My last blog past came right after the IOC announced its recommendation to drop wrestling from the Olympics. I have been a fan of wrestling since I watched Dan Gable, Wayne Wells, and that legendary group of US wrestlers in the 1972 Olympics, and I became a wrestler myself that same year at the age of 12. I coached my sons and others for 15 years.
The time with my own sons was an inspiring father/son journey full of ups and downs, self-sacrifice and self-discipline, and monumental moments of heart and determination overcoming great odds in victory in between moments of great defeat. They had Olympic aspirations, and one of my sons has competed for years at the Olympic level.
I and my sons have participated in the world’s oldest sport, the purest form of sport, man against man, will against will, through hundreds and thousands of grueling hours of practice, back-breaking will-breaking work, forgoing food and drink to make weight for competition. We did these things for an earthly prize, a medal or trophy and the satisfaction of knowing that “I prevailed”.
But there is another story. There is something much greater than all this.
When I was a kid, I was a true sports fan. I read books from the 50’s and 60’s of improbable feats of heroism by ordinary athletes and teams. I religiously watched the Cubs, Bears and Blackhawks play on television and listened on radio. The thrill of victory and agony of defeat ran through my veins. I swung a baseball bat for hours alone perfecting my swing and pitched tennis balls endlessly against a garage or brick wall with visions of a major league career running through my head. I galloped through backyard football games with a ball tucked under my arm like the ghost of Gale Sayers, replaying in my mind each night the highlight reel of my performance. I even played makeup hockey games with any objects I could find for pucks and sticks.
My idealistic world of sports began unraveling when Wertz terminated the contract with WGN, relegating hockey to the snowy underworld of UHF TV. I was probably 9 or 10. I lost my taste for hockey and never regained it. A long, slow divorce with my love of sports had begun. Continue reading “A Long Slow Divorce”→