One of the reasons I love sports so much is the human drama that exists in every game. I'm not talking about the contrived drama that exists in the absurdity of the inappropriately titled "reality television." The only legitimate reality programming that exists in the world is on the ice, the field, between the lines or in any arena or sporting competition where the outcome is not predetermined.
The belief from both sides that they are better and will emerge victorious exists at almost every competitive level. The humanization of sports is what draws so many people in. The success and failure that is witnessed daily can show both the frailty and resolve of some of the world's most gifted athletes.
They may put their pants on one leg at a time, but they do it a hell of a lot better than the rest of us.
The perception that athletes are cold and emotionless pawns on field of play is a thing of the past. The excessive media coverage that exists today can be suffocating, repetitive and obnoxious at times, but it also offers fans unparalleled access to our favorite players and our favorite teams. The mixed blessings offered from social media are often embraced and utilized by today's athletes that enjoy the interaction away from the camera.
It has been through social media that I have been able to interact with some of my favorite former and current players. Some are certainly more interactive than others, but at times I feel like a re-tweet or a direct message on Twitter has become the newer, more personalized autograph equivalent that fans covet.
I struggle with the balance of fandom and objectivity when I write. One of the biggest compliments I've received was when a Detroit Red Wings fan asked me why I hated his team, suggesting I was either a Boston Bruin or Chicago Blackhawk fan.
My allegiance will forever lie with Hockeytown and the winged-wheel, so when Darren McCarty responded to one of my tweets, I felt like a kid waiting outside the players' entrance getting my jersey signed. OK, let's forget about the fact that McCarty is the same age as me. I remember that guy's career as well as anyone who played in Detroit! We grew up during the same time; he just had a slightly more awesome view of the games I was watching.
The interaction, though odd and unique, was personalized because he was responding specifically to questions I was asking him. What began as a request for a couple of questions evolved into a full-blown interview. Darren—I can call him that now because we're fast friends...all right, no we aren't—Mr. McCarty. was amazingly accommodating, and he answered every question I had and then some.
A little backstory about Darren McCarty. Drafted in 1992 with the 46th overall pick, McCarty combined hustle, grit, toughness and enough skill on the puck to drop the jaws of Detroit fans and opponents from time to time. He was a fan favorite immediately in Motown from his rookie season in 1993 until he retired in 2009. Four Stanley Cup rings and a goal that will live forever in any Red Wing fan's heart, McCarty personified the heart of Detroit and their Red Wings as a member of their "Grind Line."
I would like to personally thank Darren McCarty for being so generous with his time, and giving all of us a chance to reflect on an amazing career. It was also a great excuse to watch that goal from 1997 all over again! Enjoy now!