My son noticed this past weekend that I don’t watch as much sports on television as I used to. He asked my wife what was wrong with me? I hadn’t really noticed a big difference. If there was a game on TV that featured a team I wanted to pull for, I watched it. For instance, I watched the Monday Night Football game on ESPN because Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos were playing. If the New York Yankees are on TV, I watch their games. I watch the Tennessee Volunteers play any time they’re on the tube, in any sport, but to simply tune in to watch a game just because it’s on TV is something I never do any more.
I guess after years of covering stories like the Aaron Hernandez murder accusations in Boston, or the Barry Bonds steroid controversy has soured my outlook on the sports world. The Jerry Sandusky-Penn State scandal of 2011 almost ruined sports for me on any level.
In America, we actually cheer and pull for athletes who make millions of dollars, yet sometimes do horrible things. This has been called a “really messed-up concept” and I agree wholeheartedly.
In 2008, when the University of Tennessee fired head football coach Phillip Fulmer, I actually covered that story as well as the search for his replacement. I seemed to be in a daze every day as I worked to cover the story. I was mad, hurt and had completely lost faith in those “powers that be” in Knoxville to do the right thing. A few months after Fulmer was dismissed at Tennessee, I went through the same thing as WRCB-TV dismissed me as sports director because they didn’t want to pay me anymore.
So if you’re like my son and wondering what’s wrong with me because I don’t watch as much sports on TV anymore, maybe I answered your question. Now, I simply have some other interests. I would rather watch a good movie than a good ball game on TV unless it features someone or some team that I pull for.
In 2013, you must really look hard to find good sports stories. A couple of weeks ago my good friend Ron Bishop announced he was bringing in Yankee pitching great Andy Pettitte to speak at a fund-raising banquet in November. When I called Coach Bishop about securing tickets and buying a table, he told me it was to raise money for an orphanage in the Dominican Republic. Andy Pettitte had already written a huge check to SCORE International for the orphanage, and was coming to town in November to help raise more money for it. That my friends is a good sports story.
I haven’t lost faith in my fellow man, but I have lost faith in our society’s ability to distinguish between sports stars and real every day heroes. Police officers, fire fighters, military personnel, and teachers are among our true heroes. They’re on the front lines each and every day and doing it for meager pay. When that changes, maybe I’ll watch more sports on television. Until then, I’ll look forward to watching the season premiere of Criminal Minds.
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga. He is also the Head Softball Coach at Brainerd. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).