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OPINION: A sincere apology to underappreciated sports



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Kurt Busch, driver of the #1 Monster Energy Chevrolet, celebrates with his crew members after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart at Kentucky Speedway on July 13, 2019, in Sparta, Kentucky. Tribune News Service

I consider myself a fairly below-average sports fan, which is to say I eagerly consume football and basketball and not much else. 

Tennis has only ever showed me affection, but its love meant zero to me. Seldom would I tune in to view competitive cheer, and now I am left sobbing, shaken like an emotional pompom.

The arrival of the coronavirus and the ensuing cancellation of sports has confronted me with an unfortunate truth — you never really know what you have until you’ve lost it. 

Like a forced bet in poker, I was blind to let the following games go. All that remains for me to do is apologize.

Golf

Most of my disdain for golf admittedly stems from insecurity. 

Whenever I swing a club, my hip flexors threaten to snap like stale bubble gum. Typically, I come nowhere near the tee and end up contributing to local soil erosion instead. I’m pretty sure I would require a handicap on a putt-putt course. Damn windmills.

Besides, golf gave us one of history’s finest redemption arcs. I’d be lying if I said Tiger Woods’ Masters win in 2019 didn’t raise a few goosebumps. I can forgive a player for any amount of extramarital affairs if he can hit a ball into a cup well enough. 

I didn’t think this sport could fill a heart, but I now see golf can certainly leave a hole in one. 

Lacrosse

This one goes out to all the Prestons, Treys, Trevs and Troys back home. I was wrong to underestimate the challenge of balancing lacrosse, academics and a burgeoning e-cigarette addiction. 

Lacrosse is genuinely extremely engaging. It demands intense focus and coordination given how quickly the ball travels. I imagine the difficulty increases tenfold when you’re throwing and catching it with what is essentially an expensive butterfly net.

Lacrosse players are often identifiable by the mass of hair protruding from their helmets, but those glorious manes should never detract our attention from the beautiful minds underneath. 

More than anything, allow me to apologize on behalf of my past self for every time I joked that the school’s weed team had a lacrosse problem. 

NASCAR 

As his car reaches temperatures of 140 degrees Fahrenheit, a driver, laden with a heavy flame-retardant suit and helmet, approaches a level of discomfort comparable with the agony of sitting through a full NASCAR race.

Despite its competitors being in constant mortal peril, NASCAR never managed to fully excite me. I can definitely enjoy athletes destroying their bodies for my amusement, but I’d rather the carnage take place between a pair of end zones.

I spent years mocking NASCAR’s glorification of everything corporate, but now I want nothing more than to watch logos for light beer companies zip before my eyes. Serves me right, I suppose.

Karma should seriously look into a Budweiser sponsorship. I doubt it could be bested in a contest of going around, and around, and around, in an unbearable circle. 

Baseball

I’m sorry, baseball. As a youth, I erroneously labeled you as boring. Perhaps it was because the broadcasters commentating on your games always sounded like they were fresh off a hefty dose of Valium.

Maybe it was because your biggest icon never screamed “athlete” to me. I’ve seen LeBron James dunk from the free-throw line, but I question whether Babe Ruth could get to first base without chancing a heart attack.

What I wouldn’t give to visit one of your hallowed ballparks again. To breathe in the scent of overpriced bratwursts. To marvel at men whose veins hold enough synthetic testosterone to make Mariah Carey sing baritone.

I offer these words as a sign of regret for all of MLB. Luckily for the Astros, this is a sign anybody can take without penalty.

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