The Princeton man is under fire. As if it’s Bob Bradley’s fault that former MetroStar Tim Howard played like he never deserved to escape New Jersey soccer purgatory.

 

What do you learn from the World Cup, Bob? That’s what Bradley’s real boss, U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati, and his pretend one, ESPN analyst Alexi Lalas, both want to know. It turns out the real answer to that question, the one Bradley will never even think of shooting back, is Bill Clinton.

 

Think about it. Is anyone having more fun in sports these days then good old Bill? Heck, is anyone else even having fun in sports?

 

It’s a fair question when Jennifer Capriati lies in South Florida hospital, recovering from an “accidental” overdose only Isiah Thomas would have no trouble believing. Or when Bubba Watson is breaking down into tears at his first career PGA Tour win because his father is battling cancer. Or when even the most-sought-after free agent in sports history cannot manage a smile in the process.


When did sports become such a life or (increasingly-too-often-literal) death proposition? When even formerly messed-up childhood prodigies like Capriati are getting TMZ coverage and emergency ambulance rides, the quaint notion of fun and games takes another hard jolt.


After Capriati followed Erica Blasberg — the 25-year-old LPGA golfer whose death is still largely only considered “mysterious” because her family seems to want it that way — into prescription drug trouble, what father is going to look at pushing his daughter into sports the same way? Even if that dad knows he’s not as much of a tyrannical loon as Stefano Capriati was back in the day.



But even when you move behind the creepy spectator of the Grim Reaper hovering over young athletes, sports are still hardly a bucket full of Chris Rock laughs. Heck, Kobe Bryant couldn’t even laugh at when the funniest man in the world spewed out some harmless trash talk practically in his ear during the NBA?Finals.


This distaste for fun is becoming a near international malady. LeBron James is running his free agency like he’s read one-too-many, kill-in-business books or listened strictly to his buddy Warren Buffett. LeBron orders team to visit him because that’s how you show who holds all the power.


Where’s the charm in that?


It’s disappearing from all sports, being squeezed out as surely as the idea of a blue-collar fan in the stands. In fact, now an idiot like Lalas almost becomes charming because he’s so over the top. Can you be the most annoying analyst in sports if you’re only seen once every four years? Damn, if Lalas isn’t giving it a good shot.


Which brings us back to Bill. Clinton just keeps showing up at sporting events like the U.S.-Ghana match, decked out in his slightly-cheesy gear, grinning to kingdom come. No one ever wonders if Bill’s having a good time. There’s something to that, something worth grabbing onto more than ever in today’s big business, big game, no fun world.


– Chris Baldwin covers the sports media for Metro.


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