Excerpt from “Walt Loves the Bearcat”
The year was 1983. Madonna was not Like a Virgin yet, just on the Borderline. Prince was cruising in a Little Red Corvette, and had yet to baptize the world in his Purple Rain.
And the king of the day, without needing an official proclamation, was Michael Jackson, who was providing a Thriller of a reality shift in how we felt music, especially on that other fascinating new reality shift, MTV.
Politically, the country had agreed to let President Reagan do anything he wanted, as long as we saw him awake in a few meetings from time to time, and as long as he kept us feeling good about being strong Americans again after the international bitch-slapping the USA’s pride took during the previous administration.
There were whispers and jokes that some of the nation’s citizens were being neglected, or failing altogether to feel any of Reagan’s trickle-down economics, but the country was too busy getting high off of savings and loans and cocaine to really care.
As long as Grandfather Ronnie kept the Commies and evildoers at bay.
And in sports … professional athletes were starting to make “serious money,” as more and more jocks were crossing over to careers and endeavors the guys of the leather helmet days could only dream of.
Years before, shooting stars like Joe Namath and Jim Brown had paved the way for athletes marketing themselves as entities to be parlayed into ventures as diverse as pantyhose commercials and black cowboy movies.
The 80s, in its toddler stage, was beginning to see an even greater sea change, as more and more athletes were crossing over to careers and endeavors Joe Namath and Jim Brown could only dream of.
Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were building an East Coast/West Coast rivalry that would save the NBA, and create global superstars able to sell and be anything to anybody anywhere in the world as we knew it.
The NFL was abuzz with talk of brand new stadiums to replace barely old stadiums in order to take advantage of the nascent concept of luxury boxes, club seats and personal seat licenses.
And television, led by the sometimes amateurish Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, was putting more TV cameras on more sporting events than ever before.
As a result, college and pro athletes in all sports dreamed dreamier dreams. Football players started asking for big salaries. Basketball players dreamed of living even larger, demanding bigger salaries.
And thanks to a black athlete named Curt Flood–who dared to dream the biggest–baseball players had been emancipated altogether.
By 1983, some professional athletes were earning over a cool and dreamy one million dollars.
Life was on the move in every single way possible.
—from Walt Loves the Bearcat
by Randy Boyd
A Lambda Literary Award Finalist for Best Romance
“Warm-spirited … resonates with soulful queries into the nature of love and life.” Bay Area Reporter