Aaron Sorkin captured generations of newspaper sports page readers, in an episode of his award-winning TV series, “The West Wing.” In the aforementioned scene, a psychologist (played by Adam Aarkin) is examining a presidential advisor (played by Bradley Whitford) about a personal unsettling national event.
In trying to explain the event, the advisor says, “you must have read about it, it was in all the newspapers.”
The psychologist says, “it wasn’t in the sports pages.”
The message here is both clever and clear. Some people read just the sports pages, and by doing so intentionally, or unintentionally, stay away from the news.
Well, recently, the Post Register ran an opinion column on the sports page, entitled, “Column: In Retrospect, ‘Field of Dreams’ is a Terrible Film.” By placing the column on the sports page, it brought the internet / insulting tweets / say any rude thing you like online, onto the comfortable, safe, predictable confines of the sports page.
AP Sports writer, Paul Newberry, disparages the film “Field of Dreams” throughout the column. He states it is time for a major film reassessment, just another ‘terrible’ film, has ‘horrible casting’ (gives one minor character example as proof), is ‘corny’ / ‘schmaltzy’ / ‘barf bag’ like and ignores baseball’s racial history. And what expertise does Mr. Newberry bring as a film critic? None. He is just an example of a person who is an expert in one field and believes his opinions outside his profession are of value.
Well, what about the film being disparaged? Is it worth defending? Is it worth a response on the commentary page? Here are some film ‘facts.’ The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Academy Awards) selected the film as Best Picture nominee in 1989. The American Film Institute ranked the movie at #6 for all-time best fantasy pictures (the movie was never intended to be a baseball documentary). The Library of Congress in 2017 selected the film for the national film registry noting it was “culturally, historically and aesthetically significant.”
The late renowned film critic Roger Ebert awarded the film a perfect four stars, stating “this is the kind of movie Frank Capra might have directed.” Film critic Leonard Maltin called the film “a story of redemption and faith, in the tradition of the best Hollywood fantasies with moments of pure magic.”
Sports writer Newberry’s disparaging column was captured in the 1934 musical, “Anything Goes,” with these lyrics, “the world has gone mad today, and good’s bad today … anything goes”.
Sports page readers understand reality. They understand there will be the occasional sports scandal, and that sports adulation is half-truth and half-myth. But, we are the 65,000 people who visit the “Field of Dreams” baseball field in Iowa every year, and believe that sports are “part of our past (and) remind us of all that once was good.” Sports writer Newberry is not going to convince us that what once was good is now bad.