As mentioned from time to time over the years, my classmates in the Summerlin Institute Class of 1958 awarded me — with ample justification — the title of “Least Athletic.”
This does not mean that I do not enjoy sports as a spectator activity.
My two favorite spectator sports are (1) football and (2) whatever I am watching one of my grandchildren play.
I am indebted to my son, Loyal — whose childhood plan was to become first baseman for the Chicago Cubs — for helping me understand the ever-changing rules of sports.
Some are pretty basic. For example:
• Decking an intended pass receiver hard enough to knock him into the eighth row of the end zone bleachers is subject to being called pass interference, provided the ref is paying attention.
• Soccer is a non-contact sport, which means that knocking an opponent head over heels must be made to look unintentional. This rule actually has encouraged a number of mediocre athletes to find promising careers in acting.
Loyal has pointed out to me that in countries in which football (known in the U.S. as soccer) is a national obsession, when a player is tripped up by an opponent, he is required by local custom to grimace in pain as one might with a life-threatening injury.
Not until after the trippor has been penalized for the infraction is the trippee allowed to experience a miraculous recovery and trot happily back to rejoin his teammates.
When I was taking basketball in high school physical education class, we were taught that dribbling must be accomplished with the finesse of a prima donna pirouetting across the stage in Nutcracker Suite.
Double-dribbling consisted of stopping the dribble, then resuming without passing the ball to a teammate.
It also consisted of palming the ball, which was basically catching the ball with one hand and carrying it a few steps before flipping it over and bouncing it again.
The other once inviolable rule was traveling, which meant taking more than two (or was it three?) steps without taking a shot.
In the passage of 60 years or so, palming the ball has become routine, and traveling is called only if a player neglects to bounce the ball once or twice while running the entire length of the court.
A week or two ago, the outcome of one of the last games in the basketball finals was said to be jeopardized when a player who was dribbling the ball dropped it, chased it across the court, and picked it up to begin dribbling again.
Veteran sportscasters said he should have been called for double-dribbling, a term I didn’t think they even knew.
A few weeks before that, a pass defender creamed an intended receiver hard enough to knock the numbers off his jersey while the ball was still in the air nearly a county away. No infraction was called.
There was discussion of putting foul calls or non-calls on instant replay, or at least allowing 12-year-olds to send them to friends on Snapchat.
The sacred sports rules of my high school P.E. days have become a relic of the past.
(S. L. Frisbie is retired. Despite his limited prowess in sports, he always made an A in P.E. in high school. All this required was remembering to dress out for class. This was roughly equivalent to remembering to bring a slide rule to a math test.)