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Eerie lull rattles
the sports world


Page 2 columnist



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Some weeks are ugly in the world of Sports, and last week was definitely one of them.

Millions of serious basketball fans -- 80 percent of them rooting feverishly for the Philadelphia 76ers (according to USA Today) -- watched in painful disbelief as the preternaturally arrogant Los Angeles Lakers stomped the helpless Sixers into quivering Blood-sausage (on their Home court in front of 19,000 Philly supporters). They had been conned into betting huge chunks of their own money on their Homeboys to somehow prevail and bring home the Bacon -- and toward the end they got Bitter about it. The whole vast city of Philadelphia was humiliated, once again, and even the Mayor freaked out when he had to pay off his bets.

He was far from alone in his grief. The whole nation was plunged into mourning for one reason or another -- from floods in Philadelphia to suicidal despair in the White House -- when they heard the news of the U.S. Navy running amuck with bombs and heavy Artillery on the war-torn beaches of Vieques, where local Protesters were stripped naked and brutally beaten by wild-eyed U.S. Marines.

The White House was blindsided and fatally paralyzed by the horrible news from Vieques, which broke on Page One of the New York Times, and reported in such blood-curdling detail that not even the hapless child-president dared to deny it. ... "He has his own problems right now," said one high-ranking White house official who refused to be named or even quoted except on conditions of total anonymity. "As far as I know, the President knows absolutely nothing about the island of Vieques. He doesn't even know where it is."

  The winter is over, the harvest is in, and the Revenue Stream from Hockey and Basketball has dwindled down to a trickle. The next few months will not be a happy time for winter sports executives who failed to meet Expectations,as they say in the Bean-Counters' cubicles. Dr. Chop is coming to town.  
  

Whoops! Enough of that -- Back to sports. We were all taught in school that right-thinking people go to Work on weekdays and relax on Saturday and Sunday, and that Bad things happen to people who don't. That is why high school football games are scheduled on Friday night and College teams play on Saturday. It is the American Way, and I learned it like everybody else did.

But things changed when I grew up and went into the Sportswriting business. All of a sudden I found myself going to Work on weekends, which caused my life to change radically. ... I still went to Football games on Fridays and Saturdays, and I still drank beer on those nights -- but I no longer sat with my friends in the carefree Student section, and I no longer took my girlfriends along with me to the games -- no more than normal people take their girlfriends with them to the Office. It was out of the question.

So, I was forced to change my ways. It was awkward at first, but not for long. The first time I got a real-money Paycheck for watching a football game from the Press box, or covering a Muhammad Ali fight from ringside, I quickly saw the Light. The sporting world is faced with an eerie lull this week, and many people are nervous.

The winter is over, the harvest is in, and the Revenue Stream from Hockey and Basketball has dwindled down to a trickle. The next few months will not be a happy time for winter sports executives who failed to meet Expectations,as they say in the Bean-Counters' cubicles. Dr. Chop is coming to town.

It happens every year in every sport, like a game of Musical Chairs in a grade-school classroom. There are only 30 professional basketball teams in the NBA, and only 16 slots in the Playoffs, so the math is not difficult. At least 16 well-paid professional Coaches will be Terminated With Prejudice before Labor Day, and not one of them will be surprised. They learned the difference between Winning and Losing a long time ago.

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson's books include Hell's Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72, The Proud Highway, Better Than Sex and The Rum Diary. His new book, Fear and Loathing in America, has just been released. A regular contributor to various national and international publications, Thompson now lives in a fortified compound near Aspen, Colo. His column, "Hey, Rube," appears each Monday on Page 2.



hey, rube! 


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