Tag Archives: Sport

NE Patriots are serial cheaters, so are their namesakes. The unfair advantage is an essential of Capitalism.

First the New England Patriots got caught spying on their adversaries, now they’ve been tweaking the air-pressure of their game balls to sneak a ballistic handling advantage. Rules be damned, Patriot quarterback Tom Brady prefers his ordnance two pounds psi shy, hollow-points –if you will– which are also against regulation. For how long have the Patriots been manipulating advantages? And how else? They weren’t satisfied with the home field advantage on Sunday. Maybe officials should bring protractors to investigate the Boston gridiron. A level playing field doesn’t likely suit the Patriots either.

OF COURSE it doesn’t. Who expects sportsmanship from “patriots?!” Patriotism is the antisocial insistance on your own cultural superiority. American exceptionalism is an endorsement of tactical superiority, covert war, disproportionate force, drones, extrajudicial assassination, death squads, snipers, collateral damage, and torture. Formal US policy is to FLAUNT international law. American materialism profits from insider trading, extortion, usury, and corporate hegemony uber alles! Why would our surrogate Sunday warriors pretend there is honor among thieves?

Of course America underinflates footballs to best our opponents. We also diligently deploy inspectors to ensure our intended defeatees can’t recallibrate theirs. Meanwhile our leaders dissemble when plausible deniability stretches thin.

Of course NFL officials are not discussing a Super Bowl disqualification for the recidivist Patriots. Instead they’re weighing minor penalties, no doubt manageable, if not tax deductible. If America’s best cheaters don’t advance to the Super Bowl, the outcome would be hypocritical. Go Team! America Fuck Yeah!

I’m kidding of course. Sack the quarterback, disqualify the Patriots, send whoever else to the Super Bowl, then march the entire US defense and offense departments to the Hague.

UPDATE 1/23:
While fans and media try to belittle the scandal (ie. “Deflate-gate” and “Ballghazi”), statisticians have noted a damning anomaly relating to the advantage gained from underinflated footballs. After the rules were changed to allow offensive teams to use their own footballs –Brady was among the quarterbacks lobbying for the change– New England’s ball handling superiority grew beyond the realm of probability.

Probably all teams know that well-inflated footballs fly further but underinflated balls are easier to grab. Maybe the purpose of making a personalized array of game balls available is so offensive teams can exploit alternate characteristics as needed. Maybe the NFL understood this when they granted the rule change. Maybe the Patriots just couldn’t pass up every opportunity to cheat, until the statistics made plain their greed. Whether by hubris or head-injury numbskulledness, Tom Brady and his receivers thought they coud break PT Barnum’s rule too.

The American Dream hinges on equality of opportunity and fair play, but of course Capitalism idealizes the unfair advantage.

Btw I abhor the theatre of corporate sports, but when it exposes the reek of America’s national character, I like to make sure to smell it.

Bystander video of Schumacher ski crash puts lie to “off-piste” connerie

When Formula One racer Michael Schumacher broke his crown on a French ski slope last week, Meribel resort spokesmen went into damage control mode by declaring the speed champion was skiing “off-piste”. That’s Anglo-French for off-the-trail or out-of-bounds. Initial reports mentioned the specific slope on which Schumacher crashed, but subsequent press releases amended the account to reassure tourists that this downhill interruptus occurred outside of the permitted area. Isn’t that always the official line of resort operators and their insurers –ski accidents result when patrons stray where they’re not allowed? This theme puzzles regular skiers who know the back country is usually thoroughly demarcated and sealed. It was no surprise then when a bystander video emerged which showed Schumacher’s accident happening exactly where originally stated, on the Grand Couloir (trans: Big Corridor) between Mauduit and La Biche. Thus we discover the disingenuous definition of “off-piste”. It means the piste’s edge! Be it trees, rocks or cliff, it’s the most probable thing with which a skier can collide: the border of a groomed slope. Saying Schumacher crashed off-piste is like saying his Ferrarir didn’t crash at a racetrack, but rather against the track’s wall; or like saying a person didn’t fall from a building but rather died on the sidewalk. Now we know how so many ski accident victims got past barriers, substantial enough to deter most reckless impulses: They didn’t, they crashed into them.

Super Bowl 2013 commemorates American warrior culture minus wounded vets

nfl--tv-nmt
TV NATION- Can Americans no longer embarrass themselves? This year’s pregame holiday extended to Super Bowl Eve with an un-ironic commemoration ceremony, an all-star gala tribute to football, acclaiming it a venerated touchstone of the American character, the public mob like drunken monks feasting the humanitarian contributions of the Spanish Inquisition. Football celebrates America’s cultural blood lust, a surrogate for our preemptive senseless war making, whose shared cartoon violence is expunged of its real antisocial inhumanity. Probably owing to this season’s pre pregame homophobia scandal, where collegiate casualty Manti Teo showed signs of early onset Mohammed Ali’s disease, fans learned about the concealed football side effect of compounded concussions, akin to IED survivors’ collateral brain damage. Next we’ll probably hear that footballers’ home lives spread PTSD. As football injuries become more difficult to hide from battle-weary audiences, fans will be calling for more Kevlar and then of course commensurate armor piercing anti-Kevlar. I already think football offensive lines look spectacularly under equipped without drones. Or would that position be pretended to play defense?

If you have to ask for whom the fat lady sings, it is not for Tahrir Square.

–And to really mix my malaprops, she sings for them that bought her. If there was one variable which got away from the underdogs of Egypt’s Jan25 Revolution, it was who would referee the endgame. While Hosni Mubarak’s stunning defiance Thursday night looked like a Hail Mary pass hoping to provoke the protesters to mayhem, as a defensive strategy he was moving the goalposts. Anticipating a capitulation, the Tahrir Square demonstrators made clear it was the entire regime which needed ousting, no Suleiman, no Emergency Law, an inviolate list of demands. Mubarak’s insulting buffoonery focused the great beast’s wrath like a rodeo clown. When the announcement came he was stepping down, who could not help but raise a cheer, drowning out the earlier precautions. Mubarak played Egypt like a fiddle, as he burned it, while the fat lady of state media called the game over.

It’s not over until the fat lady sings
So opera advises American football, in reality a game governed strictly by elapsed time. The expression describes the mutual sense that every competition has a natural denouement. Actually another false notion, as this feeling is not often shared by the side fallen behind at the final score.

I’ve convoluted ask not for whom the bell tolls– and if you have to ask how much it costs–, Hemingway and Bugatti I believe, to stress the obvious, that Wagnerian sopranos are kept in furs by the wealthiest of patrons. As epic as might be your struggle, unless you transcend the stage to torch the theater, the status quo raises and lowers the curtain. Without seizing the state media, if even that had been possible, and without staging a narrative to compete with Mubarak’s Greekest of tragic high dives, the Tahrir Square revolutionaries became mere players to please the king.

How could we have missed the grand theatricality of Mubarak’s televised last stands, lighting and makeup dialed to Bela Lugosi? Anyone who knows to dramatize a campfire tale by holding a flashlight under his chin also knows they don’t do that for their profile pic.

