Sports column: Date sparks changes in basic beliefs

I’ve been re-evaluating some of my core beliefs. Hey, it’s never too late for a guy to change his mind, right?
Here’s just a few things I’ve come to realize I’ve been all wrong about:
The Yankees. Hey, what’s more American than a dynasty built on the almighty dollar? Sure, the Sox got lucky a couple times in the past decade, but the cream is rising to the top now. I’m going to enjoy watching all those poor, penny-pinching small-market teams coughing on the Yankees’ dust this year and for years to come. And their fans are certainly the most compassionate and knowledgeable in all of sport, and all those steroid allegations are just because other teams were jealous.
Fenway Park. What a dump. The seats are cramped and uncomfortable and don’t have cupholders, and most of them don’t even face the field. Who really believes that Ted Williams hit that red seat out in right center? And what’s with “Sweet Caroline” in the 8th inning? I mean, Neil Diamond? Really?
The Celtics. Isaiah Thomas was right: Bird would have been just another guy if he weren’t white. Pierce is over-rated. Russell, Heinsohn, Sam Jones and The Couz wouldn’t be any good if they played today, and Auerbach’s teams only won because he got lucky. Plus he bent the rules. And that cigar thing? Beyond arrogant. And how corny are those green sneakers?
Sportsmanship. Who cares about it? Like NFL visionary Al Davis says, “Just win, baby!” Why shouldn’t middle school girls’ basketball teams keep pressing when they’re winning by 20 points in the third quarter? They can always learn to play in the half-court later. Taunting and trash-talking is entertaining — why don’t we see more of it at the high school level? What a great way to boost attendance. Isn’t it great when Middlebury College students break out the “You suck” chants?
Parental over-involvement. Why should it matter that a coach has studied a sport for years and observes the athletes’ performance and attitude at several practices a week? Someone who sits in the stands and never sees a practice has just as much understanding of tactics and athletes’ abilities as the coach, and should have the right to express those opinions at length to anyone who will listen.
And parents should always believe their kids’ side of the story in a dispute with the coach. Also, they should always remember the best time to engage the coach in an animated discussion about their kids’ playing time is right after a game on the sideline or on the court, especially if the game was really tough. What better moment could there be?
The value of athletics. Back when my oldest was in elementary school, she announced she would be an athlete. I said she should, among other things, keep playing the saxophone and singing. Silly me. Obviously, sports clearly offer much more to kids than theater, debate, music, art, dance, volunteering, 4-H Club, Future Farmers of America and many other activities that I could list. 
And remember, Thursday is April Fools’ Day.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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