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Sunday, January 12, 2003

Popcorn Notes

By Woodrow Williams

January 2, 2003

Please, don’t hold it against me, but I attended law school.

I graduated in 1992 and have practiced law with varying degrees of intensity ever since. Some would say, even at the height of my full-time practice, that my intensity rivaled that of the new moon. On the other side.

I had never met a group of people with a higher sense of self-worth, and with as little reason, as attorneys.

Until, that is, I started hanging around sports writers.

I have never been a fan of Texas Tech basketball coach Bobby Knight. The man is an outright punk. He preaches discipline and demands it from everyone except himself.

He got it right, however, when he told a group of sports reporters, "All of us learn to write in the second grade. Most of us go on to greater things."

He has also said that all sports writers were failed athletes and failed writers. That’s why they became sports writers.

He’s a punk, but an astute punk.

Rookie Detriot Lion quarterback Joey Harrington was once asked what percentage of sports writers were cool. Without missing a beat, he immediately said, "three."

He said that one word, "three," with bemused contempt, as if he were being very generous on the poor souls.

At the time I heard this on ESPN Radio, I was a full-time sports writer for the Asheboro Courier-Tribune, and I was personally hurt. I was wounded. I had been insulted.

ESPN Radio ran the clip over and over as a promo, so I had the chance to hear it again. And again. It hurt me every time.

But then I started doing the math in my head. Surely I could name three out of a hundred cool sports writers. I could only name one guy. And I was giving him the benefit of the doubt. Me.


Harrington was right. He had been generous.

Most sports writers are miserable human beings.

If you ever have the misfortune to walk accidentally into a press box at any major sporting event, you will be reminded immediately of the cantina scene in the original Star Wars. This is a frightening looking group, and there is more than one Jabba the Hutt.

Over half of these guys should be at a 12-step program for eating disorders.

The first step is admitting the problem. Back away from the buffet, fellas.

Overeaters’ Anonymous wecomes all:

"Hi, my name is Dave, I’m a sports writer, and I’m fat."

"HI DAVE!"

Of course, they knew you were a sports writer immediately after you complained about how bad the free coffee was.

I’m not making gratuitous fat jokes. I’m making gratuitous sports writer jokes.

They deserve it. Every last one. Without exception. Except me. (I’m still giving myself the benefit of the doubt.)

These guys grouse and grumble and complain while getting paid to watch sporting events others shell out good money to see: "These guys suck. I can’t believe I have to watch this lousy game."

These guys grouse and grumble and complain while parking in a free lot close to the arena while others shell out cash to park in the next county. "Sheesh, you mean I have to walk to the next gate from here?"

These guys grouse and grumble and complain while eating free food others shell out good money to eat. "Who made this crap? They expect me to eat this? The popcorn is too salty and the bottled water is too warm."

These guys grouse and grumble and complain while walking to the private restroom, while others wait in line down on the concourse. "Why’d they put the bathroom all the way down this hall? I might miss some of that lousy game and my free cookie misses me."

They will find something to complain about.

During the Carolina Hurricanes’ run to the Stanley Cup last year, a writer actually bitched because a playoff game went into overtime. It was cutting into his deadline. Cry me a river, Scoop.

This guy had become so jaded, he had lost so much perspective, he could not just enjoy the game. A sports fan gets excited about overtime. He certainly doesn’t whine about it from his free seat while his car is in a free lot while his free hotdog sits on his free plate.

Other jobs exist. Like pulling tobacco and pressing bumpers.

And deadline pressure? Keep those tears flowing, fat boys. Try finishing a legal document before the close of business that affects the outcome of someone on death row.

That hockey story really ain’t that big a deal. Perspective is an important commodity.

They need to relax. They need to enjoy the game. Most of all, they need to lighten up.

We all learned to write in the second grade.

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