NBA/NFL Lockouts: Think of the Fans

In Simmons' FootstepsContributor IJuly 4, 2011

Sorry, folks, for posting the 6,402,218th article on the current NBA and/or NFL lockouts. 

The NFL lockout is well over the 100-day mark, and is beginning to make diehard fans nervous about a 2011-12 season. headlines read "NFL sides meet for 2 hours, eye for next week," which would mean something if not for the fact that they've been eyeing a solution next week for the past two months. 

Meanwhile, the NBA lockout has lasted only a few days, and yet I'm still crying, Nancy Kerrigan-style. WHY?!?!?!?!

In all seriousness now, however, America needs these sports. I have friends who make it through the work week simply by looking forward to Sunday, when we tailgate for the St. Louis Rams home games at our local basement we call a dome (or, in the case of an away game, a house party filled with beer, beer, and more beer).

As for basketball, you're taking away arguably the most watchable sport. Basketball is a fast game when played the right away (to hell with TV timeouts). An NBA game should take no longer than an hour and 45 minutes. Okay, two hours...TOPS. 

Whether you like either of these two sports or not, sports in general have helped individual people as well as regions as a whole. I'm not going to sit here and tell you some story about how my dad was killed in a car accident and my only way of coping was to buy St. Louis Blues season tickets (my dad is, in fact, alive and well).

When I was six years old, my dog, named Buckwheat (don't ask), died of old age. I couldn't understand. He was one of my best friends, with whom I spent countless hours throwing the tennis ball around in the backyard, and now he was gone.

I asked my mom, "when will he be back?"  Only when I saw her turn around with tears in her eyes and say that he wouldn't did I understand what had just happened.

Let's just say I spent the next couple of hours in quite the somber mood. I tried to take my mind off of it. My dad came home that night and asked if I wanted to go see a Cardinals game. I did.

For three hours that night, I fought off the tears and watched Darryl Kile pitch a gem.

It didn't cause me to forget about our pet shih tzu dying, but for three hours, I forgot about all my worries and was entranced by the wonders of sport. 

Cardinal games soon became the escape from stress for my father and me. The day I broke my wrist and found out I couldn't play baseball for six weeks? That night, we saw Jim Edmonds make the most incredible catch I've ever seen in person.

I'll explain one more story, one that is actually pretty tough to share. My dad's best friend, Mike, went to countless games with us back in the day. Mike and his wife, Cheryl, were our best family friends, and we would spend every Fourth of July at each others' homes. Mike died of a brain aneurysm on May 31, 2009.

I was in the middle of a baseball game of my own at the time. In the middle of an inning, my mother said the words to me: "I have to go. Mike just died and I'm going to the hospital with dad." 


That game was hard to finish. It was even harder going to the visitation days later. Cheryl had, and still has, a very tough time coping with his death. 

My dad spent the next two weeks in relative silence. He was definitely not himself. His best friend, who used to drive eight hours with him on weekends to go watch SEC football games, was now gone.

Nowadays, when we go to Cardinal games, I don't bother my dad like I did when I was an immature child. I let him watch in peace, remembering the great times he had in those seats with Mike.

Cardinal games do remind my dad of Mike, but they are good memories. Memories like seeing the Cardinals win a World Series back in 2006 from the upper deck of Busch Stadium. 

My point is this: Sports have been around forever, allowing people to cope with problems. Sports have created friendships and camaraderie you will find nowhere else. To take that away from America would be tragic.

Let us watch.