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13 July, 2011

I Have a Theory

   by Tom McConville

   Issac Netwon. Pythagorus. Bill Simmons. Whether they're discussing relativity, injured athletes or the something to do with math, they all have theories. So here's one of my own. I think there's a correlation between the downfall of modern music and the moment sports started becoming less enjoyable. And I need your help deciding what this theory should be called.

   Here's goes my hypothesis. I don't know when sports and music started to decline, but I think it was sometime in the mid to late 90's. Prior to that, you could make the argument that both were at their relative peaks in terms of popularity and social relevance. While all music wasn't good, bands and artists at that time still had the freedom to take chances. Back then, it was if metal, rock and hip hop were all mashed together and whatever came out of it was pressed and released. Plus, new sounds like grunge and alternative came into the forefront, challenging the status quo and offering an alternative to people tired of ballad rich hair metal and prog rock arena bands.

   Sports was also high in the saddle, too. There was still a chance for small market teams like the Pirates and Bills to make some noise. There were still guys like John Starks could go from bagging groceries to playing in championships. And there were helmet less hockey players whose only worry was if their mullets would accidentally dip into the Stanley Cup when it was their turn to chug some champagne.

   But then, everything started to change. Radio stations forget about bass lines and focused on the bottom line. Athletes started to get handled more than keys on a janitors belt buckle. Pepsi sponsored Woodstock. The Tiger Woods robot began to utter his first corporately sanctioned sound bite.

   Sure, I'll cop to the fact that I sound like an old crank. And I will agree that there was plenty of stuff back in the day that was pretty horrendous. Agassi's "Image is Everything" and the rap metal stylings of CrazyTown notwithstanding, there did seem to be more purity back then. Things seemed less scripted, less controlled, more genuine before the time we saw an athlete head size grow exponentially and auto tune took over the radio airwaves.

   And now what are we left with? People like the supremely untalented yet marketing savvy Ke$sha and immensely talented yet overwhelming entitled Bryce Harper.

   What bums me out the most is that when I was growing up, sports and music were always my escapes. Playing wiffle ball, touch football, backyard hoops and street hockey kept me going even when I was luckily finding success on a soccer field. Listening to everything from ACDC to Warren Zevon kept me energized and ready to discover all sorts of new music. The soccer team I played didn't hire a trainer, and the coach didn't demand I or the other guys concentrate on just one sport. And while top 40 stations played the hits, there were still enough places on the dial you could find new music and new sounds that didn't conform to any style or format.

So, help me out here. If you could name this theory, what would it be?

Thanks. Tom

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