I would liken filling out an online application for Hampton Classic media credentials to going clean in its 15-obstacle Grand Prix, a challenge that only a few riders — and these are world-class ones — achieve each year. Frankly, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the beneficence of Robin Rea, The Star’s business manager, who didn’t exactly fly through the tortuous form that, among other things, required you to drag into it a photo of yourself with no hat, tearsheets from last year’s coverage, and a signature that, despite her best efforts, I could not in the end affix.
They must know me by now. I’ve only been covering the show since 1979, the year that Ev Rattray — sensing, I think, that a marital separation was weighing me, a lighthearted soul by nature, down — switched my beat from the Town Bored to sports, which I quickly came to view as the joy department, graceful, free movement (as well as intellectual freedom) being to my mind at the heart of life.
I say this knowing that, when it comes to athleticism, I can no longer move gracefully, or, for the most part, even move period. One does not like to feel constrained — as I, and I’m sure many others, did during the Covid pandemic. Filling out media credential forms online, for instance, is constraining, not to mention demeaning, though I should be thankful it only happens once a year.
Why can’t I, then, be declared in my eighth decade an exempt sportswriter, exempt from any pettiness or tediousness, online or otherwise, and, for that matter, exempt from being put on interminable hold while subjected to awful music, exempt from robocalls, unsolicited solicitations, special pleadings, jarring usage, logorrhea (see Ramaswamy in the Republican debates), smarminess and officiousness — exempt, in short, from the dreck whose existence leads one to forget for a moment that a body and mind at play are at the heart of life.