA and NFL’s free farm system. Those who are bright pro prospects say, “Thanks, Coach,” and leave early. Those who aren’t stick around to get a degree, if they have half a brain.
So go ahead, if you must, and bitch and moan about what Jim and Geno make. Mock Manny for rejecting a two-year, $45,000,000 contract. They make their money from a system we support, even if we’re just rooting for the laundry. Hell, even Yale deep-sixed its fine football coach because he couldn’t beat Harvard. (You believe Jack Siedlecki retired?)
Let’s face it, we enjoy watching people do what we wish we could. (Oh, to turn two like Pedroia, or stick a three like Ray with :01 left on the clock.) And many of us are willing to pay big bucks to see them do it.
Me? I’ll be on my couch, waiting for Tiger Woods’ return. Big enough news to warrant two mentions on NBC Nightly News in the past few days. (Not that it has anything to do with NBC carrying Tiger’s return tournament, right?) Because without Tiger, the value of the PGA Tour was greatly diminished. It is, after all, a business.