'BAMA SLAMMA: Still a Proud Sports Fanatic

From what I hear, the past month has been the worst in the history of sports.

Forget about the unfairness and inherent greed of the BCS system. That’s “only a scratch,” to quote the infamous Black Knight, in the larger scheme of things.

Bob Ley must be drooling. He has enough Outside the Lines fodder to tide him over until retirement.

Let’s run down the list of embarrassments.

One, the NHL has ceased to exist as we knew it—a major sports league that, now mired in a billionaires’ lockout, once owed its wild popularity to a cultish blue-collar ethic.

Two, Ron Artest, the craziest basketball player alive, gave an innocent fan—and the NBA’s image—a severe beat-down.

Three, Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds became baseball’s third and fourth former MVPs, respectively, to admit using steroids.

Remember the outcry about Monday Night Football and Nicollette Sheridan? Sooo overrated.

Baseball, in particular, has become the poster child for screwing itself.

“It’s gotten so that baseball gets off to a good start, and then, ‘Bam,’” said MLB home run king Henry Aaron, a jaded former apologist for Bonds, to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Something sends it rocking and reeling. I just wish we could have about four or five years without experiencing any of this stuff.”

Hammerin’ Hank is the consummate class act and, basically, my hero. In this particular case, he’s dead wrong.

Baseball didn’t get bammed.

Barry Bonds and Ron Artest, no matter what anyone says, are no bigger than the games they play.

Two weeks ago, I sat courtside with my pal Pat Coyne to cover the Harvard women’s basketball team’s game against URI.

It was the season home-opener. A nice crowd settled in.

After trailing for the final 15 minutes of the game, the Crimson blew the roof off Lavietes, sabotaging a four-point URI lead in the final minute.

In the game’s most intense, exhilarating moments, point guard Jessica Holsey willed Harvard to victory.

My inner, primal sports fan was satisfied.

Tell me Ron Artest ruined basketball, because I sure as hell don’t believe it.

Every year, with each new scandal, doomsayers predict the demise of sports fandom and uniformly act surprised when that doesn’t occur.

You’ve heard the hogwash—that Ripken, McGwire and Sosa rescued the game of baseball from the depths of the 1994 MLB players’ strike; that, without a baby Jordan, basketball remains in danger; that the early exit strategies of star college ballers render amateur athletics obsolete.

The power of American sports is too rich and dignified to be brought down by isolated abuses of trust.

In this way, people have overestimated the negative effects of the recent scandals.

Harvard College boasts 41 varsity intercollegiate athletic teams and 1,300 varsity and JV athletes.

Sports transfix—in a nonviolent and cohesive way—citizens across the globe.

If the same has been said about the world’s greatest cultural triumphs—music, art and literature—then why should we apologize for being sports fans at Harvard?

Thus, a message to all the sports nuts out there: soldier on, keep the faith and don’t be jaded—no matter what happens, and no matter what people tell you.

We still love sports, and we’re proud of it. No one can shake that.

—Staff writer Alex McPhillips can be reached at rmcphill@fas.harvard.edu. His column appears on alternate Wednesdays.