In all three of his televised responses to the Jan25 reformers, Mubarak could be paraphrased to have said “over my dead body.” It was a road map his adversaries probably should have heeded. Where is Mubarak now? He’s not gone, he hasn’t even left Egypt. We are informed Mubarak has stepped down by the same henchmen who told protesters “all your demands will be met,” then meeting none.

We learn now that Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Military is trying to clear Tahrir Square. It’s outlawing those who would cause chaos and disorder, and forbidding labor unions to assemble or strike. It’s refusing to end Egypt’s emergency law, or to release the unknown thousand detained during the protests. What of Suleiman and the regime’s other cronies? We have only Mubarak’s doppelganger in an army cap. Field Marshall “Happy” Tantawi, takes to the microphone with no other agenda it appears than to restore Egypt its accustomed sonorous normalcy. If Tibetan throat-singing has an antecedent we can wager now it was Pharaoh throat-talking.

Dance with the one who brought you
A mantra worth cursing out, when Americans wonder why their elected representatives answer only to their biggest campaign donors. So why would Egypt’s Jan25 upstarts have banked on winning the cooperation of the army? I almost said “their” army, but it’s bought and paid for by Mubarak, actually by the same interests who buy US politicians. Deciding not to challenge the army spared lives, but it’s left the military regime in place. Regime unchanged.

There’s a problem when you harness the protection of the military without knowing the intentions of its leaders. You can win a nonviolent revolution against the schoolyard bully if you’ve got the deterrence of “My Bodyguard,” but when the army does that on a national scale it’s called a “bloodless coup.” I’d be curious to know if nonviolence cultists rank bloodless coups among behaviors they condone.

Egypt’s April 6 Youth Movement, chief instigators of the Jan25 uprising, attribute much of their organizing skill to training with OTPOR, the famously successful Serbian youth rebellion which ousted a Balkan despot. OTPOR is now a “pro-Democracy” consultant group that tours the world to awaken nascent freedom-seeking insurgents aspiring to popular uprisings. OTPOR refutes insinuations rising from the disclosure that it has accepted CIA funding, but curiously OTPOR is more often by happenstance advising malcontents in Venezuela, Bolivia, Equador, Iran, the usual outspoken rivals to US hegemony. What are they doing in Egypt? Had Hosni Mubarak gone rogue and we didn’t know it?

When pan-Arabists think of events in Tunisia and Egypt igniting popular uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East, there’s a line to draw between the common dictators and those more hostile to the West, whose rule is autocratic by necessity of having to defend against CIA and Mossad activities designed to foment instability.

Whether against anti-US foes or pro, it might be safe to say that OTPOR talks a good game, without having yet had a victory. They too deposed a dictator, but not his regime. The problem with OTPOR’s advice has to do with the end game.

I sat in on an OTPOR seminar once. They make a yearly visit to Colorado College to lecture for the nonviolence program. At the conclusion of one lecture I witnessed a tremendously telling aside, which emerged during the Q&A, and definitely wasn’t in the nonviolence syllabus. I wonder if the A6YM got the memo.

This presenter, a veteran of the student uprising that deposed Slobodan Milosevic in 2000, contended that after this victory for Democracy, etc, etc, after the attention span of the media had moved on, the same Milosevic cronies who’d been driven to the shadows, assassinated the opposition leaders and crept right back to power. His lesson, a mere thesis, which I paraphrase to reflect his muted emphasis: we should maybe have taken it one step further and made sure to kill the fuckers.

A6YM is still gambling they can separate the lower ranks of the army from the brass. If Robert Fisk’s report that Egyptian tank commanders refused January 30 orders to make a Tiananmen Square out of Tahrir, there may still be hope in such a strategy. But it certainly won’t work if no one will announce that it has worked. If a tyrant falls in the forest and no one hears, his rule doesn’t fall. The funeral cortege of Genghis Khan killed everyone in its path to keep word of his death from spreading across the empire until his successor could consolidate power. If you’re not going to push him off the cliff literally, perhaps Slavoj Zizek is right to say you’ve got to create a Tom and Jerry moment where despots like Mubarak see that there is no longer any foundation beneath him, where visualizing his own demise brings it upon himself. But can that be done without having director’s cut over the narrative?

What kind of farce are we perpetuating to pretend that Hosni Mubarak must be granted a dignified exit? What dignity commanded firing on unarmed protesters? Are we to pretend men who torture to retain their power can be cajoled to release it?

Instead, the Egyptian rebels find themselves with no ground beneath their feet, their “victorious revolution” now a meme being used to rally dissenters against America’s chief adversary Iran.

O, Give me a home, where the Buffalo roam

…and I’ll show you a house that’s not clean
But let’s skip to the main issue… Non-pet animals being used as mascots. Now, I had seen on the commercials last year that the CSU football team uses a live Bison as a mascot. Admittedly it’s a younger calf, and held by two sturdy ropes attached to two sturdy cowboy-looking types. But seriously, have any thoughts been given to what kind of liability would be incurred if that small(er) TeTonka were to bust loose and, as wild beasts typically do when faced with huge numbers of screaming humans, panic? Jump into the stands maybe. Maybe turn on her suddenly Former handlers or the football team that’s chasing behind her onto the field…
I don’t spend a great deal of time studying buffalo, just that their real name is bison or in Lakota “Tonka” and maybe one of our Sioux friends can correct me and I’ll cheerfully accept, I think the “te” part refers to the male. I did learn from observing them day after endlessly BORING day that they on most occasions don’t do a damn thing but eat, shit and move on, repeat as necessary. They’re even worse than watching cattle. Watching Grass Grow. I went to Job Corps way back in the 70s. Was at a J.C. Civilian Conservation Center called Treasure Lake. The center wasn’t within a day’s walking distance of the lake. I was there 6 months and never saw the lake.

Somewhere in between Lawton, Ft Sill, Altus, Altus AFB and Indiahoma, OK.on the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. I chose to go to that center over three others, because of the Bison. The brochure said “The Worlds Largest Surviving Herd of American Bison!” and I, being just turned 16, wanted to see the buffalo. First month I was there they didn’t show up. Then I saw them. Lots of them. About 10 or 15 thousand of them. The herd is larger now, I’m sure.

In the olden days there were millions of them. Then, somebody found out their weakness. Probably “Buffalo” Bill Cody. An extermination campaign was launched, kill off the food supply and starve the Plains Indians into surrender. They have this bad habit, you might ask “How bad was it?” and I might just answer “incredibly stupid”. It worked when the only hunters were the wolves, humans armed with spears instead of repeating rifles and grizzly bears (more on grizzlies later)

The herd would be divided into smaller and smaller herds and the leader of each was not a Bull, but a cow. If any threat appears, the hunter usually would go after one of the smaller and dumber animals. When we’re talking Buffalo, though, “dumber” is a relative term.

The lead cow would notice that one or more of the others was being attacked and take measures to correct it. Run or run somebody through with her horns, either one. The other cows would take their cue from the Leader. If the LEADER was the first one killed, then the next one in line would take over. But without the Leader, the new leader wouldn’t notice. “Oh, my, Bessie just got her head shot off… oh well, didn’t happen to me”. and go back to eating. This drove their population to a couple hundred by the end of the 19th century.

