I don't know about you but I'm a sports fan. Any sport, any level.
I enjoy watching the best compete against the best, boys or girls, high school or college or professional, Tiger vs. Phil, Memphis vs. Tennessee, Notre Dame vs. USC, Giants vs. Patriots, Manchester United vs. Arsenal, Federer vs. Nadal, Marshall vs. Farragut.
And I enjoy watching good entertainment, Flanagan vs. Newark, Warsaw vs. Rochester, 17-year-old kids playing their hearts out and hustling from one end of the basketball floor to the other like you wish so many professionals would do.
So I spent last weekend with my trusty channel-switcher in hand, catching brief and sometimes longer snippets of everything on the television screen that caught my fancy--golf, high school, college and NBA basketball, NASCAR and soccer.
Do you know what I enjoyed the most? Sure, the Mempis-Tennessee game was a classic, everything that it was hyped to be. Indiana-Northwestern was a thriller, too. And Tiger Woods' exciting semifinal victory over Henrik Stenson in the match play.
But I enjoyed the girls Class 1A and 2A semifinals and championship games most of all.
For those critics who predicted the girls' playoff in the smallest of four classes would be dull and boring and unworthy of a state tournament setting, check the tapes because I'm sure you weren't watching.
The folks in Flanagan and Newark and Warsaw and Rochester couldn't care less. While they were hoisting their state trophies in Redbird Arena, do you think they were wondering what basketball fans in Chicago were thinking? Do they celebrate any less in Warsaw than they do in Flossmoor?
When you watch a girls' game, do you make frequent comparisons to the boys? Was Anna Jones' record 39-point performance in the Class 1A final any less spectacular because she didn't execute a tomahawk dunk? Were those last-second three-point shots any less dramatic because a Chicago kid didn't make them?
The problem with sports today, in my view, is too many people only watch the games they can bet on. There is so much else out there. I don't have any kids playing in high school. I once walked the cobblestone main street in Warsaw all the way to the Mississippi River but I don't know anybody in the town. Rochester, either. Or Flanagan or Newark.
I just enjoy watching high school kids play the game hard and with spirit and enthusiasm, the way it should always be played, not because a college scholarship is at stake or somebody has five dollars on the line. I can only hope that the boys' tournament is as exciting.