The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports


March 13, 2010

It’s getting hard to find athletes kids can admire

Somewhere in America as you read this, there’s a kid trying to hit a rubber ball with a broomstick and pretending to be someone else.

At least I hope the kid is doing that instead of playing a video game.

With the tremulous voice of an imaginary sportscaster providing descriptive commentary in the background, the youngster becomes one with a hero. Every swing results in a World Series-clinching home run in the bottom of the ninth in Game 7.

It has always been that way, of course.

Before I pretended I was Duke Snider of the Dodgers, and my best friend did the same with Mickey Mantle of the Yankees, a different generation of boys and girls envisioned they were Babe Ruth or Babe Didrikson Zaharias.

How many young basketball players _ all alone and dribbling a ball in front of a hoop in their driveway _ had thoughts like these:

“There he is, fans, Michael Jordan (or Larry Bird or Magic Johnson) ... only seconds on the clock, down by one point. He drives to his right, makes an impossible move to his left ... three ... two ... one ... he shoots!

“HE SCORES! Michael Jordan has done it again. The crowd is going wild!”

Of course, if the kid’s shot didn’t go through the driveway hoop, he had the pretend announcer say, “Wait! There was a foul on the play. Michael Jordan still has a chance to win the game. There he is at the line, cool as a cucumber ...”

When I was pretending to be Duke Snider, I had never heard of author F. Scott Fitzgerald, who said: “Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.” It was probably just as well.

Lately it hasn’t been terribly easy for kids to have heroes, to want to fantasize about being someone else.

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