Four Corners: What sports tradition would you like to see eliminated?

November 30, 2009

Anthem has lost meaning
Nick Fierro, The Morning Call

The national anthem should be eliminated from all but the most important sporting events in this country, such as Super Bowls, World Series and Ultimate Fighting title bouts.

Just kidding on the last one, but you should get the idea by now that having to stand for this song at every event and every level of sport from T-ball to the pros has become just a little ridiculous.

At one time, such as when this tradition began during World War II, it might have been a good idea to promote patriotism. Now, all it promotes is … nothing. It has become a mindless exercise.

Think about all the times you stand for this song and then try to remember the times you actually think about how proud you are to be an American when it's playing.

Then you'll know what I'm talking about.

nfierro@tribune.com

Hands down: The shake
Dom Amore, Hartford Courant

The Patriots embarrassed the Jets last week, and made a point of it - throwing long with a few seconds to go and putting Randy Moss in on defense to stop a meaningless Hail Mary on the last play. So it was no surprise to see Bill Belichick and Rex Ryan shake hands with the same expressions they'd wear for a root canal with no anesthetic. Belichick pulled his hand back and looked away so quickly, it was like he'd shaken hands with Swamp Thing.

Anyway, this is a tradition football can discontinue at any time now. We all like sportsmanship and want our kids to see examples of it, but kids are smart enough to know when it's insincere and meaningless. Let coaches who are friends, who have respect for each other, go out and shake hands after a game. But when coaches clearly dislike or disrespect each other, what's the point?

damore@courant.com

Pitch the first pitch
Peter Schmuck, Baltimore Sun

It's time to start a movement to get rid of baseball's ceremonial first pitch, because the only person who finds it entertaining is the notable citizen, celebrity or politician who gets an extra 15 seconds of fame for throwing it.

There are exceptions, of course. The fans pay attention when the president or some really big celebrity shows up on the mound for the first-ball ceremony, but who really cares if the CEO of some local insurance company that sponsors the team can lob a baseball 60 feet to the backup catcher?

If baseball must continue this tradition, I have a suggestion.

I think it would be much more interesting if the person being honored - particularly if it's a politician - had to catch the pitch instead from the hardest thrower on the home team. I'd pay to see that.

pschmuck@tribune.com

Nix the 7th-inning stretch
Shannon Ryan, Chicago Tribune

Perhaps the only game in which players can potentially compete without moving doesn't need a break.

A game without a clock that could potentially last for days and has 17 breaks doesn't need a timeout.

The seventh-inning stretch in baseball is like yawning in the middle of a nap.

It's completely unnecessary and counterproductive. It adds time to a game that's lost generations of fans who have grown bored with the endlessness of it all.

That is unless I'm missing the point and it's intended to wake up everyone in the stands.

People certainly become alert at Wrigley Field during the tired tradition, usually to plug their ears as celebrities lead the sing-along with the wrong off-key, off-beat words.

MLB needs to help MLB. It's time to put the seventh-inning stretch to bed.

sryan@tribune.com

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