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Keeping Up with the Jones: An ever-evolving sports world

By |  August 11, 2022 0 Comments

Greetings from an evening at the Hall of Justice, my detached garage, where I sneak away and watch sports on mute while listening to music on my jukebox. I’m spinning a mix of ’90s alternative rock while my kids and their neighbor friends sit on the broad side of the barn watching a movie. I’ve got 2019’s “Shazam!” on the projector. No one has said anything about the bat that swoops by on occasion.

Photo: Seth Jones

Seth Jones

Yeah, no sports on the TV right now. It’s Major League Baseball’s All-Star break, always a low time in sports watching. Probably a good thing …

My sports world has been tumultuous lately, between professional golf and college sports. LIV Golf and college conference realignment have sent two of my favorite sports spheres into a tailspin. I don’t like it, but maybe my advancing age is keeping me somewhat levelheaded this go-around.

Me and getting worked up about sports I have zero effect on goes back a few decades. It started as a kid when my family, season ticket holders for Wichita Wings indoor soccer, found ourselves at our first “Save the Wings” banquet. Who knows how much my dad forked out for those seats at the table? I’m guessing it wasn’t in the family budget. It was so important to me, and he knew it.

After about the third straight season of attending a “Save the Wings” banquet, my dad asked aloud, “How many times do we need to save these guys?”

A few years later, I freaked out when the Big 8 was on the verge of collapse. As an avid Kansas basketball fan, it was important to me that — Kansas played Colorado every season?

Today I realize it should have been obvious the Wings were going to close shop. I’m old enough now to recognize the foolishness of thinking the Big 8 would be around forever.

And yet here I am again, watching closely as the PGA Tour and LIV Golf duke it out. I haven’t been through this one before, but I feel like I should know better than to care. It was when Dustin Johnson went to LIV Golf that I felt that old sting again, of the Wings going out of business or, maybe more appropriate, of a conference going through a major change. DJ has been a golfer I’ve enjoyed following over the years and interviewing a few times. Seeing him apparently walk away from the PGA Tour shouldn’t have had any effect on me, but it did.

There’s no telling how many more ‘big names’ will join LIV Golf in the next days and weeks. This roller coaster is just picking up speed, it seems. Last month I thought it might become old news soon. Now, I’m worried this story isn’t going away for a long, long time.

Money. That’s what it’s all about. With age, we keep getting reminders that sports teams and leagues are a business with an underbelly. My daughter asked me if I’ve seen the Netflix series Bad Sport yet. I told her I was aware of it, but no thanks — I already know too many of those stories.

“Shazam!” is coming to a close next door. The premise is lighthearted: a troubled boy can suddenly transform into an adult superhero by uttering a single word. The kids must like the fantasy of being able to instantly become a grown-up. When you’re little, you want to be grown-up.

Conversely, I wouldn’t want to be young again. I would like to have a magic word that came with a lightning strike, suddenly making sports we enjoy uncomplicated and simply the game itself. All the business, the contracts, the endorsements, we could no longer see. We could watch sports through the eyes of a young person.

There’s a fantasy.

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