Sunday, December 30, 2012

Best of 2012 - Sports and Shots

No, I think what really stings is that I saw an entire special teams' worth of punks in red uniforms do the cockiest team dance I've ever seen on the football field over and over, beginning well before they had the game in the bag. Before halftime, even. And karma was not a bitch. The dirty showboats got no comeuppance of any kind. And I learned once again that the good guys don't always win.

“Oh, yes, Lord! Thank you. I won’t let you down.”

“Please don’t. I’m tired of people seeing your 316-yard playoff game as a sign from Me. If they’re going to read something into your stats that isn’t there, I at least want those stats to be high.”

In retrospect, not the best forecast
American history is littered with leaders who turned their domains into autocracies. J. Edgar Hoover. Joe Arpaio. George W. Bush. Vince McMahon. Polarizing figures praised by advocates for “getting things done,” and reviled by critics for quashing dissent. Greedy people interested in being feared authority figures above all else, even as they pay marginal lip service to our best interests. Add Goodell to those ranks.

The New Orleans Bowl was indeed sweet once again.
Lately I've been wondering if people won't be satisfied until everyone in pro sports is mute off the field and solemn on it. While we're at it, let's remove names and even numbers from jerseys; after all, these are team sports. Let's continue to pretend that pro sports is just about the game and that colorful characters are not part of the draw. Let's continue to get deeply outraged by absolutely every statement that anyone makes, and keep up that outrage for all time. Let's ban everyone who crosses any lines with anyone, ever. Let's eliminate all the controversy and individualism from pro sports and bring them back to the golden age when everyone knew their place. (Does Doc Brown have a button in the DeLorean for "never"?)

Interactive teevee!
The Saints have been cheating for as long as they’ve existed. And they've hardly ever had anything to show for it. Here’s a comprehensive look back at the franchise’s futile cheating over the years.

100-meter rash
Synchronized steroids
Mounting the pommel whore
Perpendicular bars
Polo Ralph Lauren

Saints rant (9/17)
I don’t say “I love you boys, no matter what,” because I would hope that’s implied. I don’t waste my time on lost causes. I think they can do better and if they can’t, they’ll regroup until that time comes back around again.

We recognize that some decisions may be difficult to accept in the passion of the moment (or in the non-passion of thinking about them for an extended period of time), but my most important responsibility is to improve the game for this generation and the next (in the sense that the Times-Picayune is improving itself by cutting back on everything).

NFL history, baby!


I have a hard time getting behind this, and not because I’m some nanny-stater. It’s just hard to imagine this version of America being anyplace I’d want to be, much less love. What kind of dystopia would we live in if everyone was armed to the teeth, terrified of each other and willing to let our infrastructure rot rather than admit the government is a worthwhile expense?

I’m tired of us treating these like isolated incidents. Have you noticed that? The first thing we always assume in times like this is that the shooter has connections to terrorism. And when we think that’s the case, we’ll apply every enforcement muscle we have to topple this conspiracy of death! After all, America is the land of the free — and we aren’t about to let sociopaths destroy our domestically peaceful way of life. And if it takes trading in a few of our civil liberties to preserve it, well, can’t be too careful.

Of course, when it turns out the gunman is some lone local nut job, we ease off, don’t we? Easy now. Let’s not get all crazy about gun control.

“What value can come from glorifying the shooter?”

“You mean reporting on him? Well, that’s what newspeople do. It informs us about who the suspect is, how he did it and perhaps provides some insight as to why.”

“That just leads to copycat crimes by people wanting to be famous.”

“Look, if people are willing to be famous for that reason, they have much bigger problems.”

This past week, a friend of mine from middle and high school was arrested for allegedly assaulting his father with a weapon. The attack came as a shock to myself and my classmates, as did the news that he’d had 13 prior arrests. We all knew him as a smart, quiet and friendly guy. A universally liked gifted student who gave zero indication that he’d turn out to be such a troubled adult. It’s still hard for me to absorb even as I type this.

Fortunately, his dad lived. He suffered cuts to his hands, arms and face, but he was well enough to talk to sheriff’s deputies.

That’s because his son’s weapon of choice was a samurai sword.

As tempting as it is to want to remake the media in a more emotionally soft image, it cannot and should not be done. Journalists are not the bad guys, and bad guys don't deserve obscurity just because they're unpleasant. Skewing toward silence won't make the media better and it won't make tragedies any less tragic. But knowing all the facts just might teach us something that makes the country better going forward.

None of this regulation has led anyone to believe that we can't fly, drive, ride, buy Mucinex or own items that could become weapons (or that just are weapons). And most sensible people will say that gun control hasn't made it impossible to own a gun.

For those of you unfamiliar with this feature, Esquire's Dubious Achievements issue highlighted all of the craziest, dumbest and most bizarre public moments of the past year. And 13 years ago, a proposal to arm teachers merited a choice entry on that list. It was crazy, dumb and bizarre, and the near-exclusive province of the nation's most famous gun nut.

So much has changed since 1999. So much. And yet, it doesn't really seem like that long ago.

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