The herd at Wichita Mountains is called the “republican” herd. No lie. Plenty of bullshit but no lying about that. I use that to explain the RepubliKlan attitude that if the bad times don’t happen to them personally, then they just don’t exist in their Idyllic personal Fantasia.

Before that experience with the Big Shaggies, I was in El Paso, and the sick joke they call a “zoo” at Washington Park had just purchased a young calf, it was 1976 so they named him “Bison Tennial”. Yes, they are that clever. So I’m not exactly a connoisseur of Buffalo. Eating or even preparing a bison to be eaten is a team sport. So I never got into that aspect.

But, I DO know that these suckas ain’t pets. People often mistake them for pets. Give plenty of business to Emergency Rooms and Ambulance teams.

Even some PETS aren’t really good as pets. The first deadliest animal in the world is the common honey bee. Lions and tigers and bears, oh My! and even Crocodiles fall behind the Lovely and often-mistaken-for-cute Hippopotamus. Again, not pets. Domestic Dogs are somewhere between bees and hippos.

Given that even our Pets, when mismanaged or just accidentally crossed up, are potentially deadly, why use WILD animals as mascots?

Any animal much larger than a Bunny Rabbit will roll a couple or more men up into one collective arse and proceed to beat that arse rosy red.

We’re not very strong, pound for pound, compared to other animals.
There is, to my knowledge, no football team called “the Cute Fuzzy Bunny Rabbits”, they choose larger, more ferocious animals for that.
The Air Force uses a peregrine falcon. Why put a bird through that isn’t clear to me. They probably doom it to a very short life with the avian equivalent of PTSD.

I did go to one school in Ft Worth, Polytechnic Heights High School, or “Poly”High.
Poly High had a team called the Parrots. What a large and funny joke that is!
Rather than take a large, intelligent, beautiful, high-strung and above all else Endangered Species bird for a mascot, they instead had a kid with a Foam Rubber parrot costume. It would be a lot easier than having a 300-400 pound scared wild animal with both hooves AND horns to jump into the stands. Like that off-road truck race only the Bison probably wouldn’t roll to a stop nearly as quickly.

Or a Grizzly. Now, I BELIEVE there’s a college team called the Grizzlies and certainly some called Lions, Tigers and Bears (Oh MY!) who don’t actually break out with a live lion, tiger or bear Oh My at their games.

Then there’s Deer. Whitetails, Mule Deer, Elk, Moose… none of them pets. Forget Bambi and Bullwinkle, they’re entertaining cartoons but…

a Mule Deer or Whitetail is about the weight of a grown human and with anywhere between 4 and 16 knives on top of its head, and an instinct for using them that involves ramming them into the belly of the “threat” and just keep pushing.

You see some amazing videos, one is a Grizzly fighting a Mule Deer. The Mule Deer Wins, grizzly dies.

And an Elk in a lady’s backyard on Cell Phone video
“look, there’s an elk in my yard, and he’s bugling! here, I’ll take some pictures of him.” and then you see the bottom of an elk hoof stomping on the cell phone.

I saw by the Sonic Restaurant a couple of weeks ago, a small herd of Mule Deer, mostly yearling males. With the knives on their heads, yeah. They were eating the crab-apples off the trees. People were taking pictures of them. Getting close to them. With their KIDS getting close to them.
Oh, nothing happened THIS TIME but there really aren’t any wild animals which are actually safe to approach, and people shouldn’t teach their kids otherwise. It’s a bad habit that gets people killed or injured. Frequently.

The Park Service in Yellowstone (or was it Yosemite?) killed a momma grizzly which had in her turn killed a human. “Euthanized” for knowing that human=food.
ALL the bears know that. Duh. People still feed them deliberately in spite of the long history of how much FAIL! that idea is.

They get used to it, and they get an attitude. People attitudes are somewhat like “Awww, Teddy Ruxpin and or Winnie the Pooh!” Not so. Bear attitude is like “you feed me one way, or you’ll feed me the other, your choice and choose quickly.”

Definitely not on my list of what to buy at the pet store. There were, when I was a kid, baby Mississippi Mud Slider turtles sold as pets. They’re not good pets. They don’t kill you with their fearsome claws and non-existent fangs. Psittacoccosis on the other hand, a parasitic infection called “Rabbit Fever” or “parrot fever”…

And, at the same time and about 5 times the price (the turtles cost like a buck apiece at Winns Dept Store) you could buy a Cute Little Baby Alligator.

I’ll leave you to guess where that might lead. I’ve got an anecdote about that
OK, alligator story. Rounds out the meme nicely. My wife, when she was a child was left motherless, and was sent to the Buckner Baptist Childrens Home in Dallas. She arranged a slight discount on a baby alligator at a pet store at Big Town Mall, across what’s now a freeway from Buckner. Meaning, she picked it up quick and run home hard. Had it only a few days, it bit the housemother and the staff informed her “Martha, it’s got to go”.

So she liberated it. In White Rock Lake. Near Downtown Dallas. If you fly into or out of Love Field the landing pattern will take you right over White Rock Lake. There are baby alligators found, from time to time, in White Rock Lake. It’s conceivable that the alligator survived. For a while. Alligators grow to be 19 feet long and live for 60 years or more.

That would leave the problem of the Baby Alligators. Martha only let loose ONE. Doubtful that a month-old baby alligator would already be in egg-laying mode. They do sometimes wander up the Trinity River, but by the time they get to the middle of Dallas they’re probably too chemically altered to reproduce.

However, alligators have this problem that people dislike. They get bigger than the Cutesie Puppy-love stage. At which point they get the annoying habit of biting people. Hard. and eating neighborhood pets. So do pythons. There’s urban legends of people having purchased king cobras, and fer-de-lance and other deadly snakes, as pets, display exhibits really, in their own private Fantasy Zoos.

There was a Lion Cub, at a pet store, right down Rosedale Street from Poly High. Lioness, named Sheba. I don’t know to whom they ever sold Sheba. It would be unlawful to own one in Ft Worth. Maybe, and I hope this ain’t the case, (she was a likable little big kitty) to one of those Safari Ranches where you can pay a couple of grand and go on a Real African-like Big Game Hunt.

About as sorry a bunch of sodding gits as ever stole oxygen from the rest of us.

Now how much would you pay? Not blaming the CSU Buffalo for this, it’s just one node on an awfully big social tumor.

I read where the Romans disdained the “barbaric” Celts because the Celts did human sacrifices. Imagine that. The Romans tied people to stakes and crosses in their stadia and lit them on fire. In a civilized manner of course. For the entertainment of their civilized civilization. How far down that road America might go, who knows.

We do have Zoos, Circuses, Rodeos, Safari Ranches, and professional sports that involve a lot of people hitting other people. Hard. Fast. Repeatedly. And for profit wars of conquest, mustn’t forget that part.

We have movies like Jonah Hex. I see the commercials for it, in the 25 second commercial it shows four snuffs, three by my assholish erstwhile namesake and one by his girlfriend. We had one movie that was a satyric take-off of snuff flicks called “Buckets O’ Blood”. One wonders, how close are we to the edge?

