Lunatic Fringe: Sports Outside The Box

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The Outer Edges – Summer re-runs have started, there’s a lot of baseball, but this is also the time of year when other, lesser known sports are going on, and this weekend seemed to have a lot of them. Of course, not all of these are considered fringe, but I’m sure somewhere in the world they are.

The X-Games. As Bruce Springsteen said, summer’s here and the time is right for racing in the streets…and if that street is Figueroa Ave by the Staples Center, the time is also right for doing loop de loops on giant orange Hot Wheels tracks.

Is there anything more fringe than the X-Games? Okay, maybe Scottish log-flipping, Afghan buzkashi, the Siena Palio, or most of the Olympics, but so-called “action sports” have to be right up there. Me and my kids got caught up in watching something called Step Up on Friday night, in which dudes try to jump their dirt bikes straight up over a high bar. If obscenity was once described as something holding no redeeming social value, this event is downright filthy. Fascinatingly filthy.

Cycling. The Tour de France is under way, and while I’ve kind of gotten into this whole cycling thing lately, even I wonder if it would be better if they jumped their bikes straight up over a high bar. The top Americans haven’t gotten off to a very good start, but 23-year old Tejay Van Garderen is wearing the white jersey of the Best Young Rider, and as far as we know he’s using all his own blood! For some reason, however, the first two stages aren’t even in France at all, but Belgium. I don’t know much about Belgium, except what Monty Python tells me.

Golf. Is Tiger officially back? He’s playing better than anyone right now, after being on the fringes of the sport, and society, for a few years…almost completing a well structured character arc for him. There are two things we love more than building an athlete up to iconic status. The first is tearing them down. The second is rooting for them even harder after a period of humility and hard work and perceived redemption. I only bring this up because I could’ve seen the same thing happening for LeBron James, who seemed confused by his villain status since his “Decision” to be a total jerk…but I could’ve seen him hanging on and enduring years of failure until the public started rooting for him to finally win one. By doing it this year, however he’s screwed that all up. Now he’ll always be a villain.

Soccer. I’ve got some Italian in me (thanks to my Sicilian grandfather), enough to make me a bit of a pizza snob, and also to want to root for the Azurri. Unfortunately, the Italians also have traditionally played the kind of flopping, pack-it-in soccer that gives the sport a bad name and makes it very difficult to like them. This year’s Euro team, however, didn’t have their usual tough defense and thus they were forced to finally play some aggressive, beautiful futbol. They stunned the Germans in the semis, always a fun thing, but unfortunately the defending World Cup champs Spain destroyed them 4-0 yesterday. And speaking of blue and not being able to score…

Baseball. Cheesy Bruin made reference to this yesterday, but as your West Coast corespondent I would be remiss if I didn’t make mention of the Dodgers incredible run of ineptitude. Before last night they’d gone as long without scoring as Short Matt at a rugby convention on Fire Island.

Someone always in the heart of the thick of it, Grote2DMax is up tomorrow.

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West Coast Craig reports from Hollywood with an endearingly laid back style. A happily married father of two little boys, WCC has an avocado tree in his yard, plays the hot corner in a "Valley" hardball league and always manages to take cool sports-related mini road-trips, often with his immediate clan. He hails from Oneonta, NY but has been "So very L.A." for twenty years, so his sports teams are the Yankees AND the Dodgers, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the L.A. Lakers and the Colorado Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques. WCC loves bacon-wrapped hotdogs and can touch his heel and his ear... with his hand.

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