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A roundup of news on sporting events, people and places in Southeast Michigan by columnist Jim Evans.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Lunkheads populate the locker rooms

Granted, there are lunkheads in all walks of life.
The locker room is not their exclusive domain.
The guy three cubicles over hasn’t been on time for work since Alexander Graham Bell sent his first text message while driving.
The woman in customer service couldn’t be less suited for her job; she has the personality of a cheese grater.
The boss is a wingtip-wearing example of the Peter Principle.
But my personal observation is there are more lunkheads per square foot in a locker room than anywhere else.
Sure there are plenty of good people wearing eye black and pads, but I think the air of entitlement some athletes carry is as obvious as an extra couple of sprays of Pierre Cardin cologne.
It’s always been that way, I guess. I remember years ago being in the press box at Tiger Stadium when a longtime employee of the club walked by sputtering. I asked what was wrong, and he told me that there was a woman at the stadium who was celebrating her 100th birthday and wanted to meet her favorite player. He was a member of the visiting New York Yankees, so this employee was assigned the task of asking the future Hall of Famer if he minded coming out of the locker room to say hello to the woman. The player seemed more than happy to oblige. When he popped his head out of the dugout, he immediately asked where were the television cameras? Told there weren’t any, he promptly did an about face and said “F that.” He disappeared down the corridor back to the locker room.
Detroit Tigers' fans swarm the field at Tiger Stadium after the home team beat San Diego to win the 1984 World Series.

That attitude is too prevalent among some athletes. Another time, a group of NBA players were at a soup kitchen in Detroit handing out turkeys to the needy. It was near Thanksgiving time, and all of the recipients were people to whom the turkeys, along with the canned yams, boxes of instant mashed potatoes, and accompanying pumpkin pies were definitely luxury items.
All but one recipient, that is. One of the NBA players was seen carrying a turkey under each arm to his car. He never asked, he just figured he was entitled to those turkeys. Forget the fact he made so much money he could’ve bought Butterball.
That attitude of entitlement is partly our fault. We treat athletes differently almost from day one. The 10-year-old kid who is the best pitcher in Little League is already fawned over. The top running back in the youth football league gets a free hot dog and a bag of popcorn. The middle school basketball player who is already 6-5 is approached by the high school coach and asked where he’s going to school.
Our priorities are out of whack. Does the smartest kid in the seventh grade get an extra handful of Tater Tots from the lady in the cafeteria? Is the first chair trombonist adored by the cheerleaders and voted as the homecoming king? Is anyone hanging around the work space of the company’s top mechanical engineer, waiting for an autograph or a picture with the star employee? Topps and Fleer should do cards for a lot more people than just athletes, you know.
How about fawning over the members of the armed services who literally risk life and limb? What about a trading card complete with bubble gum with the picture of the man who passes out bars of soap and toothbrushes at the homeless center, or the woman who scoops  mashed potatoes and gravy at the soup kitchen? Our stadiums are full, and our pews are half-empty. That says something, doesn’t it?
Our adulation is aimed at athletes. Count me among the lunkheads, I guess.
There is nothing wrong with cheering on the home team. Just do not blow out a candle and expect a birthday wish to be granted.


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