World Cup victory dances demonstrate culture clash of national identities

World Cup Football champions España hopped up and down like school- boys in elation about their victory. More culture shock for NFL or MLB fans: FIFA goals were celebrated with the airplane, the “can you believe that?”, the pileup, the pyramid, the group dance, and team USA’s “America Fuck Yeah!”

Argentine players lose to their bosses, New World Order is Old World Order


Team Argentina unfurled a banner before Saturday’s match against Germany, against FIFA regulations, but it wasn’t the one above which calls attention to the organization of grandmothers trying to lift the veil on Argentina’s Disappeared, some of whose murderers still occupy high office. This picture was taken during an earlier practice session. Instead, before today’s game, the Spanish-speaking Argentines were joined by their German-speaking adversaries to hold a sign in English: “SAY NO TO RACISM.” It reached American and British viewers, but could the message have been more innocuous?

The admonition resembled “Just Say No To Drugs,” Nancy Reagan’s pseudo-urbane theme of America’s War On Drugs, an attack on the lower class that continues today and couldn’t be more racist.

Note how two dark-suited gentlemen unrolled the English banner while FIFA line judges enjoin a handful of players from both teams to form the backdrop. About the “bold letters” television commentators described the cause of the brief delay as “something we all believe in.”

Will we learn from those in the stadium that the Argentine team had unfurled its anticipated banner, but the TV cameras were kept aimed at a FIFA diversion?

One might be excused the impression that the soccer game that followed, Argentina’s catastrophic loss to Germany, appeared to have suffered a similar negotiation. Half of the excitement of an Argentine ascendancy was anticipating the mouthpiece it would give coach Diego Maradona, beloved star and great fan of international upstarts Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Maradona hasn’t been speaking truth to only Argentina’s power.

The Argentine dribblers dominated the Germans at every turn, but none seemed disposed to coordinate a goal. At keep-away, they surrendered the ball to Germany only four times.

The South American quarterfinal losses to Netherlands, Spain and Germany confirmed that as sports mirror life, the New World Order is the Old World Order. The Ghanian Black Stars are out, and the Dutch rise from the ashes of South Africa.

FIFA vuvuzela horns may prove to be thin-skinned America’s best friend

Gearing up for Saturday’s World Cup match between the USA and Ghana, media talking heads are already preparing US viewers for the home field advantage that will favor the remaining African team in contention. Convenient actually, because by chance our A-Team is booed in any arena it sets its invader’s foot. The now maligned South African horns have so far masked a third world animosity that might put most Americans over the edge. The nerve of those ingrates, to boo, hiss and whistle the emperor’s freedomTM fighters?

Soccer offsides rule is agreement not to score behind your opponent’s back

The US pretends the International Criminal Court doesn’t have jurisdiction over its war crimes, and thinks the same immunity should shield us from FIFA referees I guess.
 
The USA-Algeria match today was hard fought, admittedly team USA displayed an offensive edge. Rooting for Team Weasel Empire doesn’t automatically make you a Nazi, but I’ll be curious to hear firsthand accounts of the hostility our compatriots faced in the stands. The silver lining to a US victory is that eventually our sportscasters will have to apologize to American TV viewers about the constant booing whenever USA gets the ball.

Vuvuzelas may turn out to be a fortuitous annoyance for Western broadcasters. They mask the dynamics of how the spectators are really responding. I was slow to realize what I was hearing during the USA-Algeria match, a consistent switch from boos to cheers whenever the ball changed hands. I’m surprised I didn’t see more commentary about it.

Honestly, the TV talking heads spoke of the US supporter presence being “huge,” and didn’t bat an eye at the eruption of disapproval when Landon Donovan scored the last minute goal to net a USA victory.

The next match pits the US against Ghana, which sets up a plausible excuse for why the entire stadium will be cheering against the USA. Much as I’d like to see an African team advance, I hope the Americans survive, because the more American stateside see our athletes jeered and booed, the sooner our sorry imperialist swagger can face abrupt self-reflection.

Eduardo Galeano’s SOCCER IN SUN AND SHADOW offers a great explanation of the Offsides Rule. Simply put, it reflects the gentleman’s agreement not to go behind your adversary’s back. What sport is there to kicking at an unprotected goal?

Down to sports, empires are tribal

American World Cup viewers tuning in to watch their team face England on Saturday might be excused confusion about their adversary’s flag. Instead of the British Union Jack, English fans waved a red and white standard usually only glimpsed in movies where knights fight dragons, crusades, or Braveheart.
 
That’s the red cross of Saint George, dragon-slayer, minus the diagonal white-on-blue X of Scotland’s Saint Andrew and the red X of Ireland’s Saint Patrick. Where British dominion is concerned, natural resources and labor are commonwealth, assertion of athletic dominance is forever England.

But the England team crest, with the three lions passant-guardant, dates to lionhearted King Richard, the early realm’s warrior expansionist. Technically the heraldic cats are léopards, because the royal houses ruled in the language of the French, and these three show the empire’s spots: Team England’s badge invokes the era when “England” included the conquered Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

As far as world onlookers cared, the first round pairing of USA versus England was an intramural match among conspiratorial members of the Coalition of the Willing. At best one could only root for the good cop colonizer. Early enough in the game, a score fumbled past England’s goalie portended the Gods’ ambivalence over the outcome. Like Olympic teams, the FIFA contenders are groupings of soccer all-stars whose day jobs mean playing side by side, for either Man United or Real Madrid apparently. It’s hard to expect that team allegiances would defer to nationalism any more than to the federation’s television revenues. The achievement of a tie for match USA – England guaranteed to string along the barely interested American TV audience.

England, Scotland and Ireland were grandfathered into FIFA because, despite not being standalone sovereign nations, they originated the competition. Indeed Britain invented football, whose spread across the world is owed to European colonialism.

Sovereignty is no small distinction when it comes to legitimizing sports teams. Taiwan and Tibet are not recognized by China for example, as the Korean halves reject each other, as the US might object to Puerto Rican or Hawaiian bids for succession.

Today a pretense of sovereignty is enough to field a national soccer team. Take Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel, for example, and I needn’t stop there. By what standard are they independent entities versus US client states? They have their own flags, for all the US cares, and I daresay American pride would be sacrificed for the political gain of either of these puppets excelling their master in sport. A success in sporting circles would only bolster the facade of their indigenous national sovereignty.

Does it say something about the difference between contemporary empires and past, that the US doesn’t need to stamp the red, white and blue unto its colonial projects? Nor dominate them in the arena?

We can contrast America’s far-flung possessions and occupations with the British Commonwealth, whose flags closely mimicked mother Britain’s theme. But I’d like to clarify Ireland’s representation on the British flag. The cross of St. Patrick whose outline informs the Union Jack, represents Ireland before her independence. Still occupied Northern Ireland has a flag which duplicates England’s but for the addition of a loyalist co-opted red hand at its center.

While England holds fast to Scotland’s oil and Ireland’s loyalists, when it comes to sport, she wants all the credit.

