You begin to think maybe life isn’t so complex and stormy after all, maybe we just see it that way. Maybe life should be all about the next ball game, the next big trade, the next chance at a world championship. Why the hell not?
But just when you begin to think maybe Barkann’s well doesn’t run so deep, he hits you with this: “In a city like Philadelphia, an old city with great history, where neighborhoods are connected one to the other, sports means more than it does in a lot of other places. We define ourselves through the successes and failures of our teams. When the Phillies are in the World Series, it could be pouring rain, but we all have an extra bounce in our step. And when things aren’t going well, when the Eagles get knocked out of the playoff picture, we’re crushed. Our hopes are dashed. All we can think about is spring training and how far away it seems. Sports is part of the cycle of life here; it’s how we relate, how we measure seasons, highs and lows, life and death. Sports can pull you through. It can be a good thing, a really good thing.”
And, you know, I buy that — don’t you?
Still, even if Barkann knows exactly what he’s part of, in stirring the local sports conversation, I wonder what it’s like to live so much of one’s life on television. It must suck a bit of the soul out of you, to be always looking into a TV camera, to have to always be on. I mean, it must, right?
For the first time, Barkann looks at me confused, like he doesn’t understand what I’m getting at.
Then, after several moments, he says: “That is me on television. I’m the same guy on and off the air. Exactly. How great is that? When the light goes on, all I have to do is be myself. Is there a better way to make a living?”