Usually, when someone asks me what was the last good book I’ve read, I look at them with a blank expression on my face and quote Rodney Dangerfield from his hilarious 1986 movie, “Back to School.”

“Read. Who has time? I see the movie. I’m in and out in two hours.”

Oh, I’ll occasionally pick up a book on wrestling. I’ve read a couple of really good ones over the past couple of years, and I’ve seen new books on Larry Zbyszko and Bruiser Brody that I want to pick up. But for the most part, if I read anything, it’s usually a magazine.

Last week, I found myself itching for something new to read, so I trekked down to Books A Million in Corbin to see if I could find something that grabbed my attention.

It seemed like my trip was going to be a fruitless endeavor. I gave a good look at books on ghosts, photography and rock stars, checked out a couple of graphic novels, but nothing grabbed my attention.

I then made my way to the sports section, where I read a little of the Zbyszko book (Adventures in Larryland), but decided I wanted to wait on that one. Just as I was getting ready to leave, I spied a book with a very familiar title: Bloody Confused!

Where had I heard that before. Then it hit me: My pal Ed Hibbitts told me of a book written by former Lexington Herald-Leader sports writer Chuck Culpepper on English soccer. I had forgotten about it, until this faithful day when it stared me right in the face, and I knew this was going to be my next purchase.

I’m about halfway through the book, and it has been a very delightful read, I must say. I’ve always been a fan of Culpepper’s writing, and hearing him describe his new-found love of the beautiful game is a joy. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read.

But this column isn’t about Culpepper’s book, though I could write an entire piece on it. It is about a new syndrome that I was unaware of, but now know that I suffer from.

Common Sportswriter Malaise. Or CSM, if you wish.

While Culpepper contracted CSM from being, as it says on the back of the book, “fed up with self-righteous proclamations, steroid scandals, and the deluge of in-your-face PR that saturated the NFL, the NBA, and MLB,” my exposure has come from years of exposure to high school sports.

Not that covering high school sports is bad. I enjoy watching our local teams. But let’s face it, you can’t be overly-critical of high school kids. And coaches, while sometimes giving you a jewel of a quote, most of the time rehash the same thing over and over. But that’s okay, because we usually ask the same questions over and over, so it’s a good give and take.

Coaches have to be very careful what they say to the press, or the Third Reich, I mean the Kentucky High School Athletic Association, will come down on them and slap them with a suspension for criticizing the officiating. And some coaches don’t want their players to talk to the press for fear of them saying something wrong.

So it’s a very sterile environment, to say the least.

That’s why I enjoy doing the interviews with professional wrestlers. It’s my lone chance to use quotes that are fun, exciting and can be controversial. It’s a nice change of pace from the usual run of the mill stuff.

Sure, you know and I know that wrestling is scripted, that the outcome is predetermined. But let me tell you, these guys give some of the best interviews, and I really enjoyed writing them.

I’m sure our local coaches could give just as good of an interview if they were allowed to speak what’s really on their mind. Wouldn’t it make for a great read if a coach, instead of saying they respected another team, just came out and said we are better than them and want to whip them?

Culpepper also notes in his book how he has rediscovered the joys of being an actual fan, after years of covering sports as a reporter. I can sympathize with him, for I feel like I have lost the ability to be a fan, to cheer and boo, to just have a good time at a sporting event. Even when I do get the chance to attend a game which I don’t have to cover, I still find it hard to actually enjoy the game. I find myself wondering how I would write the story, or if I see a great play, how I wished I had a camera to capture the moment.

When covering an event, as a professional, we aren’t supposed to cheer or make any comments from our assigned position, even though there have been times I felt like screaming something at the top of my lungs. In fact, I have witnessed so-called sports reporters cheering and booing from press row, but I guess they don’t know the meaning of “professional.”

I don’t think I’ll have the chance to move to England to help get over my case of CSM. I’ll have to find other ways to fight off this dreaded strain.

Until then, I guess I will just have to keep hoping for a cure.

Denis House can be reached at

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