We live among gods and demigods

I know a someone who’s studying Greek mythology. He isn’t very impressed and told me so, probably baiting me. He fixed me in the eye and said “Put it this way, I’m not going to care about it in college.” It was all I could muster to reply “Maybe.” I feigned not being sure myself, which was puzzling, telling him that he would find that Greek Gods had an odd habit of popping up in almost every academic discipline, especially Western literature, as if that would have mattered to him. Then I made a bet that the names of gods had come up in his favorite reads, Calvin and Hobbes and the Far Side. Nope he said. He wouldn’t have noticed, his mother chimed in, if he didn’t know them.

If he wasn’t going to do it, I thought I’d write his paper.

I thought about how content I felt having coaxed he and his siblings through attending a staged Odyssey, aided by a large and embarrassingly aromatic bag of m&ms. Surely Odysseus in the flesh was a head start I didn’t have. And I thought about how to have explained the gods further. They were more than themed superheroes, they were Gods. Do you capitalize gods in the plural? We spell it He, but not Them. Do we have their like in the Virgin of Guadalupe or St. Francis of Assisi? The Saints I guess, were not long ago role models: St. Bernadette, St. Joan, St. Barts (just kidding), St. Nick.

Of what import gods? As goes God, so too The Gods?

How do you explain the meaning of the classic gods, their relevance to Greek and Roman lives, in this age of monotheism? We’re not even that, we believe in a plurality of single gods. The best of us tolerate all, but believe that in their multitude of identities we’re only talking about one. A singular omniscient deity would have been strange to the Greeks, just as a committee of squabbling immortals would seem horribly inutilitarian to us.

My quandary extended some because in actuality monotheism was a framework I was imposing. In a single boomer generation, most of us now inhabit a secular universe, where religion is mostly lipservice to tradition. We may or may not talk to our consciences, God resides in us yada yada, but for the practical purpose of talking about God or gods, it’s academic.

So what’s the difference, one god or three, I’m thinking of the holy trinity, or a last supper full, or a whole class of 300 BC, many of whom are no longer on speaking terms? Then it occurred to me that today’s secular ungodly society probably resembles that of the Romans or Greeks more than I thought. We’re an empire, as they, decaying into unholy fetishes. We’re post-sacrilegious decadence. And we’ve gone this way before: I’m thinking of the gladiators and slavery, indifference to inhumanity and carnality, form over function and spectacle.

Our consumer culture is the golden calf and very likely Apollo’s temple is a brick and mortar edifice –alright marble and stone– and it’s consulted for oracles. And specialist gods live side by side with us, they on the red carpet. Who are our role models, the vocational enthusiasts to whom we whisper private prayers, but our celebrities? Not gods of archery maybe, but gods of tennis and cycling, go without saying. Their mortality is inconsequential, because their trademarks are immortal. How tangible the Roman gods and demi-gods, their dalliances and bastard progeny, do seem now.

We may have jettisoned Nietzsche’s dead God, but lost none of our weak nature. We do still worship godly personages, except they rise from among us, from our perceived meritocracy. I’ve no doubt genetics is about to confirm that only a few humans are ordained to greatness, affirming our tribal yearning to celebrate blood ties and royal lineage. Soon enough we’ll designate our betters as a superior genus, ourselves only lowly servants content to bask in their spirit-enriching glow.

We do it already, we attend concerts, keep up on the tabloids, wait eagerly for their anointed tweets. We fashion our own ambitions after the super stars of our particular interests. Could that have been the extent of the Roman adulation for their mythic ancestors?

Might Roman society have grown to such decay that the living celebrities walked in the shadow of their unblemished cousins immortal? I’m thinking of the difference between Elvis and Tom Cruise, or between Marilyn and Madonna. The big gods died young. The larger-than-life who were unexpired were the living gods who saw the flame of their lifetime extinguished with entropy.

Of course, how to explain the protracted legacy of gods like that? Did there follow such a dearth of unexceptional humanity, judging through the filter of the Dark Ages and prism of the Enlightenment, that every cultural reference can only point back before the Greeks?

How would you explain today why James Dean or Salvador Dali should be remembered into perpetuity? Won’t future generations have their own Formerly-know-as-Princes and Marx Brothers Stooges for masses to hold in reverence?

The truth is no. Anomalies like Einstein and Mozart aside in the mortal hierarchies, the archetypal heroes of Western mankind’s understanding of his social self, established themselves during civilization’s formative years. Just as Jesus and Co emerged from proximate centuries, so did introspective man have a stone age during which the character range of his character was cast in stone. In theory.

Therefore, yes, the classical gods are for us to study, as we would metallurgy or farming. Lest we inhabit only the now, with Parises of Ashton Kutcher and Dianas of Sarah Jessica Parker.

16-year-old Jessica Watson completes solo circumnavigation, flunks geometry

When 16-year-old Jessica Watson arrives in Sidney tomorrow, she will be the youngest person to sail around the globe alone. The precocious Aussie will be denied an official record however, for the same reason the Olympics enforce a minimum age for gymnasts, protecting suggestible minors from overzealous parents ostensibly. The snubbing might seem an unenforceable formality, but it turns out Jessica comes up short on another technicality, the same principle which holds that girth is measured at the waist.

The “circum” in navigate refers to circumference. Let’s take nothing away from the young adventurer who’s proven herself plenty brave, a capable sea-person, and undeniably a class act. Criticism of her geometry or vocabulary is aimed really at her internet fans who are now raining expletives on sailing officials who would deny her a world record.

Just as we credit her home team for media, communications, and consultation, readers of her blog know that Jessica set her autopilot to daily coordinates provided to her. Thus it was Team Jessica which charted the interesting compromise.

While no one expects round-the-world sailors to follow the equator, circumnavigation at minimum requires traversing an orb over its circumference. You cannot, as an extreme example, run a few paces off the South Pole and call yourself a circumnavigator. Soon we’d have swimmers circumnavigating the North Pole. The de-icing of the Northwest Passage likewise will be providing new shortcuts for would-be record breakers. Jessica Watson’s ability to traverse the south seas owed entirely to techncal innovations which have yielded stronger crafts and better storm avoidance. The latitudes formerly named for their impenetrability, the Roaring Forties, Furious Fifties and Screaming Sixties, are now open to sporting pursuits. Making the straight shot across all longitudes there is a distance a fraction of the equator. As a result, ocean racing adjudicators have decided that a proper circumnavigation should mean at least 21,600 nautical miles across the seas, a distance that approximates the width of our planet.

Did Team Jessica miscalculate? More likely it was an expeditious decision to enable a finish before the youngster’s 17th birthday. Going the extra distance would have added extra days to Jessica’s sixteen years. The course was thus plotted to make Sidney at greatest haste. Which meant setting their own interpretation of a circumnavigation.

To do this, Team Watson contrived a simplification of the minimum requirement: crossing all longitudes and passing over the equator twice, which their sailor dutifully did. Their explanation to Jessica’s fans sounds officious, but is not universally accepted as equivalent to a full circumnavigation. Can you measure a waistline by passing the tape around one leg so long as you extend it up through a belt loop? On a globe such an approximation comes up short. Level of difficulty to sail it, still enormous, but a foreshortened route.

