Things I’ve dropped like a bad habit

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is another column from my Burlington Times-News days, published on May 17, 2015. It starts with some thoughts I had about boxing, a sport I used to love, and wound into a list of the things I once enjoyed or engaged in that I don’t seem to do anymore. And in the update department, I still don’t do those things —  but I did put some Paul Revere and the Raiders songs on my playlist.

—-

I took a pass recently on the much ballyhooed and latest Fight of the Century. You know the one. It ended with the aging guy who beats up women winning a decision by running away all night from the aging foreign dude.

Best $90 I never spent.

The fight happened in Las Vegas, because, well, that kind of thing seems to always happen in Vegas. In this case, it really should’ve stayed there.

Anyway, as it turns out, a lot of people paid big money to witness this would-be spectacle. The total revenues from the bout came to more than $500 million. In all, 4.4 million Americans tuned in.

This all proves that P.T. Barnum was way, way wrong. There are three or four suckers born every minute, not just one.

Both fighters made nine figures on this deal — that’s well in excess of $100 million for those who are counting-impaired. The fight ended with neither man doing much damage to the other and one claiming to be injured and demanding a rematch.

Of course he does. Who wouldn’t want another shot at so many soft-touches willing to part with their money?

I’ve said no to boxing for a long time now because I became convinced of a couple of things. First and foremost, it’s dangerous for the people involved. Watching men give brain damage to other men for money seems inherently inhuman. I think more highly of my time and self-worth than that. Second, it’s a sport populated by a lot of bad people. And third, often on the biggest stage boxing disappoints.

Oddly enough, I was a huge boxing fan as a kid growing up in the late 1960s and ‘70s when Paul Revere and the Raiders was my favorite band and fights involving the charismatic Muhammad Ali and the hard-charging and imminently hittable Joe Frazier were shown on tape delay via ABC’S “Wide World of Sports.” Those shows were voiced by bombastic announcer Howard Cosell — a Winston-Salem native, no less. Those who couldn’t wait a week or so to see it had the option of plunking down $10 to $20 to witness the bouts live on something called “closed-circuit TV” at the nearest coliseum.

ali frazier

But the eventual and sad degeneration of Ali due to Parkinson’s began to alter my thinking.

Probably the last time I watched a pay-per-view fight electric-haired promoter Don King was still screaming “Only in America!” and Mike Tyson had no tattoos on his face and had neither spent time in prison nor developed his own cartoon show. It was in 1988 (I looked it up to be sure) Tyson knocked out Michael Spinks in 91 seconds. I think the pay-per-view was $40.

Never again.

This boxing stuff, though, made me wonder about other things I used to do that I don’t anymore.

For example, I used to be a two-pack-a-day smoker. Something people who meet me for the first time now find difficult to believe. But really, I emitted more air pollution per capita than Beijing. I haven’t had one since May 1, 2002.

Never again.

In the spring and summer I used to play golf once or even twice a week — terribly I might add — and did so up until about 1991. I sprayed balls into the woods so often that I posed a bigger menace to trees than pine beetles. I once won a prize for most lost balls during a media pro-am in High Point.

Then my brother, a one-time assistant golf pro, gave me the most helpful tip I would ever receive.

“Give up the game,” he said, and then added: “You can take hundreds of dollars in lessons, practice every day, hit balls until your hands bleed and still you won’t be any good.”

Always listen when a professional offers advice. The last I saw of my golf clubs was when they were carted off at a yard sale.

Never again.

In the Impossible-to-Believe Department, I was once registered with one of the two major political parties that are currently working overtime to destroy America. I resigned years ago into the land of unaffiliated contrarians.

I am very happy with this decision.

Never again.

And then there were those mayonnaise sandwiches I used to eat as a kid.

Need I say more?

And I can’t recall the last time I had sweet tea, or bologna, or watched David Letterman, or played pickup basketball or rode a bike, or listened to a loud rock band in a dingy nightclub or even heard a song by Paul Revere and the Raiders for goodness sakes.

I’ll probably never do any of those things again. The truth is people change over time. Interests broaden or narrow. Stuff that seemed incredibly important fades into oblivion. And then you wake up one day and find that Texas Pete no longer makes hot dog chili.

But I won’t rule out putting Paul Revere and the Raiders on my iPod.

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