So this is what a weekend without football is like. Funny, I tried to forget.
Sunday was particularly challenging for me. It’s the only one on the calendar without some variety of televised football, baseball or auto racing.
Can’t even play Sunday morning point guard and overanalyze all eight high school basketball tournament games that I watched the previous day. That’s next week.
I’m the poster boy for seasonal affective disorder. My mind is racing in a million different directions. OK, maybe only three or four. And you, my faithful and tolerant audience, get to read the map.
•It happens every winter. Colleagues and close friends find out I’m assigned to the high school cheerleading championships. And the jokes begin.
The comments cover the continuum from dated to stereotyped to sexist to creepy. Through it all, there is an unspoken assertion, and some even verbalize it, that cheering isn’t a “sport.”
I can’t believe we’re still having this argument in 2014. Like so many debates that drag on from bygone eras, however, one side often speaks out of ignorance more than the abundance of its heart.
Cheering absolutely is a sport. It requires a mix of cardiovascular capacity, physical strength, endurance, balance, timing and hand-eye coordination that frankly put most team endeavors to shame.
There is a certain element that will never see cheerleading as anything more than girls dutifully standing on the sidelines and hollering rah-rah on behalf of a boys’ basketball, football or hockey team. I’ve taken to simply feeling sorry for those people.
Other people mask their discrimination more cleverly. “I just don’t like a sport that’s subjective,” they say. “I hate anything that’s decided by judges. Give me a scoreboard.”
Sooooo, help me out, here. Judges are less legitimate assessors of skill and adherence to the rules than the ones who wear striped shirts in stick-and-ball games … how?
It’s a sport, one that isn’t going away and one that our tri-county schools perform with style and grace. Congratulations to Lewiston on its Class A East title, Mountain Valley on its MVC champonship, and Lisbon for earning runner-up honors at the Class C state meet.
•To paraphrase Harry Doyle, Bob Uecker’s unforgettable broadcasting alter ego: “One Olympian? That’s all we got? One doggone Olympian?”
Having lived all my life in a state in which we all freeze off various parts of our anatomy for eight months of the year, it’s hard for me to comprehend that Maine boasts but a single participant in the Sochi Olympics.
And while the red-blooded guy in me can see the beauty in any sport that simultaneously incorporates skis and guns, it’s hard for me to get fired up when our sole representative is finishing 61st in the biathlon, and when I could get almost to New York City in the time it would take me to drive to his hometown in the other direction.
Yes, the Winter Games only happen every four years, and getting there is all about timing. Seth Wescott’s knee injury happened at the worst possible time. He and Julia Clukey have done us proud in the past. And young skiers flock to Carrabassett Valley Academy in hopes of becoming the next Wescott, Bode Miller or Kirsten Clark.
I just don’t understand why there aren’t more Winter Olympic prospects from a cold-weather hotbed with so many natural resources.
Our poverty relative to the rest of the world? Too many other traditional American sports to distract us? Too much time and energy involved in such a longshot at success?
Probably a little bit of everything.
•Elsewhere in this section is the breaking news that one of our most enduring high school football coaches, Jim Aylward, is leaving one of the region’s traditionally powerful programs (Mountain Valley) for another (Mt. Blue).
It’s big stuff, even for a fall sport in the dead of winter. That’s what happens when you’ve won 200 games and four state championships and are a bonafide movie star.
Despite everything Aylward has accomplished in his football life, people being the self-absorbed jerks we are, there are bound to be detractors on both sides of the equation.
I hope and pray that the good people of Rumford and Mexico will recognize what Aylward has done for that community and give him their blessing. After a quarter-century of excellence, he owes nobody. He is not bailing out during hard times, or any other such sour-grapes accusations that may surface. He is doing the right thing personally and professionally.
Likewise, I’m sure a few reluctant souls in Farmington will wonder why, after 42 years, RSU 9 looked outide the walls of its own schools for a football coach. Please stop. When you have the chance to hire one of the best, you do it. The end.
•Those big trucks are loading up and leaving Boston as we speak. Pitchers and catchers are about to report.
Tell me how life could be better, and I’ll tell you, politely, that you’re out of your mind.
The world champion Boston Red Sox didn’t win the hot stove pennant. But seriously, when is the last time they did? 2004?
Instead, they acquired a handful of guys who, if they stay healthy and evolve into their roles, will reap rewards far greater than the risk of bringing them on board.
Sounds a lot like 2013 to me.
Play ball. Please. My Sunday afternoon sanity demands it.
Kalle Oakes is a staff columnist. His email is [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Oaksie72.