Actually, Miss Watson’s Burmuda rig will have traveled 23,000 sea miles taking into account her drift and the tacks required to work the wind, but her charted course accumulates to only 19,000. Imagine shortening the Tour de France to substitute sections on stationary bikes. No less effort, but not quite the Tour.

Watson’s official start was delayed by a mishap that sent she and Ella’s Pink Lady back for repairs and may have sealed the fate of her world record.

Pink Lady’s departure made the news in a bigger than expected way over a half year ago. Concerns about allowing so young a person to attempt a solo circumnavigation appeared vindicated the next day when Jessica struck a freighter on her very first night. This meant a return to harbor for the Pink Lady and having perhaps to reroute the journey of shorter duration than initially planned.

Perhaps the racing officials are right to retire seafaring records based on age. With modern technology and remote systems having become what they are, what does it mean anymore to differentiate “assisted” or “unassisted”? 2009 witnessed the first Atlantic crossing of a catamaran captained by a quadriplegic. By any conventional understanding of seamanship that feat was impossible. Before long, who or what is put at the helm will be irrelevant, watercrafts will progress –“unassisted” meaning untouched– guided by unmanned vehicle operators at computer consoles. Perhaps the control could eventually even be crowdsourced online.

The crowd’s attention to Elle’s Pink Lady was owed undeniably to its captain being a 16-year-old girl. For a period on the official blog, public comments were closed off to shed followers whose infatuations may have been unflattering to the schoolroom audiences which Australian television news was drawing to the website. If I had to guess at what was jettisoned, it was probably fan fiction fantasies thinly veiled as hopeful advice to avoid Somali pirates. While some followers were no doubt titillated by the thought of a vulnerable young woman alone on the dark sea, to the average audience, the opportunity to check-in on the Pink Lady in 10-meter swells in near-real time, took vicarious adventuring to new heights.

On the other hand a 16-year-old captain’s log had obvious drawbacks. The facility to wax poetic hits at an age later than the teens apparently. Previous age-record holders like the teen who took five years to circle the globe in the Dove was in his twenties when he chose to write about it. Jessica’s narrative was extemporized and followed a pragmatic motif. Her notes reflected the singular focus of young specialist whose technical proficiencies might have crowded out wider observation skills. Preoccupied with her boat’s speed, in between, nothing. Her typical report was peppered thus:

“Yeah, so, nothing new to report really, so, yeah, so, that’s about it for me, so, yeah.”

When Captain Jessica wasn’t relating the progress the Pink Lady was making, or the occasional repair attempt she planned to revisit, her thoughts were on the day’s menu, the supplies packed for her which she opened like a Christmas chocolate calendar, supplemental gifts scheduled to lift her spirits at regulated intervals and the latest blog comments to which she relayed personal replies.

In addition to the typical teenager sweets fixation was another unexpected first, although clearly enough foreseen by Team Jessica’s sponsors. Video blogging on a daily basis meant that Jessica had to worry about her makeup and hair. She holds the world record I’ll bet for first solo circumnavigator to concern herself with wardrobe and beauty products.

For the most part, Jessica impresses like the average gifted and talented, and disappoints where you’d expect it too. How interesting are the whims of a child of millionaire parents able to indulge a not-necessarily world-changing enterprise? Elle’s Pink Lady is a model of commercial endorsement banking on publicity spectacle. No different from most high profile sports, professional tennis for example, but of virtuoso certainly less athletic. It’s more like Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, watch their children take to the sea.

With Jessica’s upcoming arrival garnering excitement, isn’t it fitting that an unpredicted non-sponsor is stepping forward to reap product placement. It turns out the Australian conglomerate responsible for the “Pink Lady” apple considers the name of Jessica Watson’s project a trademark infringement, but they’re ready to settle if she considers adding them to her endorsements.

Norway ties USA for Olympic gold

Does it matter really in transnational games between warmonger countries? Nearly all Winter Olympic participants are NATO occupiers of Afghanistan. Though Norway was among several who condemned the Iraq invasion, its oil company is complicit in exploiting Iraq’s oil.

The gold medal tie between a nation of 309 million and another 1.5% its size is contingent of course on the outcome of today’s hockey match-up, a sport just as all-white as cross country skiing. It’s hard to imagine Kenyans not leading the pack if someone would jest give them skis.

The 50k cross country ski event is known as the King’s race, because the winner is king, metaphorically. It reminds me of my grandmother’s “queen for the day” award to my best-behaved cousins. The real king doesn’t of course participate in the race, but lends gravitas to the champion among his best trained men. The biathelon throws a rifle into this pursuit event, for those who having difficulty relating competition sports to military preparedness training.

Norway’s winner is named Northug, which draws a not inappropriate allusion to Norway’s historic contribution to modern Europe. After Rome’s collapse, it was the Vikings who restarted the West’s imperialist economic growth model.

Suomi hockey team beats Slovenska for bronze at 2010 Jeux Olympiques

Finland beats Slovakia for 3rd placeWhat does it say across the front of the Finnish hockey jersey “SUOMI?” Is that an acronym or an internet initialism? While it could be enthusiasm for Olympic mascot Sumi, Suomi is Finnish/Saami for what they call their country. Apparently the Finns didn’t get the memo about bringing Olympic text into uniform English-compliance.

Swedish jerseys use the abbreviation SWE for example, even though they spell their name Sverige. Similarly Austria, AUT, which otherwise goes by Österreich, and Japan, who spell it Nippon.

Norge, Polska, Nederland, España, Schweitz/Suisse, Belarus, Latvija and Kasakctah are perhaps close enough not to confuse American television viewers. Other hold outs are Hungary’s Magyarország, Germany’s Deutschland, and Russia’s ?????? -even the Asian nations know to romanize their Olympic alphabet. When in Rome, even the Greeks speak English.

It amazes me that American interviewers expect Olympic athletes to speak English. Where they don’t, their names don’t even get a mention. South Korean speed skaters are referred to only as “the Koreans.” Chinese free-style ski jumpers were given English nicknames so their “Chenglish”-speaking American coach could tell them apart.

Remember the horrendous scandal and the Media Blitz(es) That followed?

Mark Sanford, Governor of South Carolina… Used government money to finance Argentine Tryst. A full Seven Hours every day for a month analyzing the story and berating him…. woops didn’t happen… Sorry.

Senator Larry Craig, (R) Idaho (I da pimp! bad joke) practicing the unsafest of all Sex Acts, random anonymous sex, in a Mens Room at the Minneapolis Airport, Married, family man, cheating on his wife.

They followed him everywhere, then when he disappeared they staked out his boat, his house, his mom’s house and his kids school trying to get pictures of him… ooopsie… That didn’t happen either.

