I grew up dreary eyed, stumbling, in search of the morning newspaper, hungry for news of ball scores, won-loss records, knockouts administered by boxing heroes, and track records set by the “world’s fastest men.” Today I can take it or leave it. My flicker of a sports passion is dying a slow, agonizing but somewhat relieved death. The Thrill of Victory and The Agony of Defeat no longer get me amped up.

Why? That’s easy enough. It’s not the same.

Okay, admittedly, I’m into late-middle age and know more than I should. I know that sports have always included cheaters. I know that fat cat jock-sniffers were giving money to “amateur” players before there were even scholarships. I know that owners aren’t great sportsmen but businessmen negotiating with cities, for their last dimes. I know that heroes have always been flawed, not because they were bad people but because they are human.

Shall I continue?

I know that 24 hour around-the-clock sports news includes as much legal and crime news as it does ball scores. I know young boys today can get as excited about playing a sports video game or building a “fantasy sports league as my generation did actually organizing a game, and playing our own Super Bowl in somebody’s backyard. I recognize professional sports when I see it regardless of whether the “amateur” players are paid or not. It’s all business all the time.

Check out some headlines from the sports section of an April 2011 issue of USA TODAY.

BCS Critics want more Fiesta Type scrutiny

BCS Criticism mounts

Lockout raises draft stakes

Dodger can win under MLB control, GM told

Question: Is MLB takeover of Dodgers good or bad?

McCourt tarnishing Dodger tradition

Game-fixing probe spreads

Tree poisoning suspect back on radio

Had enough? It continues. College football spring intrasquad games are nationally televised. It’s a scrimmage for crying out loud! High schools travel for matchups with “football” schools from neighboring states, paid for by corporate sponsors.

And it’s all day, all the time, 24 and 7 brought to you by, talking heads and paid for by sponsors.

Who cares?

I do, really. I still love the game. It’s the game that gets my juices flowing. Between the lines, sixty minutes of action, the two-minute warning, fourth and goal, mano vs mano. Yes!

The talking heads I can take or leave. Former players posing as hard-core analysts, “When I played… ”

It’s nauseating.

I miss the innocence of a pickup game in the street between the up hill guys and the down hill guys. I miss the mystery of rushing to open the sports section and discovering the scores from the night before. I miss identifying with a team because the players stayed there long enough to remember them from year to year. I miss the Wide World Of Sports. I miss big college games in the middle of the season, pitting two of the nations best teams against one another and the loser not having to worry about the silly BCS.

My sports passion is dying. I miss it.