Category Archives: Sports

A Couple Things…

Big news in sports this week.  Evidently, the NFL is going to start flagging players for using racial slurs on the field, to the tune of a 15 yard penalty, as part of the rules against abusive language.  This seems to have come as a result of publicity about bullying in the Miama Dolphins’ locker room.  Here’s the thing, or things:

Language is Ever Changing

A while back, I had a post in which I argued that calling an oppressive system a “Patriarchy,” when it’s not one in any discernible way, creates an anti-male bias in one’s head, because it connect the idea of maleness (“Pater” is “Father” in Latin) with a nameless, faceless, oppressive enemy, who is the source of all one’s problems.  This happens much in the same way the word “gay” being used to describe unpleasant things creates an anti-gay bias, and calling women as a whole “bitches” makes one subconsciously mistreat women.

That said, “gay” once meant only “happy.”  “Bitch” only referred to female dogs, and calling a human one would be so contextually inconsistent as to be tantamount to gibberish.  “Patriarchy” was once used to describe genuinely patriarchal governmental systems, as opposed to being a catch-term to distract people from being oppressed by an Oligarchy.

The same goes for racial slurs.  Everyone knows the tired trope of “if black people can call each other ‘nigger’, why can’t everyone else use the word?”  Right?  It gets used all the time, and the response is often that black people use it to take the power from the word, and thereby make it less dehumanizing overall, giving the word less oppressive power over them.  And, to be honest, that actually makes some form of sense to me.  My first choice would be that anyone use whatever words they want, and my second choice would be that no one use “nigger” except to reference the term itself (more on that later), but as third choices go, I’m fine with the “black people can say it and white people can’t” argument.

But the fact is that the usage of that one word has changed dramatically over the last few decades, and will continue to do so.  Eventually, it will carry none of the weight it did in the antebellum south, or during the 1960’s, or even today.  Words change, and outlawing them will not change that.  Frankly, if people can’t say one thing, they’ll find a way to say it without saying it anyway.  Because…

Context is Everything

I don’t use racial slurs.  I find them coarse and ignorant and I just have no use for them.  Well, almost.  You see, Louis CK has a point when he says that saying “N-Word” is the same as saying “Nigger.”

In both cases, the listener knows what word or idea you’re referring to, so they are effectively the same.  They’re synonyms.

There’s really no difference between saying “Bob called Joe a nigger,” and “Bob called Joe the N-word.”  If you’re offended by the usage in that context, you’re over-sensitive and you need a better understanding of how language works.

That said, it is always wise to avoid calling anyone by derogatory terms (unless involved in some kind of S&M degradation role-play, in which case, you should know where your lines are).  But it should apply across the board.

What I’m getting at is that the context of when you use a word has a lot to do with whether or not it’s offensive.  And more importantly, the things you say have meaning not because of the arrangement of consonant and vowel sounds, but because of the meaning heaped on them in the context of when the words are being said.

I mean, come on.  It wasn’t called “sex in the daytime,” but who doesn’t know what “Afternoon Delight” was about?  But the most important thing is this…

The NFL Has ABSOLUTELY ZERO Room to Even Talk About Racism

Until they force Daniel Snyder to change the name of the fucking Washington Redskins, I don’t want to hear anyone in the NFL front office say a God damned thing about players using racial slurs.  Fuck you people.  Take the beam out of your own eyes, douchebags, before giving anyone shit about the speck in their own.  The hypocrisy here is pungent enough that the normal bullshit about supposedly supporting “player safety” is white lilac and fresh linen by comparison.

Sometimes, I just don’t fucking understand people…

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Defense Wins Championships

Especially when the other team flat gives the game away, gift-wrapped and scented with perfume, in the first quarter.

Honestly, as a lifelong Broncos fan, I have seen some pretty ugly Superbowl losses.  I watched Phil Simms put up an 88% completion rate in 1987.  I saw Doug Williams and the Redskins score 35 points in one quarter in 1988.  I saw Joe Montana’s 49’ers crush my home team 55-10 in 1990, still the record for the biggest blowout in Superbowl history.

