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You hear this all the time: “Why are sports so important?”

Ask a guy on the bus to name his favorite NBA team?

“I don’t have time for that.”

Ask your neighbor if he fills out a bracket for the Big Dance?

“You’re kidding, right? I’m too busy with taxes.”

The sad truth is people don’t engage in spectator sports because they’re bad spectators.

It has to be all about them to make a dent. How does that happen? Let’s get started.


People gave up on college basketball when the NBA allowed high school players into the draft. Those that hung around quit with the one and done rule.

Their feeling was the college game turned into a JV schedule when all the good players skipped school. Who wants to see a bunch of scrubs run the court and jack up threes. Good players only looked good because the best had already left the gym.

If fans wanted to see games with no defense they could watch an NBA All Star game. If they wanted to see the essence of fundamental basketball, they could watch the WNBA.

What do they miss by ignoring the NCAA tournament? Sharing the ride of a lifetime with teams no one has heard of turning into teams no one can forget. Pick your Cinderella, put on the dancing slippers, and stand back.

When unknowns explode to the Final Four, and they’re your team, you’ll remember them the rest of your life. You’ll follow the players into the NBA and track their careers.

Put on your Duck gear and think back to the years of Luke and Luke for inspiration.


The complaint: “Teams out of the playoff picture just mail it in and collect their pay.”

If that’s what you see watching the Portland Trail Blazers, get new glasses. Do you see Damian Lillard mailing it in? Has J.J. Hixon quit on the season?

Lillard, a four year college player, shines in a league full of high flyers and dead-eye shooters. He’s one of them. After a recent game on national TV even Shaq noticed.

“You’ve got some fans for Kobe, some for LeBron. Add Lillard to the list.”

The Diesel rolled out with Penny Hardaway in Orlando, Kobe in LA, D-Wade in Miami, and LeBron in Cleveland. He knows a game changer when he sees one. Mentioning Lillard in the same breath as his great teammates adds to the promise in Portland.

Unlike Kyrie Irving who seems more Dr. Office than Dr. J, Julius Irving, Lillard manages to stay on the court. Unlike Derrick Rose and his lost injury year, Lillard continues to blossom every night in his Rose Garden.

Pick a player from your favorite college team, or local pro team, and load your dreams on them. If they quit, you’re a quitter. When they lose, you’re a loser. Trust your judgement enough to pick the right player and ride that roller coaster.


Maybe you’ve had enough of big time basketball? No one has ever explained why college only has two halves and no quarters. You don’t like the three point line any more than you like the little half circle under the hoops to keep defenders from camping out.

For all sports fans who’ve grown disappointed in their favorite players and teams, why not pick a sport that suffers as much as you?

Pick a sport that hits the door first when colleges make athletic budget cuts, or add new sports. Pick a sport so downtrodden even the Olympics kicked it out.

Desperate times require desperate measures and your new sport is perfect. It has team dynasties and individual super stars who shine alone. It’s super competitive where winning brings on delirium and losing veers toward depression.

Most of all, your new sport is not something you’ll want to copy. Every basketball fan steps outside at halftime and shoots a hoop and they’re balling with the big boys. Every race fan can take a break during a 500 miler to go outside and start their truck and they’re NASCAR-ing.

Tune into the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships to see your new sport. You’ll want to go out to the yard and drill takedowns, or clear the furniture in the living room to see who can turn who, but don’t.

These athletes have arms and legs that do things yours can’t do. Instead of a trip to the Emergency Room with a torqued shoulder like Cleveland’s Irving, or a blown up knee like Chicago’s Rose, these guys play through with shoulders and knees that ought to give out but don’t.

If you’re watching matches and feel the need to bar an arm, sink a half, or just cross-face your friends, don’t get carried away. Be glad you chose to watch wrestling and leave the hard stuff to the wrestlers. Why? Because there’s nothing easy about it.

If you want to change your game, sometimes you need to change your playground.

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About David Gillaspie
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