Sweetness And LightSweetness And Light The Score On Sports With Frank Deford

Distracted by Distractions

When Senator Larry Craig ...

I know, I know. You don't want to hear any more about Sen. Craig, especially when I am supposed to provide a pleasant respite from people like Sen. Craig. But bear with me. So:

Whereas I could not accurately predict the outcome of any game in any sport, when Sen. Craig was preparing to give his intent-to-resign speech, I could confidently predict — and be absolutely right — that the reason he would give was that he had become a distraction.

Whenever politicians, who always call themselves "public servants," (and, boy, does that curdle my milk. Why can politicians alone humbly call themselves "servants?" Please. I might just as well call athletes "fans' servants" or myself a "listeners' servant") get caught with their hand in the cookie jar or their feet where they are not supposed to be, they depart public service not with apology, but by selflessly claiming that they have become a distraction.

Sen. John McCain recently said, "Politics is all sports metaphors .... It's sickening, almost." But that works both ways. Now sports is all about distraction. And this is the high season for distraction rhetoric, because it is football time, and football is all business. It brooks no distraction.

Distraction will rear its ugly head, though. Recently, the former running back of the New York Giants created a huge distraction for the current Giants by criticizing the quarterback. The quarterback snapped that the running back had himself been a distraction last season. That is the ultimate gridiron insult, to be called distractable.

And the sporting press is always on the prowl for distraction. Invariably, for example, the only issue during the first week before the Super Bowl is which team will be less distracted. Actually, the greatest distraction at the Super Bowl is being asked distracting questions about the grim possibility of being distracted.

But it is not only football. Every year, on schedule, there is always great manufactured anguish at the U.S. Open tennis tournament that the poor European players will be distracted by all the New York cacophony. This summer, too, distraction speculation ran rife that Tiger Woods' impending fatherhood would distract him from sinking easy putts. Good grief, so distraction-prone was he supposed to be, that after awhile I thought Tiger himself must be carrying the baby. And there are certain players, notably Kobe Bryant of the Lakers, who are, allegedly, serial distractionists.

Hey, it's a multitask world. Lets all of us, public servants and fans' servants alike, learn to work through distraction. I make this heartfelt plea as someone who has devoted so much of my life to listeners' service.

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Sweetness And LightSweetness And Light The Score On Sports With Frank Deford
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