Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Best of 2014 — Getting Gamed

Best blogging about sports, of which there surprisingly wasn't much from me this year. It mostly took the form of 14 Saints record predictions (and one final joke pick), during which I twice picked the Saints to finish 7-9. It's like I had a crystal ball, but different.

At least the Ragin' Cajuns got to the New Orleans Bowl, again. And won the game, again. This year, they beat the Nevada Wolf Pack 16-3, which was awkward for me in all the best ways.

Abuse is complex. It's not defined exclusively by 100 percent satanic behavior by the aggressor and 100 percent cowering by the victim. The bullied often fight back, and even more often attempt to establish equilibrium. The aggressor also has moments of humanity. I'm not surprised to hear that Martin and Incognito occasionally connected as confidantes, any more than I am to see people in an abusive relationship getting along at times.

College athletics is a unique creature. In a nation that defines itself by its capitalist work ethic, we not only expect athletes to compete for free, but we also lionize that free labor. Unpaid internships are a hot-button issue, but athletes are usually excluded from that conversation. They shouldn’t be, no matter how much love for the game they have.

I’m all about the love of the game. But that love doesn’t exempt people from needing to eat and otherwise meet their basic needs. That’s what needs to be addressed.

Michael Sam is not Bizarro Tim Tebow. Yes, people make fun of Tebow as they tend to do with public figures who give them fodder, but that isn’t persecution. Tebow is an insufferably sanctimonious Christian in America, where it’s socially acceptable to be an insufferably sanctimonious Christian. In 1998, Matthew Shepard was killed for being gay. Tebow would have been drafted that year. So spare me the comparisons.

Statistically speaking (and from my own recollections), Brooks generally played well in his games. He was far from perfect and never won any titles, but this is also true of many quarterbacks who aren't nearly as polarizing. And it isn't his fault that he was quickly overshadowed by possibly the greatest man ever to wear a Saints uniform.

And that didn't change against Nevada.
“No. And even if I did, it doesn’t matter, because Saints, Angels and Padres are not blatantly offensive names. They’re simply words that can be used in a religious context, and — this is key — still are used by polite society today. When was the last time you heard anyone say ‘redskin?’”

“The other night at a dinner party. We had red skin potatoes, and someone joked that they now had to be called indigenous-American potatoes. We all laughed so hard that someone had do the Heimlich on Tanner.”

The return of small-money ball (9/30)
One of my main issues with professional baseball is its lack of parity. The NFL's revenue-sharing program ensures that every team has a shot every year — or, at the very least, that a few deep-pocket teams don't always have a built-in advantage over smaller-market teams. Major League Baseball, on the other hand, has widespread income inequality which, to paraphrase Bob Costas, means only a few teams are truly competitive and the rest are just selling ballpark ambience. 

Religion becomes a problem when it narrows thinking. When it convinces people that the world is a separate, unimportant entity, whose people are out to harm and condemn the true believers. When it convinces people that they are the chosen ones and that no one else matters. When it convinces fanatics already inclined toward control, murder and destruction that such actions are justified. And, most commonly, when it short-circuits the human capacity for introspection.

Watson, on the other hand, is the kind of Christian who makes atheists like Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins look insufferably obnoxious.



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