Friday, November 26, 2004


Headgear for soccer players?

No wonder we are surrending civil liberties for "perceived" security to an administration that has demonstrated an uncanny ability to successfully market fear.

As for the soccer headgear, it appears a "sincere" and "well meaning" individual relying on personal experience and anecdotal evidence is determined to make the world safer for others in spite of the fact no statistically proven epidemic exists. Thus another lesson in the national curriculum of paranoia first, litigation second school of making life risk free.

I can only imagine settlers heading west being met by Buck Nader of the 'Westward Expansion Safety Team'.

"Hey, are these Conestoga's equipped with seat-belts? How about infant seats? Whoa, there partner. If little Jimmy is gonna ride that pony he's got to have a helmut!"

"What's a helmut, Buck?"

"I'm not sure, Jonas, but the child has to have one before I let you go."

So what's next to scare the will to live from children? Helmuts for chess? (see "A Mighty Wind")
Respirators for art class? Full body armor for high school?

Sunday, November 21, 2004


Desperate attempts at entertainment are never so desperate as when one is bedridden over four day. Case in point, Saturday I succumbed to the temptation of sports/talk radio – a format complete with all the erudition and critical thinking found in news/talk radio but with an audience known in the common vernacular as “fans”, short for “fanatic”. As you might guess, this is a lethal combination of the dumb and deranged, not unlike election-day in various red states.

Despite a full day of college football to cover, the principle story and discussion had to do with the previous evening's free-for-all involving the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons. Leading the home court Detroit Pistons by 14 points and little more than a minute on the clock, a Pacer fouled a Piston headed to the basket. As is the custom in the National Basketball Association, the Piston took exception to getting clobbered so late in a game that was for all intents and purposes, a Pacer win. The Piston pushed his fouler in the chest and started a mild ruckus, players came off their benches invoking their constitutional right to “street cred” and the made for marketing bluster and strutting today’s athletes have perfected.

The situation appeared to have settled down when a Detroit fan hit the shit button on his behavior monitor, tossing a full and apparently foamy beverage toward the Pacer noted above, scoring a direct bulls-eye between the ‘a’ and ‘c’ on his uniform. The recipient of the free brew flew into the stands after his attacker and all hell broke loose from there. Punches were thrown, fans with less sense than the money shelled out for their courtside seats decided to test their machismo against men standing 6’10’ and weighing 250lbs. What they got for their efforts was a season ticket’s worth of roundhouse rights and lefts to their thick skulls; come on, what’s a mere autograph when you can show your buddies the knuckle tattoo you got from an NBA star?

The media’s inevitable hand wringing, attempts to affix responsibility and pretentious “concern for the game” was on full throttle, Saturday. Listening to ESPN radio that evening, you’d have thought a cloister of nuns had started a street brawl with the Salvation Army. Shock, disgust and appalling were terms repeated like mantras (perhaps the result of self limited vocabularies designed to account for the elementary comprehension of the listening audience.) Give me a break; how many times do you think ESPN television has shown the episode since Friday? 25? 50? 100? How many promotional teasers for “Sports Center’ have led with “Basket-Brawl” and with a short clip of the festivities? The NBA has been promoting a " thugish, gangsta" image for years. And why? Because it sells, drives ratings and produces better revenue numbers than anything else Disney has going for it with the possible exception of “Desperate Housewives”.

So, I’m hardly surprised there has been no discussion about the most obvious and logical explanation for what happened in Detroit: The responsibility for this Don King/WWE production lies with the NHL. That’s right; it’s all the fault of the National Hockey League and its failure to produce a 2004-2005 season.

With its current player lockout, the NHL has failed in its moral and civic duty to provide Detroit fans with the violent outlet they’ve come to depend on every fall, winter and spring. What transpired Friday was the direct result of ‘hockey withdrawal traumatic disorder’, a condition that afflicts mental defectives from “Hockey-Town, USA, (aka, Detroit) when denied their NHL hockey fix for a release from the frustration that is their sorry ass lives. Minimal civility in Detroit’s sports fans depends on the annual 6 month season of hip checks, cross checks, slashing, high sticking and 10 minute majors for fighting; not to mention, hooking, boarding, roughing, charging and too many goons on the ice. Denied access to full scale mayhem and sanctioned bloodletting, Detroit’s fans were bound to lose it.

Chances are Detroit fans will lose it again if labor negations in the NHL remain frozen. Living in Detroit exacts a price; without a real football team, baseball franchise or anything resembling culture, the loss of two or three light-heavy weight bouts on skates every week is more than the Detroit ‘fan’ can be expected to manage.

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