by Randy Ooney
My Nickel’s Worth by Randy Ooney
We hear the term “Pro Am” frequently, normally in the world of sports, to separate the professional athletes from amateurs. The professionals are those who compete in sports and provide for their families with the money they earn playing. In days gone by, an amateur was not allowed to win money, but could compete for hardware, recognition, scholarships, and other incentives. The rules have been relaxed a bit. For example, drock is a professional bean counter, however he is an amateur bowler who makes more money in tournaments than I do at the senior pot games; and that’s a lot – just ask Doc Theis. Amateur football players at Ohio State were able to sell memorabilia from games in order to purchase necessities such as tattoos to prepare them for the NFL.
In the days when salaries were not so enormous, professional athletes were respected and earned that respect with admirable conduct on and off the field. When they did get out of line, there were not 125 cable TV, newspapers and radio reporters to record every move. Yeah, there was Leo Duroucher and Jocko Conlin, Earl Weaver and Ron Luciano; but people ignored those idiots and cast their respect to Harmon Killebrew, Stan Musial, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Dick Weber, Don Carter and many other true professionals.
Along came John McEnroe. A decent tennis pro who could not get through a set without ripping the officials up one side and down the other. It was funny at first, but got old quickly. He obviously watched way too much pro wrestling while young and never grew up. Bowling had their bad boy in the eighties. I happened to be at the 1995 ABC tournament, the first event at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno. Marshall Holman happened to be on the same squad as I was. The scoring condition was tough and Marshall had a 148 his first game. He threw such a tantrum, you would have thought someone stole his last Snickers bar from his lunch bag. Time passes us by, and now we have Pete Weber performing crotch chops for the TV audience, Tiger Woods tossing a golf club and kicking it at the Masters, New Orleans Saints players getting bonuses for injuring opponents, bench clearing brawls in baseball games. Even though these players are great in their chosen field, I have trouble referring to them as professionals.
I competed in a few Pro Am tournaments over the years. They were a feature of the LPBT and LPBA to help raise money for the pros. There are only a few bad apples, but players need to bring professionalism back, both on and off the field, lanes, court, or rink or the fans could look elsewhere while deciding where their sports dollars are spent. I have some Delmon Young baseball cards for sale cheap, in case you need something to cover oil spots on your garage floor or shingle your dog house.