Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University where he pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeyes from 1971 through 1974. He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league umpire for seven seasons, working for the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA). He has written for numerous websites, and for the past fourteen years has served as columnist and photo editor for The Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press, in Lincoln Nebraska. His interests include history, support for amateur baseball, the outdoors, and he has a music degree from Ohio State University.

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They say the more you do something the better it gets. Not necessarily. We’ve taken sports to limits that to many have become insufferable…and wonder why we continue to support it.

This is for all you haters out there…the ones who write when I get out my soap box labeled, “Old School”.

This is for those of you who read my opinions on social progress and write to ask me if anyone attended (notice the verb tense) my funeral…20 years ago! I particularly like the ones I receive now from Nick in Westerville, Ohio. There’s your ‘shout out’ Bro…and happy holidays.

Sonny_thumb0211But if you’re tired of holiday ads for ‘Chia Obama’ and ‘Chia Trump’; or the world’s softest pajamas for “her” – if you want something to make you sit up and think about why we are the way we are – here’s some more of my familiar year-end medicine for those of us who’ve become full of ourselves in the name of sports. You know how we say we want world peace for the holidays…everyone’s idyllic Christmas wish?  In the best tradition of Press Pros, here’s the editor’s wish list for those who lean towards ‘Festivus’.  Something for the rest of us.

For others, like me, annoyed by a sports culture of over-indulgence.

In no particular order….

Wish #1…Do away with ALL official reviews; and do it in every sport. For no better reason, speed up the games and get people home…or to bed at night…or, so World Series games can conclude by at least 11 pm.

In the first place, I think it’s led to many on-field officials becoming worse because they now rely on the camera to get the play right…if they don’t.

But second, we got along  fine for a hundred years with the element of human error as a part of sports…back when games lasted 2 hours and 30 minutes. Back when the pace of play was uninterrupted, and if it was it was done so by an entertaining argument between officials and managers. I say…let the officials make the call and go with it. If you see on film during the off-season that certain refs and umpires missed a disproportionate number of calls do something about them.

In the meantime the world is not a worse place because we missed a few plays in a football or baseball game, and no less fair. It is a better place…if we all get our required sleep!

Not a good look.  From a purist's point of view every team should wear home "white" and road "gray" uniforms.

Not a good look. From a purist’s point of view every team should wear home “white” and road “gray” uniforms.

Wish #2…There would be no alternative uniforms in sports. Period! From a purist’s point of view I’m so tired of seeing teams wear something other than their original home and away uniform just so the manufacturer and the team’s management can make an extra buck on a jersey sale. The Reds ‘red’ Sunday look is terrible. Likewise, the Cubs’ ‘blue’ uniform is putrid. NO BASEBALL TEAM SHOULD WEAR SHIRTS OF THEIR DOMINANT COLOR! Home uniforms should be white; road uniforms should be gray.

And if the Arizona Diamondbacks continue to wear what they wore in 2016 they shouldn’t be allowed to play at all. That look is total “beer league”.

Football is probably worse. No team has more bad uniforms now than the two Ohio teams, the Browns and Bengals. And only because some ‘schmuck’ with an extra C note in his pocket is willing to buy one at the team shop.

And Ohio State should wear their traditional look…ALWAYS! It’s one of the best in college football, while the throwbacks they wear from the depression years are simply awful, right down to the charcoal gray helmets. Gene Smith told me last spring they do it because the kids like them. Well, to h— with that. The tail doesn’t wag the dog. They do it because of their contract with Nike, and Nike is trying to sell jerseys.  I’m not buying…any of it!

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Wish #3…Please, please, please…shorten the seasons. There is no bigger fan of baseball in the world, but the major league season does not need to be 162 games long.

Football does not need to be 16 games long.

Basketball and hockey do not need to be 80 games long. As it is you have the NBA season concluding in the middle of June; and ditto with hockey.

The Super Bowl is played now in February, during the height basketball interest.

It’s nothing unusual any more for the World Series to conclude in November.

And the real loser because of it, ironically, is the fan. That’s right, the fan…the guy who travels for four hours and spends $800 dollars for tickets to see LeBron play – except LeBron isn’t playing because he’s taking the night off to rest. Why? Too many games!

Football players hate Thursday night football because the wear and tear on the body is dangerous. And I flipped on the TV one night this season and saw Ohio University playing on a Tuesday night. Whiskey, tango, foxtrot!

And do I have to mention…again…that 15 weeks of football to determine a state champion is too much in high school?

We do it because of money, greed, and over-indulgence. Look, I like Italian food, but I don’t want it three times a week.

And we say it’s alright because it’s sports, and not some other evil. But is there an evil WORSE than money? Think about that.

Wish #4…Why do we support the egregious concept of dynamic pricing for tickets in sports?

What’s dynamic pricing? That’s the gouge that colleges and professional teams place on fans now to see the Buckeyes, or the Reds, play the better teams on the schedule. You pay $75 dollars to see Ohio State play Bowling Green, but you pay $200 (face value) to see them play Michigan.

Likewise, when some down-and-out like the Twins comes to Cincinnati you pay $50 for good seats. But when the Cubs or the Yankees come to town you play 50% more.

The problem is…what if Jake Arrieta is on the disabled list, or a couple of their other stars? You’re not seeing the real Cubs if they have players out with injuries. But I noticed last year that teams don’t discount for injuries. No, the fans get to share the hurt by having their wallets sprained.

More money and more greed. The owners might as well be pandering pornography.

Wish #5…There’s so much material to consider here. But I really wish that we, as sports fans, had the discipline to simply not show up.

Fired Ohio State band director, Jon Waters.

Fired Ohio State band director, Jon Waters.

For instance, I hear people at every event I cover talk about something they don’t like about major league baseball, basketball, or college football. There was a great outcry when Ohio State fired band director Jon Waters four years ago over claims from a parent that the culture of the band had grown too lascivious. People were wearing signs and posting on Facebook, “I stand with Jon Waters”.  Oh really?  Those same people were also standing in line to buy their football tickets, too. So much for standing with Jon, right? If it really meant something to you you’d hit ’em where it hurts. Eh?

We say we don’t respect baseball players making $25 million a year – or LeBron and Tom Brady making a hundred times what the average well-paid fan can earn. And yet…we continue to pay in support of the very thing we condemn.

Personally, there’s a reason why I’d rather play $10 to see a high school game than $100 to see game seven between the Cubs and the Indians.

The reason? Many of those kids at Jackson Center, Troy, Covington, and St. Henry are going to end up living in their home community, they’re going to raise families there, be leaders, and help advance the notion that the longer we inhabit the earth the better we should become in all phases of humanity. Bottom line: $10 does not entitle anyone. I’m not sure you can say the same about $100 million.

A wish list for the holidays…and my appreciation for yours (if you have one). Or at least take some time to think about it.

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