Zalaznick: Stooge on the couch |

Zalaznick: Stooge on the couch

Matt Zalaznick
Vail CO, Colorado

I’m a sucker.

I am a sports fan.

I’m a sucker.

Soccer in the U.S. is a now one-man media blitz. Most people know David Beckham and his pop-star wife have arrived, but not even sport fans can tell you the name of the team he’s playing for.

And who’s even seen an L.A. Galaxy game?

America’s latest shallow fascination with pro soccer will fade as soon as Beckham has a season-ending knee injury unless someone figures out how to get rid of those fascinating 0-0 ties and all that running backward.

A basketball ref was allegedly doing what all of us who have ever played a down, inning or half of organized sports have always suspected ” making biased calls.

As kids, refs’ bad calls in little league baseball and soccer were supposed to teach us that, though life isn’t fair, we’re supposed to try our best anyway.

What does the NBA ref accused of rigging games on behalf of gamblers teach us? Life would be fair if the refs weren’t on the take? Or, there’s no point in playing hard because the ref’s gambling habit makes our effort irrelevant if the bookmakers aren’t on our side?

The moral is there’s no point in watching.

Hockey is unscathed scandalwise, but has so drastically lost the nation’s interest it has been relegated to the boonies of cable. ESPN would rather broadcast a rock-paper-scissors contest than the Stanley Cup playoffs and the local sports pages of big city newspapers run high school swimming stories over articles about the home hockey team.

(Until the next goon takes a cheap shot and breaks somebody’s neck.)

I was a high school swimmer, and I still think that’s embarassing for hockey. Perhaps someone can inject a little life into those drab between-period interviews.

Many of baseball’s biggest stars, it turns out, were cheating as all sorts of records fell during the last decade. But I’m a sucker and I have still watched every inning of and celebrated my hometown Florida Marlins’ two World Series victories over the last several years.

What a dope.

My father talks about the days when his hometown Yankees were actual local heroes rather than one-man media empires who weren’t satisfied with contracts worth more than the gross domestic product of Spain.

So they drank a little too much ” it didn’t help them on the field.

Many football players aren’t just drinking and doing drugs. They and members of their entourages are being accused and convicted of violent crimes, animal abuse and other really sleazy stuff.

But, like a moron, I watch Monday Night Football every week.

Don’t I have anything better to do? Like go root on the nurses in the emergency room or cheer for the teachers in our elementary schools or fly to Darfur and do the wave for relief workers?

But I’ll keep being partonized by these zillionares who ” aside from a committed few who really appear concerned with the game ” seem interested only in not getting hurt too badly and collecting their outrageous paychecks that, by the end of the season, won’t quite be outrageous enough and they’ll be forced to demand a trade or pout on the bench.

Forget the fans who’ve bought up all their hometown jerseys. Screw the kids who imitate these, at best, mildly educated athletes in the schoolyard ” we all pretended to throw their touchdown passes and break their 80-yard runs and do their quarterback-sack dances.

Despite all this, I don’t know why but I’ll keep watching. Even after the next players’ strike or owners’ lock out or tainted home run record or dogfighting conviction.

At least I’m not a cycling fan.

Assistant Managing Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 748-2926, or

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