Saturday, December 31, 2011

The annual obituaries

Newspapers' accounts of the famous and infamous lost in 2011 contain a lot of big names. I wonder if we'll look back on this past year as noteworthy in how we lost some fairly notable tyrants such as Osama bin Laden and Kim Jong Il. The Economist has a considerable amount of coverage in its most recent issue lamenting how Mr. Kim was afforded the privilege of dying a free man, labeling him the most despicable tyrant of modern times.

The most famous "good guy" I feel we lost was Harry Morgan who, as Colonel Potter, represented a pleasant father figure for me on television.

I might look back at 2011 as the year that killed two long-time pasttimes for me: television and sports. The introduction of an iPad and Kindle into the home, along with the revelation of Netflix streaming, sees me turning on the television less and less, at least for live entertainment. I might even pull the plug on pay tv in 2012 and decide to go over the air along with Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu.

As for sports, the Penn State scandal has the potential of upending the megalomaniacal monstrosity that is big-time college sports. The crimes that occurred at PSU could have happened at one of any dozens of campuses in the country where coaches and programs are above the law and escape close journalistic scrutiny. We have seen the last of coaches in the ilk of JoePa, and in time we are going to see coaches and programs reined in.

College sports never meant much to me, I'm a casual observer. But pro sports took a back seat to more meaningful people and ways to spend time for me. I opened 2011 watching a miserable Eagles' playoff game during a family gathering, watching it to the exclusion of wonderful relatives I don't get to see too often. It dawned on me after that game how empty of an experience it was to watch it rather than talk with my uncle or aunt more. For the first time in more than a decade, I missed more Eagles games than I watched in 2011. It was a struggle to adopt this mindset, but I'm finding there are so many better things to do with a Sunday than watch them. As for the Phillies, I learned that a quick score check around 9:10 or so is enough to tell me whether the end of the game is worth watching, normally not. Time is better spent with my Kindle.

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