I’ve become my dad … and grandpa


Tony Lamke - Contributing columnist



I recently heard or read this explanation of life and my memory went back in time. It went something like: “When we are very young, we depended on our parents for most everything. As we age, we reach a stage where we begin to reject our parents and their thinking as old-fashioned; not keeping up with the times. Then we reach the point in later life when we become them.”

I think I have reached that final stage. In fact, I’m sure of it.

As a youngster, I can recall my dad and grandpa sitting in our large kitchen, each in a rocking chair with a glass of beer in hand, engrossed in heated discussions on the topics of the day — mostly sports and politics. They agreed, and disagreed, but I loved to listen, even though I didn’t understand much of what was discussed.

Grandpa always had a cigar in his mouth, or what was left of one, filling the room with heavy smoke. Although I never smoked, it is a wonder second-hand smoke hasn’t taken me out by now. I can still smell those cigars.

I don’t recall the many subjects those discussions were about, but I do recall that, when I was old enough to understand, I disagreed with a lot of what they seemed to agree on.

That was my youth. After all, they were old and needed to update their way of thinking. Sound familiar?

Well, today, age-wise, I am in their shoes and my thinking is the way things used to be.

Allow me to comment on several things in today’s sports world; some I like, most I don’t.

Dunking a basketball

James Naismith supposedly hung up a peach basket so the kids at the local YMCA could shoot a ball through it. I doubt he intended for the players to ram a ball into this fragile basket and hang on it after the ball passes through.

At my height, I always thought dunking a ball was unfair. Tell me, where is the skill in dunking a basketball? If you are 5-foot-8 like me, that part of the game never existed. Outlawed once, dunking a basketball has made a big comeback,

I think most fans love the slam-dunk. Why? I’ll bet most of them are under age 50.

Now the 3-point play has possibly saved the game; there is a skill in this long shot and all 10 players on the floor can shoot the 3-pointer. Except for the pros, where most players are over 6-5, only a few of the 10 players on most courts can dunk. The defense now has to come out and guard a 3-point shooter. But how do you defend a dunk?

If it stays, raise the basket a foot … fat chance!

End-zone celebrations

I think it was Paul Brown — an innovator in pro football coaching for years with the Brown and Bengals — who said, “When you score, act like you’ve been there before!”

All forms of taunting in all sports should be eliminated. It has no purpose in football or any sport. It goes against sportsmanship, and that should be one of the main things we should be promoting! It seems that in all sports, players have to do some ridiculous routine after they make a good play. They even push their teammates out of the way so they can perform.

Their play should be enough.

Machines vs. humans

I saw that in spring training and in one of the minor leagues of baseball, balls and strikes would be called by machines, eliminating the umpire behind the plate.

It seems that in many sports, computers, cameras, etc. are taking the place of humans. Too much time is spent on reviewing officials’ calls. Keep taking the human element out of the game and robots will also be playing the games. “Kill the umpire!” will become “Smash the computer!”

Stadiums on golf courses

I love to play golf. It’s a challenging game, but also I enjoy the beauty of the courses I’ve played. And like many golfers, I enjoy watching tournaments on TV.

However, today many of the tournaments have replaced the outdoor scenery with stadiums, no doubt to charge fans more money for the comfort of sitting in a chair next to the green.

The stadiums are ugly and have no place on a golf course. My dad hated golf, but he would have really hated the stadiums.

‘Get in the hole!’

The idiots in the crowds watching a golf tournament who insist on yelling, “Get in the hole!’ after a golfer strikes a putt should be thrown off the course. Do they really think they are helping the ball roll into the cup?

It is a sad exhibition of what a few beers can do to the human mind. But I’m sure some of them have not been drinking; they just have to be part of the action. Heaven help us.

Too-long seasons

Butch Hooper, a great basketball player back in the day, told me that his dad, Vern, one of Clinton County’s great coaches, would take their basketballs and lock them up when the season ended and get out the baseball equipment.

I thought a lot of his dad, but when he told me this, I liked him a lot more.

Some seasons never seem to end due to the tremendous desire to win.

Dads, moms and coaches insist that you play the game all year long, lift weights, eat and drink foods full of whatever it is to add 10 or 30 more pounds, and on and on.

You don’t see kids choosing up sides and playing just for fun today. Without the best equipment and adult coaching, kid’s simply don’t play today.

I guess it’s just a different world, but I don’t have to like it.

Right, dad and granddad?!

Tony Lamke is a resident of Ohio Living Cape May in Wilmington who writes a periodic column and wrote many past sports articles for the News Journal.

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Tony Lamke

Contributing columnist