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Tricky business for sports fans

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By Rob Witwer

I remember being about 10 years old and coming home from the dentist with a sore tooth. Because I was hurting, my mom let me stay up to watch a Nuggets game on our tiny black-and-white TV.
The early 1980s were good times for the Nuggets — I still remember guys like Alex English, Dan Issel and David Thompson giving the Lakers a run for their money, always coming up a little short but somehow never disappointing the little kid in Evergreen.
A couple of years later, I got into the Broncos. I really started paying attention about the time they drafted John Elway, and I remember my friend’s father taking the two of us to the first NFL game I ever got to see in person.
It was Elway’s rookie year. The Baltimore Colts led 19-0 going into the fourth quarter, and Elway led the team on a comeback — his first NFL comeback — to beat the Colts 21-19. It was magical.
Either I wasn’t exposed to off-court and off-field news or there wasn’t any, especially on the financial side. Being a fan meant watching games and rooting for the players, period. To be sure, the business of sports took place, but the game was the main story.
Fast forward to 2011.
Like many of you, I spend a good deal of time in the car with my kids going back and forth between school, hockey practice, birthday parties and the like. Usually I have the radio on while the kids read, play games with their brothers, or argue with one another the way kids do.
I could never tell if the kids were paying much attention to ESPN or the Sirius NFL channel — until last week.
It was somewhere between Carmelo Anthony’s $65 million deal with the Knicks and the news stories about millionaire NFL players fighting billionaire NFL owners that my oldest son asked me, “Dad, is pro sports just about money?”
“I guess so,” I replied.
There’s a certain amount of bliss in being ignorant about what happens behind the scenes of your favorite sport. But I’m not sure that’s possible anymore.
I’ve switched to the BBC. Thank goodness for satellite radio.

Rob Witwer is a former member of the Colorado House of Representatives and co-author of the book “The Blueprint: How Democrats Won Colorado and Why Republicans Everywhere Should Care.”