Living in Abilene for 19 years has had its perks. From realizing the greatness that is local restaurants to having the opportunity to build relationships with the great people who reside here, Abilene has served me well. But one of my favorite things about Abilene is the close proximity that everything is to everything else.
My family’s house is in a residential neighborhood right by Red Bud Park. The park’s landscape consists of a paved trail for pedestrians, a playground for children and an abundance of wide-open terrain, perfect for sports. That being said, when spring rolls around, the park is populated mainly by youngsters aspiring to be the next Babe Ruth while practicing with their little league baseball teams.
I love passing by and simply watching them play because of the joy they display while practicing. The smiles, giggles, jokes and even bumps and bruises that occur at little league baseball practices bring me joy because of the motives behind the actions.
These children know nothing more than enjoying the opportunity to unite as a team and play the game they love. The time they spend practicing is irrelevant, because they enjoy the experience and all that encompasses it. Even more, the children have a pure heart and equally pure intentions when playing, because they expect nothing more than a snow cone and a high-five after competing, the basics -Â what sports should be about.
The NFL is in a drastically deep hole right now. The league and the NFL Players Association aren’t seeing eye-to-eye on many issues, mainly a collective bargaining agreement, and a lockout is in effect. This attests to the sad fact that professional sports have become susceptible to material things like money. The focus has been taken off of the sport itself and shifted to topics unrelated to the game.
The current Collective Bargaining Agreement, the agreement between the NFL and its players, expired March 4, and the two sides have butted heads on terms for the new one. Issues within the agreement include salary cap, player benefits and revenue sharing – that’s it, mainly monetary disagreements. What has happened to the basic framework and structure of sports?
Sports should have no place for Armani suits, Rolex watches, Italian dress shoes or nine-figure salaries. Sports have become consumed by outside factors with no implications to the on-field product.
Alex Rodriguez currently is making forty thousand dollars every time he merely steps into the batter’s box, and the new Cowboys Stadium cost more than one billion dollars to build.
In the midst of all this, the Texas Rangers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Green Bay Packers all rank within the bottom five of team payroll in their respective league and are championship teams or atop their division.
That goes to show you that outside factors, such as money, are irrelevant to success.
I have a nine-year old cousin, Mikayli, who lives in northern California, whose dad played golf at San Diego State University and whose mom had a tryout with the U.S. Olympic Soccer team after her career at the University of California-San Diego. As you can imagine, Mikayli is quite the athlete, along with her two younger siblings.
She plays basketball, soccer and baseball, all successfully. When I talk with her on the phone though, the things she harps on the most when she’s updating me include what her number is and the jersey color of the team she’s on; not salaries, playing time, or even the outcome of the game.
Team color, jersey number and snow cones. Those are the things that are most important in sports – the basics.Â