Friday, August 30, 2013

Old school? Yes and no

       I am old school; I am not old school. Going back and forth on this as I thought about it the past week or two.
       Yes, some changes from "the old days" -- the 1950s and '60s when I was a kid -- bother me. But I  love today's world. We have so many advantages now, and it's silly to want to turn back progress.
       But "old school" means I like my watch with hour and second hands pointing to numbers going clockwise (bad pun) around the face; I don't want a digital watch. But a digital alarm clock next to my bed, that's fine.
       Old school: I don't want an electric can opener. The old-fashioned turn-the-handle kind is good ... but then how often do we open cans these days?
       Don't want to use an electric razor; I never did. I'm an old-school blade guy, and not the three-, four- or five-blade type, either.
       I much prefer air conditioning. There was a time when we had very little of it -- at home, in school, in stores.
       I am certainly not old school about television, about the 24-hour news cycle. I'm not old school about the Internet and Facebook and Twitter; we are so connected with the world, with our friends, and it's good.
        We have so many choices. We're looking for something to watch on TV the other night and click on the U-Verse guide to check the old movies on Channel 790. Channel 790?
         Remember when we only had two channels to watch in Shreveport-Bossier, and they went off the air at midnight when it became test-pattern time?
         Cable TV was 30 years away, maybe; you had to get up to change the channel manually -- remote-control clickers, are you kidding? -- and if news broke, you might find out about it hours later ... unless you were listening to the radio.
         And if you listened to ballgames on the radio -- for us that meant the Cardinals or, in the '60s, the Colt 45s/Astros and, for some reason, the White Sox -- you might get up-to-the-moment scores and an occasional game detail.
         I am old school about dressing up -- suit and tie -- for most weddings (but not every wedding party requires that) and certainly for funerals.
         But where I used to dress nicely for work almost daily -- slacks, shirt (but no T-shirt) and regular shoes -- I turned into a tennis shoes/T-shirts/shorts or jeans guy a couple of decades ago. Thought people might faint on the (very) rare occasions I would show up at the office in coat-and-tie.
         Here's an old-school wish: Can we turn gasoline prices back to 19 and 23 cents per gallon? Sure, my wife says -- and then you also have to do with a standard-shift transmission (I never did learn to operate that) and without power steering, automatic turn signals and seat belts, and the various safety measures.
          Let me assure you that putting out newspapers these days is SO much easier than when I broke into the field in the 1960s. Now a story or a photo can be on a page in a matter of moments; a process that used to take hours.
         I have no longing for the old-school days of newspapering. When they did away with composing rooms and the people in them -- they were, to be tactful, often a pain in the rear end -- it was a great day. Sorry if that offends some of my old buddies.
         However, I am very old school about writing and editing. I will not use -- it hurts me to even type this -- "newbies" or call people "dudes" or abbreviate all sorts of things -- and I believe in putting commas where they belong, such as in front of but or then when a sentence is in transition. I have hundreds of editing quirks, and I'm not apologizing for them.
         Of course, newspapers themselves now are becoming "old school" because there are far less readers and they generate far less revenue. I don't like that because it was a good way to make a living.
         I was fond of my VCR and video tapes; what great technology when they were introduced. Now they're old-school, and I'm up for whatever is next.
         Cellphones are one of the great inventions of our time. Don't want to go back to rotary-dial phones or -- oh, my gosh -- party lines.
       Now, turning to sports ...
       I am old school in some baseball traditions -- stirrups (socks) showing (but not too much); to heck with today's players who wear their pantslegs down to the ground. I liked it when relief pitchers worked two, three or four innings, not just one inning (or one batter). Talk about slowing down games; how about all those pitching changes.
      But I'm OK with the designated hitter; not crazy about it, but OK. Only thing is, when pitchers in the American League feel like throwing at batters, they don't have to worry about coming to bat -- and being thrown at -- themselves.
      I liked it when they began putting players' names on the back of uniforms. However -- old school -- the Yankees are the only team in the major leagues that doesn't ever do that, and I hope it stays that way.
      I am not old school about football; the game today is faster and, because of that, more violent in a sense, but it's always been violent when you consider the rules in the old days that often meant dirty play went unpunished.
      I don't have a problem with the increased protection for quarterbacks and other skill-position players. I don't like seeing anyone get hurt, but if you're going to play that sport, you know the risk.
The photo and story that inspired this blog
(from Sports Illustrated, Aug. 14, 2013)
      I am somewhat old school about football uniforms, which is one reason that brought this blog to mind. Looking at Sports Illustrated's college football issue two weeks ago, a picture of a 1965 UCLA team huddle reminded me how much I loved the Bruins' uniforms -- powder blue jerseys, old-gold helmets and pants ... but nothing written that said "UCLA." Still, I knew that was UCLA.
      I remember, too, how LSU had the gold helmets with just a player's uniform number on them, and the jerseys didn't say LSU. Same gold-white-gold look, though, and it was cool. I remember Louisiana Tech's red helmets ... before the logo of the state of Louisiana and the "T" coming out of it.
      And I believe that's it's wonderful that some teams have the "old school" helmets without any decals -- Notre Dame's gold and the Cleveland Browns come to mind. But is there any football team out there without some sort of identification on its uniform?
      I'm not a big fan of the no-huddle, hurry-up spread offenses. I like a huddle-up, run-the-football-when-you-need-to offense (and give your defense a good rest), but maybe that's old-time thinking and I should adapt.
       I actually like the 3-point basket in basketball now, although I didn't care for it much at first. It gives the trailing team, or the team with lesser talent, a chance to catch up. The long shorts players wear today? Silly at first, but now I've gotten used to the fashion.
      Sometimes I wish they'd take the shot clock out of college basketball, and give a team the chance to spread the court and hold the ball. Sure, it was boring -- very boring -- but it was a strategy that could give a lesser, smaller team an equalizing weapon. Just an old-school thought.
      Women's basketball? Great, especially once they made it a five-on-five full-court game, not the three-on-offense, three-on-defense '40s-'50s-'60s version (so old school).
      Instant replay, video replays -- fabulous. It changed our world. No old-school wishes there.
      Wish they'd expand the use of instant replay in baseball. I am very much in favor of the way it's used in college football and the NFL. Yeah, it slows down the game a bit, but it also means the calls are correct 95 percent of the time.
      Here's something I wish was "old school" -- baseball (or sports in general) without steroids or performance-enhancing drugs or blood doping (hello, cycling). Just get sick and tired of reading or hearing about it.
      I'm not for the pre-players' union days, but I wish the players didn't have as much bargaining power as they have now. In baseball, the players' union -- not Bud Selig and his cronies -- really run the game. Don't believe otherwise.
      We could use more "old school" compromising in American politics; is that even possible these days? I do have dreams. Civil rights, social rights ... I would hate to see us turn the clock back on so much that has been done.
      And that's the point, I suppose -- we shouldn't turn back progress. Today's world -- in general and in sports -- is a wonderful place to be. "Old school" might be good in a few instances, but mostly it's not and I like it that way.             

1 comment:

  1. From Jimmy Russell: I enjoyed reading this. Who needs the shot clock for college basketball? Who can really hold the ball? North Carolina? Because they worked on it; it was a way to WIN. While a lot of coaching goes on today, MORE went on before the shot clock. It just helps the team with the best players [because] it gives them another opportunity to catch up. Does the four-corners always work? NO. Think back to 1977 when NC tried it on Marquette and Al McGuire; Marquette won the national championship. Hey let’s keep the numbers on the helmets at LSU and no names on the jerseys. The Yankees say it all.