But those Broncos teams were in the championship due solely to last-minute heroics by (still) the greatest quarterback to ever don the blue and orange.  In truth, as a team, they had no business being there in the first place, and were only in those games due to the very best of luck.

This is different.  This was the most prolific offense in history.  This was a defense that, while not at the top of the league, was gelling and playing great at exactly the right time.  This was a super-talented, high-flying, unbelievably great football team.

And they gave up.

They gave up before the game started.  Obviously, before they even finished the national anthem.

The Seahawks came prepared to play.  The Broncos, well, they showed how prepared they were on the very first offensive snap.  A play that scored Seattle’s first points because, for some reason, it wasn’t important to them to get the fucking snap count right.

And it was all down hill from there.

I should have known.  I talk endlessly with friends about the importance of solid, smashmouth football.  Of good defense.  Of running the ball.  Of attitude and swagger.  That football, when it comes down to it, is a game of who’s tougher, not faster or prettier or has more finesse.

The Seahawks had it, the Broncos didn’t.  And no one but the Broncos players and coaching staff are to blame.

Way to go, guys, you embarrassed your loyal fans in the worst way possible, on the biggest stage possible.  I’ll be lucky if I can ever get my kids to take on my fandom now.

At the beginning of the season, I picked the Seahawks to win it all (though I figured they’d be beating New England, to be honest).

Sometimes, I hate being right.

Bill Belichick says Wes Welker deliberately took out Aqib Talib

Nothing warms my heart like sour grapes from Bill Belicheat. Because we all know that when you want someone to intentionally injure a guy, you send the smallest player on the field after him, right?

For The Win

In his postgame press conference on Sunday, Bill Belichick was his usual gruff self. The New England Patriots coach gave short answers to good questions, shorter answers to silly ones and didn’t talk much about the injury to his best cornerback, Aqib Talib, other than to say it was a “key” loss and that he’d have to review the game film before speaking more about it.

In the 13 hours since then, Belichick watched the tape and in a Monday morning press conference back in New England, Belichick said he believes Talib’s injury was because of a dirty pick by Wes Welker, the former Patriots wide receiver who signed with the Broncos last year. His statements are as barbed as any you’ll hear from an NFL coach calling out another player.

“One of the worst plays I’ve seen. It was a deliberate play by the receiver to take out Aqib…

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Superbowl Bound!

In case you didn’t know, I am a HUGE Broncos fan, and I can’t even begin to tell you how stoked I am to see the end of the second longest Superbowl drought in franchise history.  Plus, it’s pretty awesome to be going up against the Seahawks, who I grew up with as a division rival in the AFC west.  I imagine there will be more to come on the upcoming game, so keep an eye out.

And to Nick, my buddy in Seattle:  It’s on, brother.

GO BRONCOS!!!

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Basket Balls

Not that he really needs it from me, but I am compelled to give Washington Wizards Jason Collins serious fucking props today.  It takes guts to come out, for just about anyone, I’m certain.  But anyone who’s ever been in a locker room knows, it takes some 765lb brass cojones to come out as a professional athlete.

Good on you, Jason.  Here’s hoping your example of strength gives people everywhere, regardless of sexual orientation or anything else, inspiration and the courage to be who they are, and never allow anyone to degrade or shame them for it.

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LeBron, Sports Rage, & the Reason We Care

Last Thursday night, an estimated 8.4 million people watched with bated breath as LeBron James announced that he would be leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to sign with the Miami Heat.  Then they got mad.  In Cleveland in particular, people began burning LeBron James jerseys and chanting their displeasure in massive crowds, vilifying the man upon whom they had placed all their hopes of winning an NBA title.  For long-suffering Cleveland sports fans, this was a betrayal of the highest caliber, and Dan Gilbert, the owner of the Cavaliers franchise even wrote a scathing open letter in which he blasted what he called a “shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own.”  The reaction to all this certainly has been enough to shock even the most ardent of sports fans.

