A Depressing Fall For Sports

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A fan gets the crowd going at Penn State's Beaver Stadium before their game with the University of Nebraska on Saturday. (AP)
It's been harder to cheer for sports in the wake of recent scandals and labor disputes. (AP)

From my conversation with Scott Raab, the author of The Whore of Akron, you might have gotten the impression that Raab is a bitter fellow given to sulking and venomous attacks. It's a characterization even Raab himself might not deny, though it's incomplete.

Certainly he has made art of his rage against what is hollow and phony about the NBA in general and James in particular. But at several luminous moments in the book, Raab gratefully acknowledges his blessings. He is astonished again and again by his wife's kindness, and of his young son he writes: "This boy. This miracle. To become a father at the age of 47 is to know how close I came to missing out altogether, to never knowing how much I could love and how much I could be loved."

Especially in this hyperbolic chronicle of the desperate misery of Cleveland fans and the personal umbrage Raab takes at the feckless narcissism of his nemesis, these passages glow. Scott Raab's own physical miseries, mistreatment by various authority figures, and insults real and imagined…it's all more extreme than most of us will know, and thank goodness for that. But Raab is also determined, even in the teeth of the storm – especially in the teeth of the storm - to remind us of all there is to love and celebrate.

In the context of sports, we have lately been bombarded with accounts of the alleged sexual abuse of children and personal and institutional irresponsibility so sickening that we turn to stories of the NBA lockout for relief. For those of us in the in the business of games, it feels a little ironic that it's coming up to the traditional time for counting blessings. But on Thursday I'll sit at a table with family that I love and friends I treasure, and I will think with gratitude about the extraordinary people with whom I get to work, and the wise and funny people I get to meet, and the books I get to read, and, of course, the games I get to watch in the context of this alleged work.

I hope you will be similarly engaged in the celebration of those you cherish and of whatever else encourages you to look forward to the next day.

Happy Thanksgiving.

This segment aired on November 19, 2011.


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