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You’re No Athlete


There is nothing funnier in the world than seeing a grown man pretending to be a professional athlete. You’ve seen them. Pushing 40. Beginnings of a pot belly. Wearing the jersey with someone else’s name on the back. Like any minute they’re going to get the call, “Jimmy, we need you!”

The reality is that fans of the Big Four: Football, Baseball, Basketball and Hockey are the least offensive. Generally, they simply wear a jersey, albeit with no pads or helmet. Even run of the mill fans wear a hat, t-shirt or jacket emblazoned with the logo. That’s pretty normal the world over.

But the jerseys are still funny to me. “Look at me” wearing someone else’s uniform, only fat, slow, old, wearing penny loafers and khakis.

The bicycle people are particularly funny. They could be riding 10 miles around town and they’ll be dressed as if they’re doing a time trial in the Tour de France. For the record, riding 10 miles on a vehicle that coasts is not real work.

Clipless shoes, riding shorts with chamois crotch, performance jersey with map pockets, padded fingerless gloves, monkey hat (I don’t actually know the proper term for these but the bills flip up for no apparent reason), and glasses with a side-view mirror. That’s just the immediate clothing and doesn’t include any of the bike accessories such as handlebar bag with map case (it’s really important to have a map apparently) with cliff bars, rain gear, and sunscreen inside; dual water bottles, seat bag with spare tube and tire irons, and air pump. I know from experience, that there are good reasons for all this gear, assuming you’re riding 50 miles or more. But if you’re riding across town to have lunch, you’re just a dick.

A word about people on bikes, especially if you’re one of them. Stop being such douchebags. You’re riding a vehicle with wheels; you’re not working harder than everyone else. When you pass someone going the other way, it’s polite to nod, smile, say hello or otherwise acknowledge their presence. Cyclists rarely, if ever, do any of these things. My wife first brought this to my attention and I’ve now found it to be all but a rule from first hand experience. No excuses. You’re not concentrating more than someone running a marathon. You’re not Lance Armstrong. You’re just being a self-involved douche. Snap out of it. Well, maybe you are being Armstrong—the epitome of a self-involved douche.

Golfers are another group that spend small fortunes on professional equipment and wardrobe only to play like absolute shit. Take it from a ex-golfer. Thousands of dollars to look and act like professional golfers only to play slightly worse than the 80-year old woman hitting from the ladies tees in pink velcro sneakers and a cardigan sweater.

Most surfers I know are pretty low-key and don’t get too crazy on gear, but there are a few kooks I’ve met that spend obscene money on new surfboards they can’t ride and then sell for a loss, several times a season. I have a secret for you, it’s not the board.

Hunting, while not technically a sport in my opinion, is rife with gear-hungry, clueless cunts. Sitting in a tree and shooting a large, hoofed rodent might be fun, but it’s not a sport. I’m not even saying it’s easy, but it’s not a sport. These are the guys who store their gear in scent-proof bags, spray buck cum on their shoes and hang tampons from trees, then eat McDonald’s on their way to their tree stand. If you’re downwind from a twitchy buck, I don’t give a fuck what you do, they can smell that McMuffin from a mile away.

They say that the people in the band don’t make the money. It’s the guy that sells the guitars and amps that makes the real money. Same as the guy who sells the restaurant equipment makes all the money, not the chef.

These amateur sports are multi-billion dollar industries aimed at fleecing you from as much of your money as is humanly possible. That’s all.

Basketball is generally a sport that as long as someone has a ball, can be played for free on a public court for free. But that doesn’t stop the athletic wear people from selling $400 sneakers that have zero chance of turning a fat, chubby, Irish redhead into Lebron James.

NASCAR fans are the worst. Not only does their sport consist of 80 midgets riding in a circle at breakneck speeds, but the fans are drunk rednecks on deathwatch. You can’t tell me they’re not all just waiting for someone to crash. Hopefully not their driver of course. The funniest part is that the fans have so totally bought into it that they willingly wear the driver’s sponsor’s logo around in solidarity. Soccer fans in Europe share a bit of this, but I’m not going into get into their madness here.

Now don’t get me wrong. You’re not alone. Last year I bought my first Eagles Jersey. It was a can’t lose jersey. The one guy everyone loved. The guy we could never get rid of. Shady McCoy. Then we tanked the season and traded him. Haven’t looked at it since.

I’ve also spent thousands of dollars, as well as hours, playing golf. I’ve had every piece of biking equipment mentioned, as well as purchased several surfboards even though I pretty well suck. I even have a camelback backpack with a water bag and little straws so you don’t have to stop to take a drink, somewhere in the attic from a time when I decided I would be a hiker.

I haven’t played basketball since the eighth grade when I got my first pair of Nike canvas high top sneakers. I sucked then. I’m not getting sucked back into that shit.

I was recently doing a short hike with my family over Thanksgiving Day weekend. It was less than two miles up and down, but you did climb over 500 feet vertically. I’m not going to lie, I had to stop a few times and catch my breath. But I’m not in very good shape and weigh 250 pounds and I’m not trying to fool anyone. No one is mistaking me for an athlete.

My point is, Mount Rainier this was not, and yet I saw a slew of middle aged (40’s) men and women wearing all manner of hiking gear that might have been appropriate at a base camp in Tibet.

Gloves. Ski poles. Fancy hiking boots. Pants that turn into shorts. Camelbacks filled with spring water. Glare proof sunglasses (you know so you aren’t stricken with snow blindness). And Backpacks…filled with what I ask you?

Before we left my brother’s house, they began gathering gear for our little family outing.

“Does anyone need a water bottle?” my brother called out from the kitchen. “Todd?”

“No. I’m good.”

He then started packing a backpack with an enormous bag of Pepperidge Farm goldfish. Granola bars and apples.

“Just how far are we going,” I asked a little nervously, “that we need provisions?”

He just looked at me, shook his head, and continued on.

It was a fine walk. A little more than I really wanted to do the day after gorging myself and drinking all the alcohol in the house, but I did it without complaining. Much.

But as I was walking slowly down the hill, carefully stepping from one wet, leaf-covered rock after another, I looked at the anxious souls coming up the other way, with their expensive gear, backpacks, water bottles, slickers, ski poles and gloves, and thought to myself,

“That’s right motherfuckers, the fat, awkward guy in the long orange sweatshirt, jeans and running shoes is coming down the trail that you’re losing your breath over on your way up…so how tough could you be?”

And then I smiled and whistled a little tune to myself as I passed.

About the author

David Todd McCarty

David Todd McCarty is a writer, director, photographer and cinematographer. He writes fiction and nonfiction essays as well as journalism. You can see his commercial work at http://www.hoppingfrogstudios.com

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