Certified Sports Fans

Mike Moffett

 by Mike Moffett
Weirs Times Columnist

The martial arts designate the quality of practitioners via a belt system and with various degrees. For example, in Taekwondo, the “black belt” designation includes nine ranks, or degrees. A degree is indicated on the belt itself with stripes, Roman numerals, or other methods.
Marines wear ribbons and shooting badges on their dress uniforms. These convey to the world what campaigns the Marine took part in, as well as how well he—or she—can shoot. An expert badge is best, better and more ornate than the sharpshooter badge. Woe to the Marine who only rates a marksman badge—a square box of shame.
Academicians similarly have regalia indicating degrees earned.
So it occurs to me that we should also have designations for sports fans. Experts, Intermediates, Dullards, and Yankee fans. There could be degrees, as in Taekwondo—i.e. “Third Degree Intermediate with a Specialty in College Football.”
Standardized testing would determine degrees and designations. Badges and certificates would subsequently be awarded. The credentials could be displayed as required, as during an argument in a bar re: the greatest baseball catcher ever.

Roy Campanella.
Roy Campanella.

“I say Roy Campanella was best ever. Three-time MVP with the Dodgers. And I’m a first degree sports expert with a specialty in Major League Baseball, so don’t even think about arguing with me!”
These designations would look good on resumes, especially for people who want jobs in the sports world. Or elsewhere.
Like in politics. Politicians like to hang with sports people. But they need to talk the talk. When Mike Huckabee claimed to be a big baseball fan, but couldn’t pronounce Albert Pujols, he lost all credibility. When Ted Cruz went to Indiana and called a basketball hoop a “ring” he doomed his campaign—Bobby Knight endorsed Donald Trump and the rest is history. Or consider Barack Obama claiming to be a big White Sox fan, and then being unable to name any players.
Dullards all.
In all honesty, I may no longer be a First Degree Sports Expert. There are so many teams now. Thirty-two NFL teams, instead of the 16 I knew so well when I became a sports fan. And 30 NHL teams instead of only six. Keeping up with everything is overwhelming, especially as I also try to keep an eye on craven politicians nowadays as well.
So kudos to those who are able to stay current with our ever-growing sports universe, including the Olympics. Those like some of my students—or my fellow sports columnist Dave Long, who writes for the weekly Hippo. Dave may get confused over politics, but when it comes to sports, his readers get insights from a seasoned, first degree sports expert.
Even if he doesn’t understand that Roy Campanella was the greatest catcher ever.

The aforementioned Dave Long is godfather to my daughter Kendra, a soccer striker extraordinaire at Concord High School from 2006-09. Dave somehow worked her name into several sports columns when she was a senior scoring numerous goals for the Crimson Tide, even though Dave’s not a soccer guy.
But he’s watching soccer now. His niece, Ally Long, is a member of the USA Women’s Olympic Soccer team, right out there on the pitch with the likes of Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan. Wow! That certainly rates a mention in THIS column!
Ally! Ally! USA! USA!

Sports Quiz
David “Big Papi” Ortiz set the all-time Red Sox single season home run record with 54 round-trippers in 2006. Whose record did he break? (Answer follows)

Born Today …
That is to say, sports standouts born on August 18 include Pittsburgh Pirate Hall-of-Famer Roberto Clemente (1934) and Olympic decathlete Rafer Johnson (1935).
In 1992, the Phillies acquired Michael Crouwel, a Dutch catching prospect who played on Holland’s national team. When asked what he thought about the city of Philadelphia, Crouwel said: “The only thing I know about it is that it’s in New Jersey.”

Sportsquiz Answer
Jimmie Foxx hit 50 home runs for the 1938 Red Sox.

Michael Moffett is a Professor of Sports Management for Plymouth State University and NHTI-Concord. He recently co-authored the critically-acclaimed and award-winning “FAHIM SPEAKS: A Warrior-Actor’s Odyssey from Afghanistan to Hollywood and Back” (with the Marines)—which is available through Amazon.com. His e-mail address is mimoffett@comcast.net.