Blogging is such a new concept that the word isn’t even included in my old Webster’s Dictionary.
According to Wikipedia, the electronic dictionary, a blog is a Web site, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events or other material such as graphics or video.
When I retired as a full-time high school sports reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times in 2001, I didn’t know what a blog was. Imagine my surprise when an editor called to ask me if I wanted to contribute a weekly blog to the Sun-Times Web site.
It is even better than writing for a daily newspaper because I can instantly react to breaking news and respond to readers’ comments with editorial opinion that used to be reserved for weekly columns. I always have enjoyed a back-and-forth, punch-counterpunch with readers who have opposing views. Now I can joust with the Phil Smiths and Tim Johnsons of this world more frequently.
But sometimes a reader gets me hopping mad and my temper gets the best of me. I must admit I have absolutely no patience for someone who lacks historical knowledge on a subject, refuses to admit it and isn’t open-minded enough to intelligently deal with the issue, preferring instead to rant uncontrollably.
It happened the other day when a reader asked: “What the hell does it matter if a talent evaluator watched some old dude in short shorts? How is this relevant at all? If you can spot talent, you can spot talent…period. I actually trust the younger guys’ opinions more because they understand the modern game and aren’t stuck in the past.”
My reaction? Clear the decks for action.
I would expect such a narrow-minded response from someone who obviously doesn’t understand that the game isn’t played as well today, fundamentally or technically, only athletically, as it used to be. That’s why U.S. national teams have been embarrassed by foreign teams in recent years.
Kids who are being taught the “modern” game of slam-dunking by AAU, club and summer league coaches don’t play defense, rarely look to pass, are statistics-minded, are poor free throw shooters, even poorer teammates, can’t convert from 15-18 feet and think dunks are the only way to get on SportsCenter.
Besides, half the fun of evaluating kids is comparing them to the stars of the past. Is D.J. Richardson or Chris Colvin as good a point guard as Quinn Buckner, Isiah Thomas, Ronnie Lester or Sam Puckett? Is Brandon Paul as good as Nelison Anderson? Are there any post players in a class with Russell Cross, Kevin Garnett or Rashard Griffith? How would Jereme Richmond rank in the class of 1979 or 1998?
It’s like the movies. They don’t make ‘em like they used to. Stars, either. Is Jack Nicholson the only male who belongs on a marquee with Gable, Stewart, Grant, Cooper, Cagney, Tracy and Bogart? Is Merle Streep the only female who can be mentioned in the same breath with Hepburn, Harlow, Davis, Lombard, Colbert and Crawford?
Have you noticed that recent state championship teams aren’t compared to the great teams of the past? Thornridge 1972, Quincy 1981, Collinsville 1961, Marshall 1958, La Grange 1953, Taylorville 1944.
That’s a slam dunk. And it’s relevant, too.