Sports

Out There

"I was watching the Colts pummel the Jaguars on Monday night when I got that old sinking feeling.Actually, I was watching a bunch of commercials for cars, trucks, and beer, interupted occasionally by a football game.Maybe you know the old sinking feeling.It occupies the emotional landscape midway between anticipation and disappointment.Take Christmas.There was a time when I needed to be tranquilized between Dec. 10 and Dec. 25. I would try so hard to be good - to erase my mother's memories my previous 11 months of petty crimes and misdemeanors, that she would finally explode:Who are you? she'd holler. And what have you done with my son Dennis? Stop trying to help me cook dinner, go outside and tell Dennis that Santa already said he's coming to our house.I'd go, but I never completely trusted her. I knew exactly where I stacked up in the naughty and nice categories.All these years later, I still get a sense of excitement when December rolls around - still start a silent countdown, still start hoping for snow.But then I'll watch one too many crass, stupid commercials for toys or some shoot-em-up Christmas movie, or actually go to a mall to shop for Christmas, and that darn feeling sets in. Which brings me (finally) to the point of this column - which is mainly how the corporatization of athletics by entertainment and corporate interests has eroded our (my) interest in actually following athletics on television. That, plus how lucky we are on Whidbey to have so many sporting events to watch, commercial-free.Anyway, I, D. Patrick, do not need, nor want 123 commercials to interrupt my Monday night football game. I do not care to hear about the latest doping scandal live from Olympic Village in Sydney, Australia in between Nike commercials.Speaking of Nike, I'm also way over Tiger Woods and don't ever need to see a swoosh symbol again. I also truly believe that if another Japanese or Seattle billionaire tries to build another sporting palace on the public's dime, the repercussions will make the WTO fracas seem like a big neighborhood block party.But that's Seattle, a city that is 'world-classing' itself to death.Out here on Whidbey, sporting fans have almost a daily choice of potentially world-class athletes to watch and follow. And many of the events are free, or cost less than meal at Mickey D's. Sports here, at this level, are still about the game and not profits and ratings. And there are a lot of sports.This week for example, fans can watch Oak Harbor's unbeaten soccer team battle Mariner at Memorial Stadium (6:30 p.m. Thursday); the Wildcats' 2-1 swimming team maybe improve to 3-1 against Shorewood at Vanderzicht Pool (5 p.m. Friday); Coupeville's tennis team play South Whidbey in Coupeville (3:30 Friday); Oak Harbor's tennis team go against Snohomish (3:30 p.m. Friday); or travel to Everett Stadium to support the Wildcats' football team in a huge game against Cascade (7:30 p.m. Friday) or Coupeville sporting fans can go to Tacoma to see the Wolves' football team battle Charles Wright (5 p.m. Friday).Moreover, several local youth football and soccer teams play Saturdays at Oak Harbor's new, Fort Nugent Park (check eteamz.com/oakharborfootball for listings. And all the events are commercial-free, endorsement-free, swoosh-free events, interrupted only by time-outs and non-commercial breathers.Maybe that's why I've never experienced that sinking feeling at a local game. Or maybe it's because the priorities are more in order in small towns.By the way, I will be watching the Chiefs beat the Hawks next Monday night and I'm still hoping for snow for Christmas. "

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