Monday, December 31, 2012

IN AND OUT 2013: Sports

In: Physical education

For sports fans, learning is in: In 2012 we learned about the dangers of concussions, what “blood doping" is, the difference between sanctions and the “death penalty” in college football, and how many owners and hockey players it takes to settle a contract (lots, apparently). And as a result of those things, helmet-to-helmet contact, cycling, bowl games and hockey are all out. Especially if you’re trying to do them all at once. Multi-tasking is out.

We’ve also learned everything there is to know about Fenway Park, which is in thanks to its 100th anniversary. Fenway stands as a testament to the park’s wonderful and storied history, and to the fact that nobody’s ever been willing to put up the dough to build a new one. As to what goes on INSIDE Fenway Park … More of that below under “Out.”

Football, though, is in: Sunday Night Football is the highest-rated show going, even higher than Monday Night Football, because let’s face it, by Monday night we’re already exhausted. Tom Brady remains the in quarterback, with his supermodel wife, perfect little kids and steely good looks. So what if Eli Manning beat him in the Super Bowl? Winning the Super Bowl is out.

In other Patriots news, tight end Rob Gronkowski is in even though he’s been out: Fortunately, even though he’s been off the field, we’ve had plenty of Dunkin’ Donuts commercials to keep us from going into withdrawal. Oh, Gronk, you’ve done it again! Dunkin’ Donuts is in.

We’ve also learned the ins and outs of fantasy football, which is even more in than real football, at least among people looking for yet another way to distract themselves from their families. You know who you are.

Fantasy basketball is out, but real basketball is in, especially as long as hockey is out – if it weren’t for basketball we’d have to watch professional wrestling. (Professional wrestling is out.) LeBron James is back in despite ticking off all of Cleveland because, let’s face it, nobody is really concerned about how Cleveland feels. Cleveland is out.

And finally, we learned the tearful, inspiring back-stories of hundreds of Olympic athletes, who all had one thing in common: We forgot about them as soon as the Olympics ended. The exception is Michael Phelps, thanks to his 19 medals, and those Subway commercials. Subway is in.

In general, though, the Olympics are also in, because otherwise how could we justify them pre-empting all those episodes of “America’s Got Talent”? Talent is out.

OUT: Cheating and skipping class

Claiming that they weren’t really doing it and besides, everybody else was doing it is no longer the in excuse for dopers, steroid users and people who’ve been injected in their buttock regions by friends, co-workers and acquaintances. You know who you are.

Most out of all of these is Lance Armstrong, who has single-handedly dragged cycling squarely into the out column, much like Tiger Woods did to golf a few years back. By the way, golf: Still out.

They didn’t cheat, but when it comes to baseball teams, you can’t get much more out than the Boston Red Sox, who decided about three-quarters of the way through the season that the best way to deal with their problems was to trade away the entire team and put uniforms on the guys sweeping up peanut shells from the grandstands. So far, so good! By the way, manager Bobby Valentine is WAY out, but peanuts are in.

As for the class-skippers, those would include hockey players – although in their defense, they were actually “locked out,” so couldn’t show up if they wanted to. (Being locked out is in.) And technically they really are working, just in Sweden and Finland. Sweden and Finland: also in, but hockey remains out.

For a while, also AWOL were the NFL referees, until their replacements, in a few short weeks, almost managed to turn the entire institution of professional football into a smoking crater. Maybe now we’ll learn to appreciate the real referees! Naaaaaah.

Tomorrow: All the rest

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