Thursday, October 15, 2009

Off The Beaten Path A Bit is running a series of columns about offbeat places that're hosting preseason games. One of them being my own hometown, Grand Rapids, Michigan. I was up there this weekend, visiting family (couldn't stay long enough to catch the game, dammit).

Everybody's struggling, these days. In the Midwest, and in Michigan particularly, the economy's been in depression mode for almost as long as I've been alive. Grand Rapids is holding on a little better than the Detroit metro region because what's left of the furniture industry is still viable and the Van Andel Institute is getting some serious backing -- the news came down just a little while ago that MSU is basing a major research study there.

As a whole, though, it's getting so that the only people left in the region are those who can't or won't leave -- and the won't contingent is shrinking. A friend of mine is a Detroiter down to his fingernails, and even he's packed up for an extended leave of absence.

Sports are a luxury, except when they're not. Sport can make life, even for one day, worthwhile. For one day, it does not suck that you are a part of that time and place. And that matters. Here's hoping the Pistons' new owners recognize that, and are both clever and lucky.

Even with clever and lucky, I think, one by one, the major franchises are going to find a way to leave. Check back in 2020 and see who's left, in a city that was once beautiful and alive. The Paris of the Midwest.

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