Style and Etiquette Lacking in Sports Today
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
For sports fans, this is a pretty good time of year. There's the baseball playoffs and football is in full swing. Commentator Frank Deford is watching it all with a certain bit of unease.
Let us, this morning, contemplate style and etiquette, two--I'm afraid--elements sorely lacking in sport today. To begin with, celebrations. If you've been watching any of the baseball playoffs, you're only too aware that when a team clinches victory, it immediately proceeds to the clubhouse, where all the players thereupon act like total jackasses, spraying champagne all over one another and any interlopers fool enough to enter the premises.
When did this asinine exercise start? I know champagne is a celebratory beverage, but the idea is, well, yes, to drink it. Yes, a bit of the bubbly may spray forth when the cork pops, but champagne is to be imbibed. That's why it comes in bottles. You know what these forced exhibitions of gaiety remind me of? How many times have you been to a wedding reception, and when the cake is cut, the bride takes a piece of cake and smashes it into the groom's face? The first bride who did this--What, 50 years ago?--was original; now, not funny.
To make it all the even more ridiculous, now sheets of plastic are put up in the locker room before the post-game jubilee so to protect clothes from the champagne storms. So it seems even more contrived. Oh, well, it's not as stylized as the football rite of pouring the Gatorade tank onto the winning coach. Now this antic was the creative handiwork of Harry Carson, great Giants linebacker who first poured it on his coach, Bill Parcells, almost 20 years ago. Hey, funny then, very funny, especially since Parcells takes himself so seriously. Ever after, tired, tiresome, predictable. Please spare us.
But I am happy to see football players again. Compared to baseball players, they appear so stylish, with their stockings tucked nicely into their pants at the calf. Football players look smart. They look snappy. But baseball players--most all of them now wear their pants unbloused, hanging sloppily down to their spikes. They look like the common seamen who fought with Lord Nelson. But there are also a few baseball players who wear their pants bloused too high, almost to the knee. Hey, you're teams, you're supposed to dress alike. Some baseball pants now actually end up higher than basketball shorts. Now who would have ever imagined that? Modern basketball attire is itself both hideous and Darwinian, the survival of the loose-fittest. And have you gotten a gander at baseball dugouts late in the game? There is so much muck and debris in them, they look like Mississippi after the storm surge retreated.
Finally, whenever I get to speak to the Delphi Oracle, I will have only one question for that all-knowing one: Why do baseball players spit more than anyone else on this, our terrestrial home?
MONTAGNE: Comments of Frank Deford, senior contributing writer at Sports Illustrated. He joins us each Wednesday from member station WSHU in Fairfield, Connecticut.
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