If it pumps you up, I won’t judge it

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I’ve told this tale before. In honor of the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, it’s worth re-telling.
I remember the first time I covered a sporting event in Valencia County. I moved to New Mexico in the summer of 2001, so my first trip down here was to cover a Friday night football game at Los Lunas High’s Willie Chavez Field.
As traffic was slowly making its way out of the parking lot, I had my windows rolled down, flipped stations on the radio, and stumbled across one of my favorite songs — Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again.” Don’t act like you don’t know the song — even if you didn’t see the video on MTV, you know it from years of exposure to classic rock.
As the song approaches its midpoint, the vocals get a little louder, and you have to bang the steering wheel a little harder (steering wheel drum set natural law). I knew that just before the guitar solo, there’s a high-pitched scream. I knew many people had their windows rolled down — and I didn’t care.
As I finished mimicking David Coverdale’s patented scream, I noticed all five orange-and-blue-clad girls in the car next to me were staring. Suddenly, they all looked at each other, and started laughing hysterically, as if they’d never heard or seen anything quite so ludicrous.
Whitesnake created music that gets me into a sports mode. Whether I’m about to cover a game or going for a run alone, the band’s music energizes me and pumps me up.
There are some awfully strange songs out there, and many are churning through headphones and speakers as today’s youth warm up for competition. Since I don’t want anyone to judge my 80s rock, simply because they don’t like it or respect it, I hereby commit to not judging anyone’s choice for what brings them to the precipice of adrenaline and intensity.
I don’t know if the five girls who laughed at me in 2001 had hate in their hearts, and really detest my music. I kind of doubt it; it was simply a strange and humorous moment for them. But I hope they also had fun with whatever music their peers liked or disliked, and didn’t feel the need to shark-attack whatever rap or hard rock athletes use to prep themselves.
For many years, I have felt that listening to destructive lyrics and angry music does not really release negative emotions — it breeds them. I recently refined the thought to focus on extremely young listeners, such as elementary-school age, as teenagers have already formed most of their ideas about the world.
So if Linkin Park or Five Finger Death Punch or Lil’ Wayne or Eminem are what pumps up an athlete, so be it. If teenagers can make the distinction between living the life described in fictitious songs, I’m not going to criticize it — whether it’s on someone’s personal music player or boomed across a field on a P.A. system.
I’m also not going to criticize the marching band’s selections — although I have always tried to be careful about that, knowing how many years of hard work are put into learning an instrument. While I still wish there were more ways to adjust music on the fly, to match the spirit and mood of an ongoing game, I appreciate marching bands more than I used to. It warms my heart to hear the 1980s live on in the form of “Danger Zone,” “Any Way You Want It” and “You Give Love a Bad Name.”
But if the band or the P.A. launches songs I don’t know or don’t like, I’m not going to be the shark to attack it. If these are the songs that help Xavier Armijo burst through a hole for Belen High, help Caleb Crum launch a game-winning, 47-yard field goal for the Valencia Jaguars or aid Chris Wisneski in launching a Los Lunas touchdown pass, then rock on.
Far be it from me to bite into what motivates an athlete. After all, I don’t want anyone sinking their teeth into my favorite Bulletboys song.


-- Email the author at jbrooks@news-bulletin.com.