Single page view By Jeff Merron
Page 2

The new movie "9 Songs" has finally broken a big taboo, with scenes with what New York Times critic Stephen Holden describes as "a man and a woman enjoying spontaneous, passionate ... sex." Here's the thing: The sex is real and explicit, but the film isn't a porn movie. It's a real movie with a plot, and represents, says Holden, the "tumbling of the final sexual barriers in art films."

The now-broken taboo, Holden says, is actually a big yawn.

But the review did get us thinking about sports practices, formerly verboten, now accepted with a shrug (and often a sneer or smirk, but still, the shrug is the key).

You still see this at the ballpark at times, but it's easier these days to buy an autograph.

10. Charging for autographs
Players used to see it as part of the job: you're a fan, you wait in line, you get a signature. For free. Now, some former players like Pete Rose pretty much live off signing their names, and current players – the ones making Big League Bucks right now – are also charging. Did it ever happen in 1960 or 1970? Probably. But probably not very often.

9. Football games on weekdays
Here's how it used to be: college football on Saturday; NFL on Sunday and Monday night, and, once college football season ended, some Saturday games. Weekday games? Only on Thanksgiving.

Now, thanks to the increasing quest for TV exposure (and revenue), you can catch college football games every night of the week, and NFL games on Thursdays, Fridays (once in a while), Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays ... are Tuesday and Wednesday far behind?

8. Hair, hair, everywhere
Teams have all different kinds of hair policies – no beards for Yankees! But in general, you see all kinds of wild hair that you'd never have seen 30 years ago, including goatees, rope braids, Damon-ish long hair, completely shiny shaved baldies. If you can grow it (or shave it), you can show it. We'll call it the Oscar Gamble revolution.

7. AstroTurf
Once it became an integral part of the eighth wonder of the world (the Astrodome), artificial turf was set. But the glory days of the 1980s are a distant memory, as teams have churned artificial turf into Wal-Mart doormats despite the higher cost of real grass. The natural look is back.

6. Advertising on unis (and everywhere else)
Just last year, jockeys won the right to wear ads on their Kentucky Derby silks – and they were way late to the game. Thirty years ago, in-stadium advertising was very limited, a sign here, a billboard there. Now, ads are everywhere – on unis, on bases (yeah, I know, the Spider-Man plan was blocked, but it will happen), all over the outfield walls, behind home plate, on top of NBA backboards, on football fields, on skin (tats on boxers). If there's a visual space to be filled, it will be. Money rules, absolutely.

5. Hanging on the rim
Used to be dunking was in-your-face enough; used to be hanging on the rim wasn't allowed. The rule's still on the books where you can hang on only in situations where you might land on someone, or to protect yourself, but hanging to show off is only infrequently enforced. Who was the first? We're not sure. But Shaq has made it his trademark.



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