Most athletes have that day, that moment, when they can’t be stopped. Whether it is a game in front of a large crowd or in the neighborhood in front of the home boys. You just feel it.
One day, when I had an athletic body, I was wearing folks out on the basketball court at South Boulevard Elementary School in Baton Rouge’s Beauregard Town area. That’s saying something, because I was all of 5’ 7’’ and 150 pounds. But the Lord had blessed me with smooth, quick moves and a good lefty jump shot. I was unstoppable.
But I was uncharacteristically talking smack that day. My three-on-three team won five consecutive games, then we quit. We had beaten every combination out there. There was no need to climb Mount Everest again.
I went over and sat under a nearby tree watching the losers play. An older guy I had seen around, but didn’t really know, walked over.
He told me that I was a pretty good, but that I talked too much. Was I that obnoxious? I told him that was not my style, but I did all that talking because I didn’t like a couple of the guys I was playing against. So they had to hear “Oops, did I score on you again? Get somebody else over here.”
Then the guy said: “You know the game will always get ya back. It doesn’t have to be today or tomorrow, but the game will always get ya back.”
I went home that day with his unsolicited words weighing heavily on my mind.
Over the years, I grew to understand exactly what he meant. It happens in sports, life, politics, you name it. The game always gets you back.
This past week, the game got cable television giant Bill O’Reilly back, and I’m ecstatic. The Fox News superstar, in my opinion, was one of the most detestable TV bullies ever.
What I learned is that no matter how powerful you are, how rich you are, how successful you are, the game with always find a way to make you pay for mistreating or belittling people.
My wife will verify that as we watch sporting events, or the news, I will point out how a person was sailing along being braggadocious or mean to people and then would have have a terrible downfall. “See, I told you, the game always gets you back.”
O’Reilly is a special case. Admittedly, I am a liberal, and O’Reilly is a fire-breathing conservative. Politically, I take great enjoyment in his fall. Maybe the game will get me back for feeling this way. But hey, so be it.
The game has returned brutal vengeance on people like former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards, former Presidents Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon, ex-football star O.J. Simpson, former Clinton prosecutor Ken Starr, Hillary Clinton, and others.
O’Reilly is the classic bully and sexist who took great pleasure in belittling some of his guests and, as it turned out, sexually harassing women — lots of them. While he claims he is the victim of these women, who are supposedly lying about him just to get his money, he and Fox News paid out more than $13 million to make some of the claims go away.
His frat brother in sexual harassment, President Donald “Grab’em by the female parts” Trump, has steadfastly supported O’Reilly. Maybe the game will be paying him back, too.
O’Reilly will get another show somewhere, and he will continue write mega-selling books, too. He is too popular and beloved by the right to just go away. His sexual harassment of women means little to most in that group. They just want a flame-thrower like him who will burn the hell out of the folks on the left.
Still, though, he will never be the same. No matter how many millions of dollars he was willing to part with, the game got him back. The game always gets you back.
Oh, just how did the game get me back? I believe it was the night my high school baseball coach did not let me play in my last game as a high school senior. I should have played. I said nothing at the time, but it hurt.
As that wise person told me long ao, “It doesn’t have to be today or tomorrow, but the game will always get ya back.”
Email Edward Pratt, a former newspaperman who writes a weekly Advocate column, at firstname.lastname@example.org.