Say It Ain't So, Guys

I’ve been a sports fan all my life. Of course being raised in the Southeast we took our college football very much to heart and it would be hard to be raised in North Carolina as I was and not be Dixie proud of the legendary brand of basketball that’s played in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

We never had soccer and the closest hockey team was probably in Philadelphia, but my home town of Wilmington, NC had a small time professional baseball team called “The Wilmington Pirates” which played in the Tobacco State League made up of small towns in the coastal and Piedmont areas.

We loved our Pirates; we even had our own “Casey at the bat “ character named Hoggy Davis who had the ability to regularly pop one over the fence and he was the hero of the peewee generation.

I spent many memorable nights watching the Pirates play under the lights at Legion Field and developed a love for the game and a great respect for those who played it well.

We finally got a big league team in the South when the Milwaukee Braves became the Atlanta Braves and brought “Hammerin’ Hank” Aaron to town where he would go on to break Babe Ruth’s home run record using nothing but a Louisville Slugger and a God-given talent for the game, no steroids or performance enhancing drugs.

Atlanta Braves baseball was a regular part of my day. I was living in Nashville by that time, and one of the local stations carried their games and if I wasn’t working at the time they were on I was listening.

My love affair with baseball was strong and abiding, that is until they decided to go on strike some years back.

I felt betrayed that the owners and players I had supported for so long couldn’t come to some kind of arrangement to continue the season.

The upshot is, that though I still like baseball, I have never been quite as much of a fan since the strike. I found that there were other things I could devote my time to, that I enjoyed and kinda got out of the habit of being the kind of fan that hung on every pitch.

Now I make no bones about it, football is my passion. I watch the college games on Saturday; the pro games on Sunday and Monday and have had season tickets to the Tennessee Titans games since they moved to the new stadium in 1999.

The very idea that the well-compensated football players and the multi-millionaire owners can’t settle their differences without a lockout is beyond my comprehension.

It’s not as if there isn’t enough money to go around.

It’s time for these owners and players to realize something that I realized many, many years ago. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. You’re in a business that depends on public support and if you lose that, you’re out of work.

The Titans have never had a game in their new stadium that hasn’t been a sellout and with the exception of a very few teams around the league I think that’s pretty much the case.

Now if you guys expect the fans to plunk down their hard earned money for your expensive tickets, get out of the sandbox, stop playing around and get this thing settled.

Anything less is unacceptable.

Column Sports