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updated: 4/14/2014 9:23 PM

Sound advice is always welcome

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Oh, if only veteran professional athletes would give this advice to emerging professional athletes:

"You're not winning a Nobel Prize for science. We're not that important. Treat it as a rather enjoyable farce … We put on costumes and pretend, which is very similar to what I was doing when I was 5."

Come to think of it, if only older sports commentators would give this advice to younger sports commentators:

"You're a bit part in a farce. You're not the star of some big tragedy. If you lose your sense of the absurd, you're likely to become miserable … Laugh it off."

Unfortunately, those words of wisdom, as quoted in USA Today on Monday, weren't expressed by anyone involved in sports.

Colin Firth, the Oscar-winning actor of "The King's Speech," dispensed them to Jeremy Irvine, his co-star in the upcoming "The Railway Man."

Yes, you might have noticed that I'm digressing today. Sorry to interrupt the gravity of sports, but this seems like a good time to ponder reality as the Blackhawks and Bulls prepare to embark on their respective postseasons.

Results will be treated with the seriousness of front-page news. The fate of the planet's spin will depend on the outcomes.

Power forwards in both basketball and hockey will be characterized like first responders are. Scorers will be portrayed as social workers doing God's work.

Not much sense of humor will come out of postgame news conferences. Nor will many remarks be accompanied by wry winks and knowing smiles indicating that the speaker gets it.

Everything will be as serious as the latest on the crisis in the Ukraine, the weekend killings just outside Kansas City and the lives lost on the mysteriously missing Maylasian airliner.

Every transition down the basketball court and every rush up the hockey ice will carry the significance of troop movements in Afghanistan.

No wonder athletes begin to believe that they're important and by extension those of us who analyze them begin to believe what we're doing is the stuff of war correspondents.

It's quite a cycle: We treat athletes as important, so athletes begin acting like they're important, so we treat them like they're even more important, so they act even more like they're more important, so we treat them more and more like they're more and more important …

Before you know it fantasy blurs into reality and Carmelo Anthony's net worth is hundreds of millions of dollars.

This is fine -- and perhaps necessary for games to serve as escapes from the worries of the world -- as long as we realize that sports aren't reality any more than feature-length cartoons are.

They just generate huge revenues that support huge salaries.

Not too long ago, athletes and entertainers agonized over their fame and fortune because they didn't feel worthy of them.

Now the norm is that too many athletes and entertainers believe they earned what they receive through hard work, as if dry cleaners and dockworkers don't sweat just as much for far less.

Actually, wouldn't it be nice if we all felt blessed for whatever we have and didn't take it to mean we're better than those who don't have as much?

Maybe Colin Firth's message hit home -- in my home anyway -- because it was published a day after Pharrell Williams was profiled on "CBS News Sunday Morning."

The great singer/songwriter/producer insisted on crediting others for his success rather than heaping it on himself.

A little more humility like that would be refreshing from costumed athletes and self-massaging commentators.

OK now, wake up, the sermon is over and it's time to go crazy over the NHL and NBA playoffs.

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