NEW YORK, NY – Growing up in the sixties and seventies, life seemed a whole lot simpler. Sports were played for the enjoyment as we did our best to imitate our favorite sports hero when playing each game.
For me it was John “Hondo” Havlicek in basketball, Al Kaline and Denny McClain (on the field) in baseball, Bullet Bob Hayes and Roger Staubach in football and Walt Tkaczuk and Rod Gilbert on the NY Rangers. While Tkaczuk may not have been a household name, the mere fact that there was a Ranger named Walter was a “cool” thing to me as I was the ONLY WALTER in school or in the neighborhood!
Note that I used the term “sports hero” and not “role model.” Back in our day, your role models were parents, older siblings, coaches, etc. The people who allowed and encouraged us to be, well, kids.
Sports heroes? We spent our summers trading cards and riding our bikes as fast as physically possible with those cards attached to the spokes of our bikes! Sweeter sounds, there were none. Debates and yes, sometimes fist-a -cuffs would ensue over whose cards were better. Life was simple. Those cards were worth a million dollars of great memories about playing the games for shear fun. Not one kid ever spoke about college scholarships based on those on the field talents. That was school stuff. Very important but the sports ticket was not the priority. Things fell into place in high school for those whose exceptional skills stood out. That was life.
When did those cards become such commodities that children were no longer allowed to play with them and use them as sound effects? When did the bubble gum stop coming in those packs? I’m tracking much of the guilt to that generation who entered adulthood in late seventies through the eighties. The generation of fancy cars, bigger houses and excessive spending. Somehow there is a mirror in front of me, projecting a frowning image my way.
While I must raise my hand as a major contributor to the economy, I can also take some of the blame for getting caught up with specialized sports.
I never told my kids what sports to play and let them find their own level. I did spend probably too much attention and too much money on sports camps as well as those Dallas Cowboys rookie cards of the triplets. (Aikman, Smith & Irvin ) .
So what are those cards worth today?
Not as much as that Nolan Ryan rookie card that composted years ago somewhere in the suburbs of Edison, NJ where he spun proudly in the spokes of my Schwinn one speed bike.
Just the other day I asked a colleague how his daughters U9 girls travel soccer team was doing. He spoke of certain mutiny as the team was NOT winning like they had in the past. Player’s parents were already working back room deals to leave for better teams.
Where have our friggin minds gone? Save the children! Let’s pull it back ….
After all, we are now designing and buying all these retro ass cars to re live the sixties and seventies. So, why can’t we kick it modified old school with our kids again?
Get out and throw a damn ball with your kids. Ride bikes and throw a David Wright or LeBron card in the spokes with a clothes pin and show em how it’s done! Put down the cell phones, iPads and video games and bring back punch ball, stick ball or kick ball on your block or playground.
What do you think? Throw some comments and join our collection of bully pulpit sports pundits with some good old problem solving and SAVE the next GENERATION.
Now for my weekly Grinding Ax “p.s…” stuff:
-What happened to actual baseball double headers? Teams act like they are ultra generous with these “single pay” make up double headers….What?
-Why does the NHL allow a Ref from Montreal actually call the Rangers -Habs game? Hmmm… 8 Habs Power Plays to only 3 for NY???
-Is PK Subban on the Canadian Olympic… Dive Team?
-Is Hockey becoming the new soccer with all the faking ?
-Coming soon, our cameras follow Smallest Matt during his free hair analysis with Sy Sperling…
Tune in tomorrow for the Pithy Pen of one Angry Ward.