I Blame Muhammad Ali

I admit it. I am as “old school” as they come.

Yes, I long for the days when Ronald Reagan was in the White House and Jack Nicklaus was tearing up the PGA Tour.

What do you expect from a guy who doesn’t own an iPod, but whose CD player is dominated by Francis Albert Sinatra?

Perhaps more than anything, with the London Olympics in full-swing and another football season right around the corner, I wish I could watch a sporting event where the participants went about their business as professionals without feeling the need to call undue attention to themselves.

No pounding of chests and gawking for the cameras. No flicking of the bat followed by an exaggerated and elongated home run trot.

Most of all, no touchdown dances…

When I was a kid, my sports heroes were men who were team-oriented. They ran out their home runs briskly and with their head down. They scored a TD and simply handed the ball over to the nearest referee.

Even in individual sports like golf and tennis, the last thing a real sportsman did was try to show up his opponent. He simply wanted to win and to do it with class.

True champions played their best and usually came out on top. They let their record do the talking for them.

Sadly, that is no longer the case. And I blame Muhammad Ali for the mess we’re in.

Before the self-professed “Greatest” came onto the sports scene, most heavyweight champs were humble men like Joe Louis and Rocky Marciano. Men who pounded their opponents into submission and then walked quietly to a neutral corner.

I guess it wouldn’t be so bad if this modern-day epidemic of self-promoters were limited to the boxing ring or the football field. Unfortunately, it has infected many other areas of everyday life like business, entertainment and even journalism.

I almost forgot to mention politics, where the term “public service” is even more old-fashioned than I am.

Yes, forever gone are the days when athletes simply did their jobs quietly and proficiently. Today, it’s all about endorsements and style points.

The last time I looked, a lay-up and a dunk were both worth two points. However, lay-ups don’t get you on the highlight reel or featured on Sports Center.

Tragically, teenagers and even adolescents have noticed the difference, so expect the next generation of superstars to be even more pre-occupied with themselves.

Oh well, I guess I’ll just go for a drive in my DeSoto and listen to some Sinatra or Tony Bennett. Or maybe I’m in the mood for some Bobby Darin.

But for the record, I still think Louis would have beaten Ali.


116 thoughts on “I Blame Muhammad Ali

  1. Not at all, my friend. When he homered – like he did 714 times in his storied career – he almost always ran the bases quickly and with his head down. Watch the film reels and you'll see what I mean.

    However, I was talking about the overall atmosphere surrounding sports and many other areas of American life, not the antics of any one player or individual.

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