Old Lives Matter
But Time is One of Their Worst Enemies
This is not an article that is intended to compete with the other Lives Matter issues facing the world today. It is about aging gracefully in the sports world whether as a player, announcer, owner or other role.
Note the quote below and try to put a sports figure’s name to it without going to the bottom of the article to find its source.
"It's a tough time to be in the sport. It really is. It's probably a good time for me to step aside. Because I'm old-school and it will never be the way it was. And I don't think I can tolerate the way it's going to be."(1)
Today I was watching a rain delayed golf tournament where they play back the previous year’s event and I noticed that golf announcer Gary McCord (it was on CBS) was on the 2019 broadcast and not on the 2020 rain delayed one. So I googled Gary McCord and subsequently found out that he was dropped from the CBS golf announcing team. Mr. McCord feels he was fired really. To me this is a loss for CBS, from my perspective, since his manner of announcing was quite funny and interesting. His insight into the book Golf for Dummies is the reason I was ever able to break 100 and eventually 90 (infrequently) in my personal golf game. Apparently CBS executives thought CBS golf was getting stale and it was time for a change. I think they made it staler really without Gary McCord.
But it wasn’t Gary McCord who said the words in the quote above, but one could see that it could easily have been except he would be considerably more expansive in his response adding numerous witty, sarcastic and blue-toned adjectives to make his point. I miss him already and will look around for something more interesting than CBS golf for my sports fix but that is harder to do in these times and especially when Mother Nature makes the only two events on this day postponed or delayed. Actually, golf coverage on TV has a calming influence and often results in a solid nap for my old bones.
Canadian sports viewers might think that Don Cherry, former NHL announcer, player and coach, might have been the source of the quote but his true followers would quickly see that it didn’t have the feel of his locker-room manner of speaking. I think he was fired more for the same reasons that Gary McCord was let go and they took the interpretation of his words regarding the audience not buying Remembrance Day poppies as a good excuse for dropping him. Don is most definitely old school and the times are much different now and so he is in forced retirement or limbo depending on who you talk to.
NASCAR on Fox is not the same this year for many reasons and certainly COVID-19 is the most obvious reason it is not the same. In an effort to compete for the looming sports audience out there they have tried eRacing (basically, computer generated racing with real NASCAR drivers at the wheel) with open microphones on the drivers there and since expanded it to drivers, spotters and crew chiefs in the live events (when it isn’tarainin’). You would think they might have learned from the computer racing but they filled the rain delay (subsequently postponement) with clips from previous races filled with bleeped out\stroked out F-bombs and other not-for-family-viewing information that I will call locker room banter.
Some things should be kept in the locker-room, but in the heat of the moment in a sports event aka war, battle, challenge things can get heated very quickly and it will be a matter of time before another casualty of the open-mike will end or severely hamper the future of one of its members (and not just in NASCAR).
And the one and only Darrell Waltrip might agree with me and he would have been asked to leave his announcing post if he were still there for he is author of the above quote prior to his announced “retirement”. He struck me as a southern gentleman and often bit his tongue on many issues but, after reading his interview, I get the sense that he may have been pushed or at least politely nudged into retirement. I miss his approach, insight and knowledge of the routes of NASCAR and look forward to a nice nap tomorrow when the postponed race is run then, assuming Mother Nature is willing.
I’m sure you can think of other people in sports and other walks of life that have been put out to pasture due to their age and could easily utter a slightly modified version of the quote above. It is truly a shame because the wealth of their knowledge is mostly lost even if they write a book or two, since most everybody today would never read this far into this or any other story.
OK enough of my version of everyone is entitled to my opinion and maybe I will watch the finish of the golf event (7:30 pm). There is nothing else on and the narration is pretty stale except for maybe Vance. Golf needs to maybe get a show covering a live golf tournament with Miller, McCord and Feherty. I’d watch that. Instead, I’ll listen to Faldo and maybe ease into another nice nap.
When it is all said and done, at the end of the day and, more often than not (plentiful expressions of old sports’ announcers jargon) it all comes down to the fact that as one gets older your support group moves on for numerous reasons and a new group comes into power that has its own network. The new group considers their way to be better and thus the old lives are now at conflict with the new direction. A fierce desire is pitted against decades of experience and ultimately the group who holds the trump card (more often than not, money) wins out for now until the cycle continues.
(1) (Source: ESPN interview on NASCAR legend Darrell Waltrip’s retirement) (Google it for the full article) OK honest answer. How many of you jumped to the bottom of the story when I told you to wait. Go find your Mom and get her to use the wooden spoon on you. (I wish she was around to do that but she would be really busy elsewhere. The whole freakin’ world needs a good whack on the back of the head for how they are acting. Darrell would probably agree.)