In a world where violence seems to be growing; terrorism threatens our freedoms; and public safety comes into question, sports should act as a welcomed and needed respite. The old adage rings true that when the world is unkind, sports provides us with a break from reality. NFL Sunday after 9-11, the World Series in 1989 in the Bay
Area after the earthquake, even as far back as the 1936 Olympic Games where Jesse Owens gave hope and pride to a people and a country when Europe was teetering on the brink of combustion.
We have always looked to sports to take us away from our problems—the world’s problems – because, and this may be hard for some to understand, sports isn’t real life. What happens on the court or the field is a game. It should be fun – for the players and athletes who are competing as well as for all us fans who cheer and pay attention.
A prime example of how sports does not behave like real life came this past weekend in the Chicago White Sox clubhouse.
Before we get on with the details of the whacky, unbelievable events from Saturday in Chicago, let me first ask how many of you have at one point or another disliked or disagreed with a boss’s expectation, mandate, or directive? Probably all of us fit in this boat. White Sox All-Star pitcher Chris Sale certainly fits in. The lefty hurler disapproved of management’s decision to put the players in 1976 throwback uniforms for Saturday night’s game at home against the Detroit Tigers. Fine. Probably not the only person unhappy or irritated about it – the unis are not the same breathable material they’re used to, they’re baggy, and I’m sure not all that comfortable. However, all teams in all sports do it – it’s called marketing and making money – and many players in all sports probably don’t particularly care for it. That’s an understatement when it comes to describing how Sale felt about it.
The Sox ace, reportedly, expressed his desire to not wear the jersey, and when the organization dismissed his opinion, Sale proceeded to shred his jersey as well as teammates’ jerseys with a knife. Yeah. That sounds like normal behavior. When’s the last time you took a machete to your work attire because you didn’t like it or it was uncomfortable? Can’t say I’ve ever heard of a guy on Wall Street ripping up his three-piece suit that the CEO wants him to wear because he’s uncomfortable. Not sure the last time I witnessed a UPS or FedEx driver pull out a Swiss Army knife on his uniform because he didn’t care for it.
The result: Sale was suspended 5 games (misses 1 start).
I don’t care about the suspension for the act – the team’s official statement was Sale was suspended and sent home for “destroying team equipment”. How about we just all be honest and suspend the guy or dock his pay or make him take classes for acting like a spoiled brat, like a child who didn’t get his way. You make millions of dollars (and I’m not arguing that he should abandon his principles or ethics or morals for the money) and you can’t throw on a jersey for a couple hours to go and do your job? And if you absolutely cannot, you couldn’t at least find another way of expressing yourself besides taking a shank to a bunch of shirts?
Of course, Sale’s agent immediately spun it in a positive way for his client – how Chris cares only about winning and no one wants to win more than Chris and no one’s a better teammate than Chris. (No mention of how no one is more immature than Chris or how no one has a shorter fuse than Chris.) Sale, himself, couldn’t even muster up one of those “celebrity apologies” we’ve all grown so accustomed to hearing. Basically, “if I offended anyone, I’m sorry”. No, his was more like, “I don’t regret standing up for my beliefs and I don’t regret putting winning first”. So what exactly are you apologizing for?
How is this real life? Where in the world does this story occur – aside from the sports world or Hollywood (which also is not real life)?
I love sports, pay attention to sports, play sports when I can and have played them since I was a kid. I will encourage my son to play sports. There are tremendous life lessons that can be learned from sports. But let’s not confuse sports for real life. When the buzzer sounds and the whistle blows, it’s back to reality. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with losing yourself in a game (playing or watching), but know that when it’s over real life is still there. Games are called games for a reason.
Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed — @brian22goodwin.