The great outdoors are not always that great
"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles, CEO Sports Network
Look at it this way ... you're inside an arena, watching a basketball game,
perhaps football, even baseball, a colder one for hockey but no snowflakes
falling on and around you, some others like golf in nice comfortable warm
environs until it rains, possibly, or doing something that is enjoyable for
your own pleasure, not as a spectator. Whew! How much does that outdoor
experience, like climbing Mt. Everest, really do for you?
What some outdoor fun? Ask some friends to
join you as you climb Mount Everest!
Exhilarating, challenging, rewarding, sense of accomplishment, bucket
listings, competitive or just because you always wanted to sky dive? What is
the role of the weather and how impactful might it be? Are you a fan or one of
the participants? What is your comfort-level zone? How much of a difference is
there on the "are we having fun yet?" meter from being a fan, idle passer-by,
serious viewer or the person undertaking the activity? Will the cloudy skies,
pending storm, traffic, lack of a parking space, bad seat, 6-foot-6 guy in
front of you, outrageously noisy and verbally abusive one behind you send you
home to the comfort of the den, your fireplace, kitchen stocked with the food
you want ... more than reasonably priced and, biggest prize of all, your own
If a superior power wanted me to sleep on the ground I might have arrived here
as a squirrel, perhaps a lion. Why brave the chill of the evening, taller
bushes that are the entry to the loo, running water that is the stream nearby
and canned food that asks whether you are on a battlefield of some sort? It
all comes with camping, canoeing - kayaking, caving - canyoning, climbing and
what the outdoors folks have come to call country sports. Very admirable
stuff, seriously. Just not for me ... good for thousands, maybe more; not good
for tens of thousands, definitely many more.
The "watchers" among us need the camaraderie, excitement of being there ... on
the scene, like Time Square in NYC on New Year's Eve, the Super Bowl,
Olympics, World Cup, Indy 500, Ryder Cup. Wimbledon and other events, sporting
or otherwise, that are, primarily, outdoors. Where you have to brave the
crowds and, more importantly, the potential of the elements ... wintry cold
breezes that are decidedly colder when you are relegated to standing or
sitting in one spot, for the most part. The potential of rain, snow,
unbearable heat and crowds that are one step removed from fleeing a terrorist
attack en masse has to be considered.
Cycling is exercise for most of us, indoors or out, and we are, for now,
focusing on such as the Tour de France. Here they come, there they go! Did
you pass or toss any of them a bottle of water? Whoops, we do that at
marathons, not biking. Extreme sports have been created for those with a death
wish or, at the least, desire for an injury that will bring boatloads of
sympathetic colleagues, friends, relatives and the media to your hospital
room. There has to be an easier way to gain attention. More frightening is the
fact that these and many other outdoor sports are gaining in popularity. Just
think of the zealots that follow and love MMA, UFC ... two men in a cage
trying to maim one another. The Romans would have loved this, rain or shine.
Spartacus and friends in 2011.
Every year approximately 200 riders start
the Tour de France.
Sports, as has been the case, in one form or the other, simply continues to
grow and the populace has an insatiable appetite for it in any form ... more
so today to keep us healthy; and because ours is a world in which we need
heroes, and who better to satisfy that need than those who are involved with
sports? We take part or we take off our shirts, paint our bodies, insulate
them with an over-abundance of beer and then challenge Mother Nature, defy her
every effort to dissuade us. But, we will have none of that and the games
goon. The sharks smash into our cages below the waters and our digital water-
proof cameras continue to snap away.
Whether the local stream, rivers of the north or oceans that surround us ...
trout, salmon or tuna ... standing or sitting on a sea-faring yacht, they love
it! And prizes abound for the best catch. Undaunted by the weather, these
hearty souls are out there at dawn's early light.
I am not going hang-gliding. I have no desire to be, or emulate, a bird.
Humans want to fly, no doubt about it, and this is the closest we will come
for now sans 747. Gliding looks good in "The Thomas Crown Affair," whether
Steve McQueen or Pierce Brosnan, but I will watch. Hot air ballooning is
another matter. Been there, done that and would go again tomorrow morning.
As one gets older, tastes change in everything except women and those of the
distaff side that we desire at that moment are usually not available. And
there are other decisions that direct our attention and determine our wants,
needs, desires, tastes, what we will or will not abide, the factors that weigh
heavily on what we do as participants or as fans. If we choose to play golf,
go horseback riding, undertake kite surfing (for the more adventurous among
us), ride a Harley, jet ski, sail, windsurf, scuba dive or snorkel, take to
archery in the manner of Robin Hood, skateboard, ski, skate, run or walk for
cancer or other similar causes ... even a marathon or two, water ski or go
white water rafting, it is because we want to, we cannot resist the challenge.
If conditions become such that the event is suddenly high on the tenuous list
and the lounge at the resort or den at home beckons, into the car, onto the
tram, a ride in the limo or a short walk back and easy decision. On the other
hand, once we have paid hard-earned dollars to watch someone else contend,
play, lock horns and there is a sudden cloudburst, wind that will take the
clothes off your back, snow, frigid temperatures, incredibly hot day at the
other end of the thermometer, then we have a decision to make. Is it the
boastful and pride-ridden "I was there!" that keeps you shivering away and
then wondering where the heck you parked your car or just a twinge of sporting
insanity? Was the giant screen at home such a bad choice after all?
Outdoor sports are here to stay; there is no doubt about it. The weather, like
sex and gambling, is part of our world and all three bring their own measures
of discovery, surprises, wins and losses that satiate a need within ... to
just do it. To try. To succeed ... on our own or in the shared shadow of our
partners, companions, heroes or the image in the mirror when you can tell it
"Yes, I did that!" I am not going skydiving but an eagle on a par five? That
makes the day, year, lifetime. Walking with Tiger Woods and the rest of the
crowd as the rains come down and my umbrella rests comfortably back at the
hotel? Not so sure. Rooting for my favorite NFL team from my home? Sounds
like a plan enhanced by replays and the creature comforts around me. Up in the
nosebleed section while the winds nip at my face like so many bees on a
rampage and I fear for the beer behind me falling out of the hands of the
inebriated guy rooting for the other team? Not a good choice. But, for the
72,000 others who love being there, it is part and parcel of the fan
Like the credo of U.S. postal workers - "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor
gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their
appointed rounds." The rounds in this case translate to attendance at events.
As billion dollar stadiums, arenas, ballparks continue to be built someone
must know something ... as do all those fans adorned with Gortex, North Face,
Eddie Bauer, L.L. Bean, Patagonia, American Eagle, Abercrombie, Roxy, Lands
End and others.
The heck with the rain ... so you get a little wet, so what? Get out that 3-
wood and go for the green! Also, you did remember to bring an umbrella,
right? And you don't believe that bear has more than a can of food in mind?
You gotta be kidding!