Athletes, fans ain’t what they used to be

By JOSEPH TINTLE

What’s with today’s athletes and fans? They are one of a kind.

A baseball player hits a pop foul ball that is caught and his teammate advances to second base. The batter heads back to the dugout giving high fives like he just got the news his wife delivered triplets.

A football player catches a pass in the end zone and he whoops it up by moonwalking across the field. Meanwhile, in 30 seconds his team will walk off the field on the wrong end of a 36-6 shellacking.

Even the fat fan who catches a home run in his two-quart bucket of Orville Redenbacher popcorn looks around to pound his loser friend’s chest as if they had something to do with the 450-foot drive.

Yes, things are a bit different in sports than they were 50 years ago.

(“Are you writing another blog spouting your old-man opinions?”)

That’s my wife, Kathy. Can’t put anything past her.

Now, let’s see, where was I.

Oh, yes, the good old days. Of course, the good old days were never quite as good as many of us claim. What was good about Vietnam? Violence in the streets? Drugs? Nothing. But when a player hit a foul ball that was caught, advancing the runner to second base, he merely chugged back to the dugout, head low, disappointed that he didn’t get a single. And there was no announcer claiming that the player had a “quality at-bat” like we’re reminded of so often today.

No, the player from yesteryear made an out and the runner did his job by reaching second. That was it and the fans in the stands just nodded approval because it was good baseball.

Can you imagine a Green Bay Packer trying to pull off some ego-driven dance step and dunking a football over the goalpost crossbar after a touchdown? Coach Vince Lombardi would have skewered him in front of a national audience and he’d sit longer than Siddhartha under a tree waiting for some profound insight.

Now we come to the fans.

During the 1950s and 60s they came dressed up to the ballpark. Men often wore suits and ties and the women dresses. Now I’m not proposing a return to that old dress code, but I would like to hear a lot less abusive language. I hear the expression “You fuckin’ asshole” at Yankee Stadium so often that for a while there I swore it was a new chant that the team was encouraging.

And remember those New York Jets fans years ago heckling women as they were coming down the escalators at Gate D in MetLife Stadium in 2007 and asking them to reveal the body parts that most attracted them. It didn’t matter to these galoots that the women were with their children. Not to worry. It took the Jets just a few weeks to put a stop to that boorish behavior.

Whether we’re talking players or fans, sportsmanship has vanished in America faster than three Papa John’s pizzas at Rex Ryan’s house.

I’ve just resigned myself to the fact that it’s all about a new-found attitude. You know: My team’s better than your team, so go screw yourself.

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