It Was Just Better Back Then

I awakened this morning pensive, dare I say even a little melancholy. Not because the Giants lost to the Dodgers in 14 innings last night (though that didn’t help) but more because I realize with each passing minute, hour, day, month I am becoming one of those “get off my lawn!” guys. The more I think about things the more I want to say how much better the world was “when I was a kid”. I say this looking back on 60 years of a damn good life knowing that while I didn’t have to walk five miles to school every day, through the snow, uphill both ways; I did enjoy a childhood absent video games, hashtags and instant gratification. We played outside, mowed the lawn and made and kept friends. There were other things that were just better when I was growing up and here are, in my opinion, two of them.

BASEBALL

We shouldn’t be watching the World Series in November. When I was a kid they played more day baseball, actually scheduled double headers, the Fall Classic actually started and finished in the fall, and World Series games were played under brilliant blue skies, not bright lights. Games didn’t start after dinner or end long before any self-respecting 15 or 59 year old had to go to bed. I remember watching World Series games in elementary school thanks to teachers like Mr. Connelly and Mr. Coyle who brought in small black and white TV’s. It was better back then.

I don’t need to watch every Little League World Series game on TV. As a matter of fact I don’t need or want to watch ANY of them. I played Little League baseball and so did almost all of my friends but we couldn’t give one hoot about travelling squads, regional teams, or dreams of what Karel Ravetch, John Kruk and Curt Schilling might say about us. We played ball because we loved it and that’s what you did. When the game was over we grabbed a soda, some pizza and then went and played something else. We didn’t concentrate on one sport, we “dipped our toes” in all of them and we were better kids and people for it. It was just better back then.

GOLF

I don’t have to go back multiple decades to illustrate this point, just one. “In the old days” there was something called The PGA TOUR Qualifying Tournament or Q-School and that was the last chance PGA TOUR hopefuls had of obtaining playing privileges for the following year. Then along came the Hogan/Nike/Buy.com/Nationwide/Web.com Tour throwing out a lifeline for first 5, then 10, then 15, then 20, then 25 players. Earn enough money over the course of an entire year of tournaments and your ticket was punched for the PGA TOUR. Fail to do so and you still had Q-School on which to fall back. Now we have some convoluted mish mash of a season long effort combined with a manufactured “playoff” which resulted in the elimination of the Qualifying Tournament. In the process the PGA TOUR made what is now the Web.Com Tour a yawner, confused millions of golf fans, made it nearly impossible for some “graduates” to get a reasonable chance to even play on TOUR and eliminated two of the most drama filled, exciting, heart wrenching and heart-warming tournaments in golf. It was just better back then.

Sure a great deal is better now; ATM’s, 40 mile per gallon cars, air travel and Oreo Thins but some things haven’t improved at all, in fact they’ve gotten worse. I’m sure you have your own list so give it a shot and compile it. In the meantime, “Get off my lawn!”

About Keith Hirshland

My name is Keith Hirshland and I am a four decades television veteran who has spent time both in front of and behind the camera. During nearly forty years in broadcasting my path has crossed in front of, behind and alongside some of the best in the business... And some of the worst. Many of those people I count as friends while others wouldn't make the effort to spit on me if I was on fire. This television life started early watching my Mom and Dad found, fund and run a local affiliate TV station in Reno, Nevada. As a teenager approaching adulthood I worked for them, first as an on-air sports reporter/anchor and later as a director and producer. Jobs in the industry took me across the country and then to many places around the world. Sports is my passion and putting it on TV has been my business. Production credits include auto racing, baseball, basketball, bowling, college football, field hockey, soccer, volleyball and water polo but the majority of my time "in the chair" since 1990 has been invested in the game of golf with both ESPN and The Golf. Channel ( I was one of the first forty people hired by TGC in 1994 ). I am a fan and I watch TV sports as a fan but I also have hundreds of thousands of hours watching from inside a production truck. I think that makes me qualified to comment, my hope is you agree. I have written two books, Cover Me Boys, I'm Going In (Tales of the Tube from a Broadcast Brat), a memoir that is a tribute to my parents, the hard working, creative people who started ESPN2 and The Golf Channel and a look back at my life in television. My second book is a novel, Big Flies, and is a mystery that tells the story of a father and a son with four of the world's most notorious unsolved robberies as a backdrop. I look forward to sharing new thoughts about golf, golf television, sports in general and the broadcast industry with you. The views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They are not connected to nor endorsed by any other person, association, company or organization.
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