From Good Football To Bad Lounge Act

Remember when sports were pure escape? There was that time, wasn’t there?

You hunkered down and watched, say FOOTBALL, because you really liked it, it was well worth liking and you had a really serious rooting interest. It was what it was. A compelling game that mandated — with allowances for beer runs — your undivided attention. The mundane no longer mattered. Neither did important stuff.

That’s not to say, however, you were the sort to start a website or rent a banner-plane to express yourself. But you did know those who did.

Anyway, each fall of gridiron rivalries and championship scenarios was anticipated and welcomed as part of nature’s seasonal cycle. Leaves turning, time changing, weather chilling, Doppler radar updating and bowl games and playoffs beckoning. The natural order of things.

Now, it’s different. The natural must vie with the contrived.

It’s partly the TV packaging. When it’s not insulting, it’s merely intrusive.

Roving, typically clueless sideline reporters are a distraction. Cameras in the face of players on the bench capture expressions and messages we don’t need to be privy to. Up close and personal is, alas, precisely that. Send back the clowns.

Worse yet, too many people have way too much to say. And they say it while talking over each other. The games have begotten an obnoxious cottage industry of brash-talking cleat heads. Seemingly, no one is hired to be informed, analytical and pleasant. Doesn’t make for good TV. You have to be a “Type-A” football personality. Would that the “A” only stood for annoying.

When Stuart Scott and Terry Bowden are among the least offensive, it’s not a good sign.

But it’s mostly the players, specifically the deportment department. I sense that a lot of us are increasingly inured to their antics, but at times it’s just impossible to transcend boorish actions of athletes. The time between plays used to be reserved for re-grouping as a team. Now, it’s prime time for the self-congratulatory.

As a result, the games’ ebb and flow is more stop and go; the play is continuously interspersed with choreography and histrionics. Coaches condone it, and networks promote it. Would that some responsible adult could just step in and help all parties differentiate between the exuberantly colorful and the exasperatingly classless.

I know a lot of us could. I already do. Each weekend.

A highly sanitized version would be: “Hey, self-important punk, it’s only an incomplete pass, not The Rapture.”

It’s not like there isn’t already a fitting forum for strutting, wiggling, gyrating, pelvis-thrusting and cheesy chatter. It’s called BET videos.

But here’s another reason — in addition to intimidated coaches, complicit networks and a dysfunctional black culture — why this genie of tasteless behavior won’t be rebottled. Too many fans ostensibly like it — or don’t dislike it enough — when it’s “their” team. For example, those who exulted into a high-five frenzy while watching Warren Sapp pay end zone homage to Beyonce Knowles are part of the process that is turning good football into bad lounge acts.

Billy “White Shoes” Johnson, thanks for nothing. Your legacy is alive and, well, wiggling.

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