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We need more sit-down guys

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Posted: Wednesday November 18, 1998 11:38 AM


One of the earliest stupid jokes I remember was: Why do they call it a grand-stand if everybody there sits? Well, yeah, but this really isn't true anymore. There are more and more stand-up guys in our stadiums.

I mean, the best rude request in America was always: "Down in front!" Even in a more civil society, that was all right, because whoever was standing up and blocking everybody else's view deserved such coarse censure. Nowadays, though, if one person stands up thoughtlessly at a ball game, nobody screams "Down in front!" Instead, everybody else just stands up, too. They think it must be stylish.

The end result of this dreadful trend is that now, at baseball games, there's a tendency for the whole stadium to stand up when some pitcher merely gets two strikes on a batter. This completely devalues the principle of standing up, which should be reserved only for the most unique accomplishments. (And by the way, I've begun to observe this same sort of cheapening of acclaim in the theater now, too. Patrons give standing ovations at any ordinary curtain call.)

I think this promiscuous laud-and-honor may be accounted for because tickets are so expensive now that anybody who goes to an arena or a theater wants to convince themselves that they've been rewarded with something very special—when, in fact, it's just another everyday strikeout or some run-of-the-mill acting.

But worse: The standing up is not just in the stands. Football substitutes rarely sit down anymore. They roam the sidelines aimlessly, like mobs of refugees. Even when they're on the field nowadays, football players don't sit down for a timeout. In fact, nobody calls timeouts anymore just to give everybody ... well, time out. No, timeouts now are just longer strategic planning sessions. Is it macho for football players to stay on their feet?

Hey, baseball and basketball—even rough, tough hockey players—use the bench for what God made it for, which is to sit on. I do have one objection, though. When hockey players go to the penalty box, they sit there, too. I think these offenders should be obliged to remain on their feet, like bad little schoolchildren, when those whippersnappers are ordered to go to stand in the corner. Then there wouldn't be as many hockey penalties.

Professional golfers, of course, never get to take a load off their feet—which was why the hardcore purists were so upset when Casey Martin petitioned to ride his cart. But tennis players take a sit-down break every two games, and boxers plop down on their personal stool after each and every round. Boxers never sit down at the end of a fight, though, because they want to make the judges think that they haven't been the least bit hurt ... or even winded. After the bell, they idiotically bounce all around and keep shadow-boxing, like a chicken that still flops about with its head cut off.

I say: Hey, stay on your stool. I believe that it's perfectly manly and tasteful to sit when you are not playing in the game, and to keep your seat when you are watching the game—raising up off your derriere only when you are presented with the most extraordinary achievement. Otherwise, will you join with me now in a rousing shout of: "DOWN IN FRONT!"

These commentaries, which appear each Wednesday on National Public Radio's Morning Edition, are posted weekly by CNN/SI.  

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