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Savran: Proper perspective, passion can coexist

Saturday, September 29, 2001

The dictionary defines perspective thusly: In due proportion.

It's appropriate to revisit the definition at this time because it has been made repeatedly and abundantly clear to me, and all who enjoy and might even be passionate about sports, that none of us has a proper perspective.

Because we choose to spend our recreational time immersed in games, it follows that we don't have sufficient intellect to delineate between what's real and important and what is not.

I know this is true because television news anchors have told me so.

Worse yet, so have television sports anchors.

And they would know because, after all, they make their living reading scores off a TelePrompTer, so they are equipped and entitled to decide what the important matters are and how to prioritize them.

"These are just games," they tell us.

Yes, they are.

But why, in the wake of our national tragedy, is it automatically assumed that a person who invests emotionally in sports is perspective-challenged?

Why is it that we have to be carefully spoon-fed these bitter doses of reality?

Treated as though our passion for sports is a synonym for being intellectually infirm, therefore mandating that we must be addressed in hushed tones so as not to disturb our flat-line brain waves?

I've been passionate about sports all my life, and that passion has resulted in exhilarating highs and devastating (at the time) lows.

But never, in either extreme, was I willing to trade a win or a loss for the health and happiness of a loved one.

Not once did I confuse the transitory sadness of losing with the permanent despair of losing both of my parents.

Why is there this presumption that we need help in defining perspective because we like games?

If we turn to sports in seeking a diversion in these troubled times, is our perspective more distorted than those who go to a movie or a play seeking the same escape?

Are we less socially conscious because we prefer football to the ballet?

Both groups are watching performances. It's all entertainment.

Do people coming out of a Broadway musical have to be reminded by the ushers that the Phantom of the Opera isn't a real person?

Should the show crowd be forced to visit the "Perspective-Check Office" before they're allowed to exit the theater?

Why then are we, as sports fans, asked to do the same?

Probably because of the stereotype. Bare-chested, body-painted louts, bellowing at the top of what's left of their lungs whenever a television camera is within sniffing distance.

I understand the misperception, but even that group's behavior doesn't necessarily reflect a lack of comprehension or lack of respect for the national crisis. It's just a release, no better or worse than building model airplanes or gardening. Just different.

And, despite the appearance and demeanor of these fans, do those presumptuous and elitist enough to offer their perspective on our perspective actually believe there are those who would consider a Steelers' Super Bowl defeat the equivalent of the disastrous events of September 11th?

Far too often, people in the industry have added to the misrepresentation by sticking pins in the balloons of the industry that provided them air.

Howard Cosell was great for that. As much as I admired him for any number of reasons, he would constantly tell anyone and everyone that sports were unimportant and that people who thought otherwise had a terrible imbalance in their lives.

And naturally, a horribly distorted perspective.

Yet it was that very perspective that created and fed Cosell.

He always craved respect, and yet he showed absolutely none to the fans nor to the institutions that constructed the platform which enabled him to speak.

If it wasn't important to us, we wouldn't have been watching in the first place.

How about letting you and me decide what's important to us?

How about being given the latitude to make our own choices as to which rung to place sports on the priority ladder?

It's our ladder, isn't it?

I very much resent the implication that because I choose to expend a great deal of energy and emotion on games I'm incapable of comprehending the catastrophic events of recent days. That I cannot differentiate between fantasy and reality.

Well, my perspective is just fine, thank you, because even without disaster, I've always understood the difference between them.

Stan Savran is the co-host of "SportsBeat" at 6:30 p.m. weekdays on Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh.

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