Bob Allen of Florida, State Representative, (R) in a men’s room repeatedly, so afraid of Black Dudes raping and robbing him that he followed them into the John and paid them 20 a piece to fellate them…
Married, Cheating on his wife…
When he went in to Sex Rehab the National Enquirer poked cameras into every opening in the fence looking to catch a picture of him. Nope, not that either…
My favorite, Vitter of Louisiana getting caught with his diapers down… He of “Family Values” and Unimpeachable Morals fame.
All of them, when they apologized, did so clearly, succinctly and humbly, then submitted themselves to the questions of the repor…

Wait a minute. None of them apologized, at all, ever. Since they were all members of the Bu’ush Regime and active supporters of the War Of Terror, their actions DID affect more than just their families and thus, they DID owe America an apology. Not merely for being Sexual Hypocrites, but for the God-Damn 8 year killing Spree “their” troops have been engaged in. That’s pretty damn major. All of them made a big hoo-hah over criminalizing Sex between Consenting Adults and de-criminalizing Hate Crimes. (not just the Hate Crimes against gay People either)

None of them bothered with Rehab, none of them hounded and their families hounded for what’s now 3 Freakin’ Months, mon… nothing at all like what a guy who plays the dorkiest game in existence for a living is subjected to.

People PAY the government officials for leadership and for being Role Models for their kids. It’s one of the Job REQUIREMENTS for Christ’s Sake.

But a guy who plays a game for a living, is really required to do nothing but smack a very small ball with a very crooked stick into a very small hole that’s anywhere between 75 and 200 yards away.

And do it consistently. It doesn’t matter if they have a messed up politicial, social or personal life. Some of the courses he plays on had never had a Black golfer in any of their tournaments EVER when he started. Some of them at the time still forbad blacks to actually play there, pay to play there, with no chance at winning money. So why the anger? Are they really such shitty parents that they need a middle aged black man who they’ve never met to be a Role Model for their piglets?

Since WHEN? Would they walk into the Midnight Rose or the Brass Ass (for our international audience, those are local casino establishments) and march up to the Penny Slots machines, demand that in order to win (more like, LOSE) money at the One Armed Bandit they first have to pledge to be Morally Superior, saints in fact, and to raise the children of Millions of really lazy parents who don’t have the skill or ambition to do it themselves?

Shit, they don’t even do it for Professional Leaders like Politicians and Preachers (I bet Haggard thought he was sliding on this score)

P.S. all of them, except the Golf Player, are back at their chosen professions. And probably their favorite hobbies. The only one else who had a serious chance of losing his career is the preacher.

Johnny Damon the myth of sports news

Local news on TV gets a scant few minutes of coverage, where the story of the day vies with weather to edge out everything else that isn’t fluff. In national news, interviewees can seldom get an answer in edgewise before they’re rushed off for the commercial break. “That’s all the time we have” ends every news story, yet the day’s sports story is paraded before sport desk after sport center. I used to envy the attention Americans gave to sports, until I saw the scrutiny was illusory. For example, Johnny Damon’s double stolen base in game four of the World Series.

It may stand as the most memorable moment of the series, giving Sunday’s game to the Yankees. Damon beat a tag out at second, but continued running because the ball was behind him and there was no adversary guarding third.

As I write, I already remind myself of the SNL skit about Norwegians staging their own translation of an American TV crime show. In the spirit of being an outsider I’d like to add that Fox Sports has chosen unfortunate replay graphics, featuring stars bursting from the center of the screen. Most cutaways leave closeups of baseball players, almost all of them chewing and spitting. The graphics seem to erupt from their mouths.

The fact that no one was on third wasn’t immediately clear to the television audience, for whom third base was out of camera frame. I thought for a minute I was spectating a Playstation game, where a specialist I know can always rundown the pickle, but Damon strode unchallenged to the abandoned base. None had seen such a thing before, such was the hyperbole. With what looked like impulsive genius, Damon confounded fans and critics who’d been comfortable to agree with Damon’s own self-deprecating image as a dumb jock.

Johnny Damon’s stolen third base was the talk of the post play-by-play. It turns out the Phillies had made a Mark Teixeira shift which left the base exposed. The very semantics offer a clue to the real story, but the jocks dropped it there.

The final analysis for the viewers? I’ll put it in layman’s terms: the Phillies had shifted their players in anticipation of batter Mark Teixeira, who hits to a very consistent hole in the outfield. The shift left the Phillies third baseman to cover second, and the pitcher, if warranted, to watch third. But the pitcher wasn’t watching, and as Damon passed the third baseman on second base, he calculated that he could outrun both of them to the empty base.

Great story, no one is credited an error, New York shorn Johnny Damon emerges a strategist, and the authenticity of the surprise of adrenalin rush which Damon gave the viewers is affirmed. But might not the media team calling the game have served the audience better if they’d called the Phillies’ unusual position shift? The sportcasters deserve the error on this play, but mostly I think for their lack of post game candor.

Both infield and outfield players shift their positions depending on who’s at bat. That’s not news. Apparently when Yankees Mark Teixeira comes up to bat, the adjustment is out of the ordinary. And probably that too doesn’t merit mention. No doubt every team playing against the NY Yankees coordinates itself differently. But can we not surmise that Yankee runners who find themselves on base when Teixeira is hitting, are looking for exactly the opening which Damon took? And if the Yankees batting lineup is fairly consistent, would it seem probable that this opportunity regularly falls to Damon?

It takes nothing away from Damon’s feat, but I think to read his action on second base as improvisational is to pretend the World Series baseball audience was born on game three.

Federer finds sweet spot below the belt

Roger Federer vs. Novak Djokovic in semifinals of US Open 2009Tennis Grand Slam tournaments are for fans of Lexus, Chase, Netjets and JP Morgan, apparently. JP Morgan executive Mary Callahan Erdoes was even on hand during a commercial break to “thank the fans.”
 
But at today’s US Open, Roger Federer showed that Heineken drinkers aren’t above circus hijinks. Federer scored the second to last point of the men’s semifinal round with a swing between the legs. Note he is looking at neither the ball, nor the court, making not just a save, but placing a return beyond the reach his opponent. Physical intuition.

Lacrosse fought & equipped by warriors

Warrior Sports
Need another tipoff that the sport of lacrosse is early combat training? The leading equipment purveyor is Warrior Sports.

This photo was taken at the 2009 Jamboree in Denver Colorado, where teams of little white boys converged to declare state champions. The sea of white was interrupted by a single black team, a girls team, I conjecture because women’s lacrosse is played more like field hockey, necessitating much less protective gear. From sticks to heads, to helmet, to Kevlar, every element of Lacrosse gear had a starting price of $120, going up.

Schools don’t have budgets to support both football and lacrosse armature. Lacrosse leagues are sort of the charter schools of youth sports: only those with disposable incomes need apply. If African American youth dominate you school sport programs, why not take you Anglo-Saxon tykes to fields where they can dominate each other without a challenger’s interruption? But I digress.

Lacrosse is for tots who already harbor an innate itch to thrust handguns forward, but have to be taught that, in every useful gunfight save those of James Bond, standard issue is an assault rifle, which necessitates both hands, and best represented in early boot camp as its earliest belligerent incarnation: the stick.

Kids like lacrosse because they get to swing their sticks at others with wild abandon. It’s especially fun, I’m told, when you really hate your opponents.

Spain reaches French Open final after all

Second game of French Open final between Roger Federer and Robin SoderlingIn the second game of the final match of the 2009 Roland Garros, a spectator leapt unto center court where he tried to drape Roger Federer in a flag. Television didn’t want to dignify the antic with explicatory coverage, as if the interruption was another Basque ETA outburst. It turns out the red and blue standard wielded by the nimble interloper represented Football Club Barcelona. Streaking is dead, no place for a logo.

