I’m not a betting man, but I don’t have anything morally against it. It just takes the fun out of sports, which I love for its own self. I don’t even play fantasy sports. I think a man (or, I suppose, a woman) would root against his own brother (or, I suppose, sister) if he (or she) stood to make a buck.
If, just for the sake of argument, my favorite team was, oh, the Boston Red Sox, I wouldn’t want some right fielder for, oh, just for the sake of argument, the New York Yankees, to be able to make me money by getting a hit.
It muddies the waters. Not everyone loves sports as much as I. Not everyone writes about it for his whole life.
My first experience with gambling was when I was 11. Bill Bowling bet me the New York Mets would beat the Atlanta Braves in a best-of-5 playoff for the National League pennant. It was the first year they had such a series. Inexplicably, the Mets won, so Bill exposed me to something called double-or-nothing in the World Series, where the Mets faced the Baltimore Orioles.
That team came to be known as the Amazing Mets. They cost me 10 bucks, which was a lot of money in those days. I had to cough up the entire wages of putting up the grocery order at my grandfather’s store.
I’m a decent poker player. What few bets I’ve made in the years since usually involved long shots, almost like a Powerball ticket. When I was in Las Vegas to write about stock car races, I’d put down five bucks on something ridiculous like, oh, just for the sake of argument, the Red Sox winning the World Series even though they hadn’t done it in 86 years. I only made that bet once. The odds weren’t as good after 2004.
I know enough about betting, though, that I could have made a lot of money if I’d told someone this year that Clemson would not play South Carolina but would play The Citadel.
Maybe I’d have made a little money by putting $5 on half the National Hockey League’s playoff games being played in Toronto, Ont., because it was the only safe place, but the Toronto Blue Jays would have to play home games in Buffalo, N.Y., because Toronto wasn’t.
But, not I. I made a figurative bet by starting a sports website based on the proposition that there would still be something called sports when I got it up and running. Back in March, I thought the suspension of all sports was just a passing fancy.
Yet Laurens County Sports is hanging in there. Even though there isn’t much in the way of sports, it’s still possible to write on the subject and impressive that an amazing number of people will “click” on that subject seven days a week. As of now, the roosters are starting to crow even though sunset comes late.
I drove over to Laurens Academy on Tuesday night to watch a couple volleyball matches. I was anxious to see this forgotten phenomenon, a sport played by people who weren’t using joysticks. It took a mask to get in, and between the middle-school and the varsity matches, a fellow spoke into a microphone and informed folks they’d have to step outside for a few minutes while the premises were sanitized for their protection. They even scrubbed the volleyballs.
I thought of the record that first made Andy Griffith famous, “What It Was Was Football,” even though what it was was volleyball. Later on, I watched an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies that didn’t seen far-fetched at all, given current events. There was a Possum Day parade amongst the movie stars and swimming pools, and I had a heapin’ helpin’ of their hospitality.
I enjoyed that there sports. I’d love to see a heap more of it.
I’ll wear a mask just about anywhere if that’s what it takes.