Tonight the Cavaliers take another step in their very real run at the NBA title. Everyone is excited and it’s great for Cleveland. I won’t be watching. It’s not that I don’t care; I hope they win; it’s just that I don’t care.

My lifelong love affair with sports died with none of the passion that had fueled it. Like looking back through the prism of a failed marriage—can’t quite remember when and where it went south for the last time. Trying to figure out just when Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall. Wondering if and when it could have been saved.

I used to live and breathe sports. 24/7 before people said “24/7.”

In a town short on heroes I had my idols anyway: Rocco Domenico Colavito, Jim Brown, Jerry Lucas, Mohammed Ali (nee Clay)….the best.

In a world devoid of cable tv, rec centers and virtual games, my only outlet was sports.
We lived across the street from the school and spent endless days and evenings playing “Swift Pitching” against the wall. Our mother’s porch light was the signal to come home for the night. How many times did my brother and I feign blindness from the setting sun, just to eek out an extra inning or two?

Bad weather meant basketball in Wieder’s garage. He crafted an indoor court encompassing two levels of his split-level home. Hey, his entire estate was a mecca.
In springtime we could tee balls off his front lawn, down on to Bayard Road. I wonder if it ever occurred to Alan that a 9-iron into a moving vehicle might hurt someone. Fore!

I played year around and when I wasn’t playing I was a fan in the truest “fanatic” sense. Summer nights were filled with Cocoa Grahams, milk and WERE baseball. I’d fall asleep with the Tribe behind but wake up every morning, run and grab the Plain Dealer and still be devastated to read they’d lost again. Fall brought OSU football, (even before the Browns), and my father taught me to bleed in scarlet and gray.

Winter in Cleveland was no different. We had no basketball, but I found a team. Snowy nights were spent straining through the static of KMOX radio out of St. Louis. Harry Caray and the St. Louis Billikens (whoever they were).

This is not just the euphoric recall of youth –it’s been a lifetime of devotion. Hal and I had no money but found our way to the 1963 Allstar game. I had no ticket, but found a scalper and wound up in the Dog Pound at “The Drive.”

When Wayne Woodrow Hayes died Michael missed school. We sat in the closed end of The Horseshoe with 15,000 others paying our respects to the coach.

But today as the Cav’s tip-off approaches the thrill is gone….”…Gone away from me…”

Maybe it was the baseball strike of 1994 when the Indians’ season abruptly aborted. They were finally good and greed cancelled out the post-season.

Or maybe it was that November day in 1995 when Browns’ owner Art Modell stood on a tarmac in Maryland, smugly announcing to the cameras and the world that he would prostitute the team and take it to Baltimore.

Or maybe, just maybe it was the way Ohio State, my beloved Ohio State, treated my kid when she was victimized on its campus. Instead of protecting her as one of its own, the administration played corporate politics and tried to bury both the issue and my baby under the scarlet of its rug.

The signs were there. Early this decade my son called me on the first Saturday of March Madness. He was in front of his television; I was at Great Lakes Mall. “Dad,“ he urged:
“While you’re there maybe you can buy a penis.”

More recently, on February 3, 2008 The New York Giants stunned the world by upsetting the unbeaten Patriots in the Super Bowl. I found out about it at 10:00 that night as I exited an A.A. meeting.

The toothpaste is long out of the tube.

It may not have been the strike, or Modell, or even the crap in Columbus. It may not even be a function of my age. Many of my friends remain rabid.

It may just be that my priorities have changed. And I can live with that.

2 Responses to “THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED”

  1. Stacy says:

    Your priorities have never been more in place. If this is you without a passion for sports, so be it, I’ll take it. I love you.

  2. Aunt Helen says:

    Me too

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