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Peterson: Sports were better back in the day

In these sportless days now upon us, the television networks have taken to running sports events of the past, in some cases, the distant past.

We have seen countless reruns of the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.

The great rivalries of the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, and the Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche.

Even WLUC-TV in Marquette has dusted off its files to show past high school championship games.

It’s during these returns to the days of old that I’ve noticed something that I’ve suspected for some time:

Sports was much better 20 or 30 years ago.

The difference in basketball, particularly in the college and professional ranks, was crisper and better played.

The difference between the Celtics-Lakers matchups and today’s run-and-gun, no defense NBA is very glaring.

There are no Larry Birds or “Magic” Johnsons around — those guys knew how to play the game.

Even a LeBron James wouldn’t measure up today. The first time LeBron knocked over opponents on his way to the basket, he would likely be whistled for a foul. Or knocked to the floor (ala Kevin McHale-Kurt Rambis).

The NHL was also vastly different a couple of decades ago.

The Red Wings had a couple of enforcers (Bob Probert stood out) and they played a tough and efficient brand of hockey. None of those “namby pamby” games today that are often settled in a shootout.

The “Red Line” of Russian players in Detroit knew all about the angles of the game and they used it to forge winning teams.

Even high school sports are lacking in some respects. Although the athlete of today are likely more athletic than a decade or two ago, many of them lack the nuances.

Even a great hoops player like Brad Simonsen of Houghton was held back this season because of a lack of support from teammates.

I understand that dwindling schools numbers are a problem in our schools and that fewer kids go out for sports nowadays.

But I was watching highlights of the Lake Linden-Hubbell versus Portland St. Patrick Class D 1997 football title game the other night and was blown away by the sharpness of the Lakes.

That team was one of coach Ron Warner’s finest and they did everything with flawless execution in a 30-8 rout.

We may never see that kind of perfection again in any sport again. And that’s sad to contemplate.

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