But it shouldn’t.  We live in a world where soccer players who make mistakes get literally murdered by their fans (see here and here).  Where angry little league baseball coaches punch their nine-year old players in the face for getting ejected over a loss of temper.  Where people are literally willing to poison opposing teams’ players, all in the name of competitive sports.  There’s no question; we take our sports way too seriously.  But why?

Let me begin to answer that with a little anecdote from my youth.  The year was 1979.  A mere two years before that, the Dallas Cowboys had defeated my hometown Denver Broncos in Superbowl XII.  I wasn’t even born yet.  On that fateful Sunday in August of 1979, the Broncos faced the Cowboys again, in a meaningless preseason game.  I still wasn’t born yet.  Why?  My mother refused to tell anyone she was in labor until the game ended, because she hated the Cowboys so much.  Seven years and about five months later, those same Broncos faced the New York Football Giants in Superbowl XXI.  My family painted our 1973 Jeep Wagoneer in Broncos Blue and Orange, with each of our favorite players’ numbers written over our windows (mine was #77, the albino rhino himself, Karl Mecklenburg).  After my beloved Broncos lost to a singularly amazing performance that ensured Phil Simms’ place in Canton, I cried for two full days.  There were several such occasions where I was forced to endure similar pain and heartbreak, but none ever hurt quite as much as that game.  Finally, by 1997, when I was eighteen years old, I got my wish.  In one of the objectively best Superbowls ever played, my beloved Broncos finally broke through and bested the Green Bay Packers in Superbowl XXXII.  My entire family was racked with sobs of relief, for the weight had, at long last, been lifted from our shoulders.  We were champions.  Of course, we weren’t, the Denver Broncos were, but that didn’t matter to us.  We felt like winners.

Skip ahead to 2009.  On my second marriage, with two kids, having endured eight separate layoffs, and in the second painful year of being woefully underemployed with no potential end in sight.  I got way too into fantasy football. Week after week I would send out another sixty to eighty resumes to potential employers, fill out another hundred or so job applications.  I would hear back from one or two, who would tell me that I was either too inexperienced for the job (while having the qualifications), or overly qualified and would therefore be overly expensive to hire.  My wife would complain that I wasn’t bringing in enough income (I wasn’t, but there was nothing I could do about it).  My kids would complain that they didn’t want to have macaroni and cheese again tonight.  Then Sunday would come around, and I would have nothing left to hope for but a little bit of good luck from my fantasy football team.  At least with that, I could feel like a winner.  But it didn’t happen.  Week after week I would outscore everyone in my league, except the person I was playing.  Frank Gore’s two eighty yard touchdown runs against the Seahawks?  My opponent that week had him on their team.  It would be the straw that broke the camel’s back, every week.  My family hated Sunday, because I was simply too angry at what appeared to be a conspiracy to ruin my life to enjoy any time with them.  The other players in my league eventually got tired of my constant griping about how, despite being on the top of the power rankings the entire year, I had a losing record.  No one wanted to play with me anymore, only adding to the sense of dejection and inefficacy.  Then finally I got a great new job, and all those other problems went away.  I no longer care if the Broncos win the Superbowl.  I enjoy basketball, and the Nuggets are my favorite team, but I don’t get bent out of shape over their losses like I used to.  It’s amazing how, with a little economic success coming my way, I no longer have to place my hopes in my local sports franchise to feel like I have some meaning in the world.

It’s not new.  Ancient Rome held gladiatorial contests for the same reason.  Every time the masses got a little too unruly, due to their continual abuse and poverty, the Emperor would appease them with bread and circuses to calm the mob and make them feel like things were okay.  If people weren’t facing the obvious hopelessness of a nearly 20% unemployment rate and an economy that seems designed more to benefit executives who outsource to China over we the people of the United States, there would be a lot less real concern about things like LeBron’s supposed “betrayal.”  People would still care about sports, of course.  I still enjoy sports and root for my home team whenever they play, regardless of the sport.  But they would be much less inclined to take out their feelings of frustration and rage in a sports-related fashion.  Instead of a little league coach punching his players in the face, he might punch UnitedHealth CEO Stephen J. Hemsley, or his ilk, who are the real reason we have such feelings in the first place.  As much as people need to focus on things like joblessness and the ensuing hopelessness, and solving those problems, they will continue to be tricked into directing their anger at people like LeBron James.  After all, Scott Norwood still can’t safely show his face in Buffalo, NY.

