|Submitting to sports|
By Hunter S. Thompson
Page 2 columnist
The baseball season is over now, but the evil season is not. Baseball is a sort of national fig leaf for the American spirit these days, but it withers away like smoke when the World Series finally ends, and the long hard slog of the football season is on us for real.
Right. No more of those warm summer days in the centerfield bleachers with no shirt and cold beer and Dolly Parton on the radio. No sir. That was yesterday. Today is a whole different story. Welcome to Generation Z. The fat is in the fire.
The unbeaten Minnesota Vikings were the first of many bets gone wrong. I gave six (6) points and got snuffed like a wet candle when Culpepper went nuts and started throwing the ball up for grabs. The Vikings went from a position of comfortable control of the game, to a helpless mess of dunces who couldn't do anything right; and the Giants suddenly looked like world-beaters. It gave me a creepy feeling all over my body.
That was nothing, however, compared to the horrible shock of seeing the favored 49ers go belly-up against stupid little Arizona. It was sickening. San Francisco lost, once again, because their field-goal kicker was a third-rate bum who couldn't kick straight. A team that can't convert field goals under pressure is not going to make the playoffs. The 49ers are doomed to the slag heap of once-great teams in the NFL -- Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Oakland and the pitiful Chicago Bears.
You want parity, bubba? Try watching Dante Hall out-running the whole Buffalo secondary, on his way to a game-breaking touchdown that ended in a 38-5 rout, a half-point shy of the Over.
Ah, but nevermind these silly gambling stories ... They are nothing, compared to the nasty spectacle of George Steinbrenner and his pampered, overpaid Yankees failing to take the World Series for the third straight time. It is getting harder and harder to remember the last time the Yanks won a World Championship. How many times do we have to hear about Derek Jeter running around with women in night clubs? Or the dirty little fool who reached onto the field and destroyed the dreams of the whole Chicago Cub nation, just because he wanted to grab himself another little white two-dollar baseball.
But not for the world of sport, which in the end is bigger than all of us. One of the all-time great pieces of Sportswriting is a 1930s New Yorker story by the elegant prose stylist, E.B.White, titled "The Day Sports Got Too Big." It depicts a wild and ridiculously futuristic vision of a world overburdened with Fantastic gambling and blind addiction to every point spread on every game or contest, fight and even every horse race that was happening at that moment.
Even sportswriters were going crazy from trying to keep up with every piece of action from Tennis to golf and constant harness racing in upstate New York.
I was shocked and amazed when I first read White's story. But that was a long time ago, when nobody had cell phones or credit cards or family TV sets to watch. Hell, I was not even born when White wrote that story, but it has haunted every moment of my long career as an athlete and a sports editor, because it has all come true in my lifetime.
I shudder when I think that my grandmother, the beautiful Lucille Hunter Ray, grew up in a time before automobiles or radios or even electric light bulbs existed.
That poor woman saw too much, I think -- but that is way beyond what we are talking about. It is sort of like bringing the String Theory of quantum Mechanics into a football conversation.
Forget it. Call your bookie and double up.
Dr. Hunter S. Thompson was born and raised in Louisville, Ky. His books include "Hell's Angels," "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," "Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72," "The Great Shark Hunt," "The Curse of Lono," "Generation of Swine," "Songs of the Doomed," "Screwjack," "Better Than Sex," "The Proud Highway," "The Rum Diary," and "Fear and Loathing in America." His latest book, "Kingdom of Fear," 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 regularly on Page 2.