Illusions Lost and Regained

Sport at the highest levels, whether labeled professional or merely operated that way, has always demanded of its followers a certain capacity for illusion. Exalting the athletes we pay to play for us over the ones they pay to play for them is tricky. It requires an ability to squint a little and forget a lot, to gild things.

For instance, basketball fans know full well the indelicacies of college recruiting but are ready to imagine that their school's pituitary catch matriculated like any other student and went out for the team. Pro-football fans are hip to the sport's ghastly rigors...

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