Is It News? You Make the Call

In the past week or so, three major events have occurred which have dominated the news media like Drew Brees recently dominated the Pats on Monday Night Football.  On the 25th of November, Michaele and Tareq Salahi managed to crash the first state dinner host by the Obama administration (eat your hearts out, Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn), and got the secret service into heaps of trouble.  Then, golf god Tiger Woods got caught cheating on his wife and, in the ensuing attempt at fleeing what was doubtless an epic fight, crashed his car into a tree.  Finally, last Tuesday, the President announced that on the heels of winning a Nobel Peace Prize, he is planning to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, ostensibly to maintain order while the new Afghan government is stabilized.  Truly, though, only one of these stories is real news.  Can you guess which one?  Let’s take a look at these stories and decide…

Tiger’s Wild Ride

The world’s richest and most famous athlete (a term I use loosely, he’s a golfer after all), in the prime of his life, with beautiful women throwing themselves at him literally everywhere he goes, had an affair.  Really?  I’m shocked beyond words, I truly am.  How can a human being have a lapse of judgement like that?  And more than one?  Utterly intolerable.  Almost as bad as the cheating is the number of fights this story started in marriages across America when millions of men said “You know, it’s not cool to cheat, but I can see how temptation might get the better of him,” and immediately ducked to avoid a flying vase.  Really, the fact is that it most certainly is not okay to cheat on your spouse, and under no circumstances should we condone it.  We also shouldn’t be surprised when it happens with superstar athletes, though.  Since it’s totally not shocking and very much is expected, this story is not worthy of being called news.  But that one’s easy.  The other two are much harder to figure out.

Escalation in Afghanistan

Damn.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; I should have known better than to hope.  30,000?  Haven’t I seen this somewhere before?  Comparisons to VietNam have been batted about lately, but a better comparison might be with the U.S.S.R. and freakin’ Afghanistan! Or to any number of other large, even multinational empires like our that have tried and failed at stabilizing and governing that region of the planet.  Am I to believe that the President of the United States, after graduating from one of the world’s most prestigious ivy league colleges, has never opened a world history textbook?  No nation in written history has been able to successfully govern the area we now call Afghanistan.  What, we’re so much better than everyone else that we can do everything no one else ever could?  Seems awfully arrogant to me.  What’s worse is that the people making the decisions will suffer nothing more than a temporary job loss resulting from such egotism, while our nation’s fighting men and women will be forced to pay the ultimate price for someone else’s hubris.  Nothing doing, but that’s just wrong.  Sad thing is, I kind of expected exactly this sort of thing to happen, and so I don’t know if it’s news so much as a confirmation of what I always suspected would be the case.

Barbarians Crash the Gate

Think I’m wrong to call Michaele Salahi and her husband Tareq barbarians?  They’re “reality” TV people.  How much less civilized can you be without becoming wild animals, or even worse, hippies?  These idiots decided to attempt what is most certainly one of the dumbest, most dangerous stunts ever dreamed up by a shameless fame-seeking media whore.  After all, wouldn’t the secret service be well within the scope of their purpose were they to just shoot the Salahis on sight?  I mean, you can’t just have random, unknown people coming up to shake the President’s hand, especially when the man holds the record for the most death threats received by any President in our nation’s history.  The really interesting thing, though, is that now the leader of the free world is faced with the fact that even the peons in this country can get to him any time they want.  How will he respond to that realization?  Will Obama beef up security and refuse to talk to strangers, or will he feel comfortable that he is serving the public will enough to avoid an uglier trespassing incident?  One thing’s for certain; future guest lists will be much more comprehensive than they have been in the past.  But is this whole thing newsworthy?  If it isn’t, which of the other stories of the week is news?  Try the poll, give your two cents.