We like small town sports just fine, thanks

Spring is in full effect and all is right with the world.
Well, almost anyway.
For those who frequent the sports page, the end of March is a
special time.
Spring is in full effect and all is right with the world.

Well, almost anyway.

For those who frequent the sports page, the end of March is a special time. The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments are nearing their finales, Major League Baseball is just about to get started, the NBA is beginning to get much more watchable as teams start putting forth their best efforts each night with the playoffs approaching. The NHL is also… err, never mind.

On the surface, everything appears to be going just great in the sports world. But a closer look reveals all sorts of nastiness in the games we love to follow.

The hockey debacle aside – we’ve beaten that one to death already – there’s some pretty disturbing stuff happening. The anticipation for this year’s professional baseball campaign has been replaced by contempt among fans for to the ever-growing steroids scandal.

Baseball writers across the country have made it very clear that they will have some serious reservations about voting Mark McGwire into Cooperstown when he becomes eligible for the Hall of Fame in two years. Many of those same writers painted McGwire as a saint upon his retirement. Rafael Palmeiro, himself accused of steroid use in Jose Canseco’s tell-all memoir, has gone on the record as saying that the last couple of decades on the diamond have been “tainted” by the steroid fiasco.

Even basketball has had an ugly overtone surrounding it this season. The infamous brawl at the Palace last November was bad enough. The multiple bomb threats called in to last week’s rematch between the Pistons and the Pacers were just as disgraceful.

Maybe it’s a Detroit thing. Spending a significant amount of time in the Motor City would likely be enough to drive anyone a little bit insane … just look at rapper Eminem and family.

Thankfully though, they do things the right way here in Hollister. It’s one thing to have quality sports programs, which are as successful as any in the wins column. It’s even more impressive when a community can achieve great heights in sports and do it with dignity and class.

I was at the San Benito High baseball team’s game against Monte Vista Christian on Wednesday. With the game very much in question as the Haybalers held onto a 1-0 lead in the sixth, a ‘Baler batter blasted a shot to the outfield. Monte Vista’s left fielder got a bead on the ball as it headed for the fence and made an awesome diving grab, not unlike Hollister right fielder Gabe Gaitan’s circus catch in last Friday’s contest against the Milpitas Trojans.

Without hesitation, a few of the Haybaler fans lining the fence near left field threw some well-deserved praise at the MVC fielder, congratulating him on his nice play as he trotted back to the visitors’ dugout.

I don’t know if that happens much in Detroit.

Maybe it’s being in a small town. Maybe it’s the caliber of kids, coaches and parents in these parts. Maybe it’s a combination of each of those things.

Whatever it is, we can consider ourselves in a bubble of sorts when it comes to sports. Little of the garbage that has distorted sports on the national level seems to apply here. Sure, we have our controversies now and then, but for the most part we don’t have to deal with brawls, bomb threats, little league parents assaulting umpires, super-sized egos, maniac coaches or rampant steroid use among high-school athletes.

Those attending local sporting events are ensured not only of having a good time watching quality competition, they can also be sure that what they’re watching is sport in its truest form, featuring athletes who love and respect the games that they play.

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