This week I realized that I am going through a change in my everyday mind set. I really could not put my finger on it right away, but today it all came together for me. This afternoon I realized that my attitude has changed in two very distinct arenas. These are sports, and automobiles. Being a sports fan has been second nature to me for as long as I can remember. When it comes to automobiles, I know what kind of cars are going to cost a lot, which ones will use less gas, and those designed to roar down the highway.
So what was it that finally brought this all home for me?
I was walking out of the pet store in Henderson Center when I saw a Kia Rondo parked outside the post office. Normally I just walk on by and not invest a thought in such an ordinary car. However, now that I drive a Nissan Versa ( a car very similar to the Rondo), I found myself doing a visual comparison of the Rondo to my Versa. First I could not help but notice the slightly bigger back seat area for the passengers. Of course the Rondo is at least a half foot to a foot longer than my Versa, and the designers decided to use that increased length to enhance the comfort of the rear seat passengers. Well the back of both cars seem to have similar storage space…
OK, what the hell am I rambling on about in my mind? Where does this come from?
It is so simple.
I have stumbled upon the car show Top Gear. Now I only watch the UK version of this show, because when you get down to it, this original English version is so much better than any of the versions created after the fact. The three hosts of the UK Top Gear Show, Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond have developed an on air chemistry that drives the show like a rocket lifting an object into space. In between their reviews of cars (both Super Cars, and everyday cars for us working stiffs), they dream up elaborate challenges that involve a car in someway. It could be a race from one point to another, or a contest to see who can buy the best car for a minimal amount of money. It is an edgy show (Clarkson is often the target of letters from people or groups he has offended), but for people who get it, Top Gear is a bastion for those of us who wish we could never grow up. These three blokes have one of the best jobs in the world. They drive very expensive cars on their test track, travel all over the world to conduct challenges, and in the process manage to make us learn a little bit more about cars.
What really got me interested in Top Gear was the 60 Minutes story that was done about the show. I had to check it out. Since then I have been hooked. I am nearly through all of the shows that stream on Netflix. I can’t say that I am now a true “Petrol Head”, but as I shared with you my experience sizing up the Kia Rondo to my Versa, the Top Gear experience has me seeing the automobile like I never have before.
Here is the link to the 60 Minutes Story on Top Gear. Judge for yourself.
Now onto sports…
I have been a sports fan for as long as I can remember. I grew up loving the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Lakers, and the one time Los Angeles Rams. Growing up on the 80’s I was used to rooting for winning teams, well maybe not the Rams. As my knowledge of sports grew over the years I felt I was quite knowledgeable about most things sports related. I guess I was right to an extent, but then I started listening to Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio, and something changed.
Colin came to ESPN Radio’s national line up after Tony Kornhierser “retired” from his radio show. Tony’s show was wildly popular, and so Colin Cowherd had quite a uphill battle to gain acceptance from an entrenched audience base. However, Colin persevered, and eventually he found success. I like Colin, because he makes me think. If I just want minimal provocation and just laughs, I catch Jim Rome in the morning. A funny thing happens when the clock strikes noon here on the North Coast; Colin will come on the air and provoke the masses. He does not say anything outrageous or over the line. He has done something to upset the natural order of all sports fans. Colin has taken the emotion out of sports. Yes, as fans we love our teams, and our attachment to our favorite stars can cause a blindness to some basic truths.
Listeners e-mail and call Colin on a daily basis to berate him and tell him he knows nothing. Colin handles these “meatballs” as he refers to them by asking them to take the emotion out of the equation. No matter how much we love our players and teams, big time sports are a business, and actions are taken. Athletes make choices that often leave fans broken hearted, but Colin defends the “greedy” and “disloyal” athletes (as the listeners would refer to them) by reminding the audience that the business of Sports is just that: A Business.
As I thought about the whole car thing, I also thought about my sports thing too. I am now seeing all of my sports news and notes with less emotion. I still like the games, and will root for my teams. However, I do not find myself thumping my chest while bragging about this athlete or that team. I find myself thinking two steps ahead, about how a player could relocate after the season, or how a team plans to compete for a championship while clearly lacking the pieces it needs to be successful. Colin Cowherd made me a better sports fan. Well at least a different kind of one.