Borel & Mine That Bird moon horseracing

Calvin Borel rides MINE THAT BIRD from last place to first at the 2009 Kentucky DerbyTo watch the replay of Calvin Borel’s ride at Churchill Downs is more captivating than it was live. Even anticipating the 50 to 1 upset, Mine That Bird‘s final stretch weave from last place to first looks like an athletic feat for Maradona.

It happened so fast, Mine That Bird was mentioned only once before the end of the race, even then it was almost an omission. Borel was so far behind, laying back after getting squeezed coming out of the gate by Papa Clem and Join In the Dance, that the broadcast announcer missed him entirely, declaring that “the last of them all is Mr. Hot Stuff.” Midway through his next phrase he corrects himself to add that “–well behind the rest of them is Mine That Bird.”

From that point, Mine That Bird’s wild ride is ignored even beyond his breakthrough into the lead. As Borel bursts into contention along the inside rail, the announcer erupts “Pioneer of the Nile!” by mistake, or if even because he was looking elsewhere. It isn’t until Borel pulls to a several length lead that Mine That Bird gets a credit. Such was the upset.

Seen from the aerial view, the finish was not a surprise at all. Accelerating into the last turn, Borel and Mine That Bird wove between the others like they were plotting the shortest line between points. The speed differential reminded me of a Grand Prix racer when he’s passing the cars he’s already lapped. As the improbable pair began gaining, their momentum seemed all but irresistible. Watching the replay, you can see Borel’s attack, and marvel that it escaped the attention of all the professionals who usually weigh in so liberally with effusive expertise.

Horse racing is a legitimization of eugenics, meaning that when there is money on the line, genetic supremacy is hard science. That is perhaps what is so invigorating about the Churchill Downs upset. Calvin Borel, the physical personification of a toothless street-corner imbecile, and Mine That Bird, a horse sold for a price less than your average Paint, trained outside the gated enclaves of Kentucky.

RACE RESULT with ENTRY NUMBERS:
1. Mine That Bird #8
2. Pioneer of the Nile #16
3. Musket Man #2
4. Papa Clem #7
5. Chocolate Candy #11
6. Summer Bird #17
7. Join in the Dance #9
8. Regal Ransom #10
9. West Side Bernie #1
10. General Quarters #12
11. Dunkirk #15
12. Hold Me Back #5
13. Advice #4
14. Desert Party #19
15. Mr. Hot Stuff #3
16. Atomic Rain #14
17. Nowhere to Hide #18
18. Friesan Fire #6
19. Flying Private #20

White Flight from football to assault rifle

Lacrosse baggataway warriorRyan dons the rest of his gear in the car. Pads, armor, helmet, even mouth guard. I adjust the rearview mirror downward until I see his small frame in the backseat. We’re only halfway to practice and he’s already biting down, breathing through his nose, focused straight ahead. It’s the same routine for football, except today he’s got a lacrosse stick across his knees. In his grip, I should say. When we pull the car to the edge of the parking lot, he jumps and literally hits the ground running. From my height he gives me the sense I’m a helicopter pilot who’s dropped soldier reinforcements to join the team on the pitch. There’s a steep hillock between Ryan and the field, but his charge never slows, he ascends like a Cavalry of One, his stick brandished like an assault rifle.

Would an M16 be held any different? The difference between football and lacrosse is that your little assault squad is armed.

In 1763 a band of Chippewa Indians seized Fort Michilimackinac by feigning a game of baggataway, the Native American origin of lacrosse. The Indians pretended that an over-spirited drive led players over the fortifications and within minutes they’d stormed the ramparts.

In a spirit of honoring American Indian tradition, like the harvest celebration of Thanksgiving, American dads are pushing a new sport unto the youth athletic season. Because the first early adopters where also the first white men to hit the New World, the sport now has a Mayflower WASP identity too.

Lacrosse has an exotic appeal in spite of its New England tradition. It’s sort of field hockey gone aerial, full court jai alai with armor, East Coast blue blood rooted with the authentic red bloods, the original old money land owners.

Is that what’s behind the lacrosse resurgence? As Ryan’s team wrapped up the other day, they passed baseball diamonds and could not hold back from chanting “lacrosse, lacrosse” toward the children playing baseball, as if to instigate a cross-sport rivalry. Lacrosse teams are still relatively scarce. On weekends they have to cross neighboring metropolitan regions to play each other.

How many sports programs do you need to round out your kids? Boys have baseball, football and basketball, among the big team sports. Neither of which are the biggest sports internationally. Soccer and handball. Curiously both those require little equipment. They are perfect for the Third World, but imperfect for consumer cultures which have wheels of commerce to drive, especially in recreational pursuits.

Which could explain why Lacrosse teams have to traverse great distances to encounter adversaries. The usual cross town rivals can’t pony up the money for this game.

Lacrosse is White Flight from football. Most schools have barely enough money to keep their athletes in football gear, let alone a completely redundant lacrosse kit. And so the only kids playing lacrosse are from families who can afford the hundreds extra for the specialized equipment. Added bonus, there are no players bringing a black athletic advantage to the game. Like the other equipment intensive sports of the northern climes, lacrosse is a venue where white boys can dominate, and give their accustomed advantage some elbow room.

I remember a fencing instructor encouraging prospective young pupils at a toney gym, about a peripheral advantage to the sport. Ivy League schools offered fencing scholarships, and prospects outside the usual New England states would be at an advantage for consideration. It was the first glimpse I had of counter-insurgency strategies in America’s race war.

Lacrosse may be the arena where prosperous families can let their white boys roughhouse with supremacy, but the joke’s definitely on them. It’s a sport for social climbers, and this ladder is definitely pointed elsewhere. Is your Playstation 3 teaching options trading or first person combat? Lacrosse is real world preschool basic training.

What does lacrosse impart that Football doesn’t? The teamwork is the same, the size differentials are still key. In both games there is only one ball, but in lacrosse, regardless who has the ball, everyone has a stick. If ever there was a sport which prepared athlete soldiers, lacrosse is it.

The sport of real blue bloods was always Rugby. In England, where commoners play rugby, you can always tell the rugby veterans by their broken noses and missing teeth. In America it’s the preference of the prep schools and private colleges, where offspring of the affluent can acquire scars without fear that it will hinder their job prospects because their futures are secure.

America’s white settlers weren’t blue bloods, they were the ground troops dispatched to seize the continent. It looks to me, the same American Dreamers are being tweaked again into service of the empire. The poor bigoted middle class is turning their boys out for real war.

Ask Alex Rodriguez how he does Tic Tacs

Tic TacsA-Rod held a press conference to explain his now admitted steroid use, a mistake he blamed on his youth, when he was 24-26. While the “Boli” which Rodriguez got through his cousin, over the counter in the Dominican Republic, remains a mystery. Rodriguez claimed he did not know it was a steroid. Asked why he kept the twice-a-month for-three-years injections a secret, he admitted he knew “We weren’t taking Tic Tacs.” The comparison might be a dismissive reference to the innocuous breath mint, but it implies a small pill taken orally, doesn’t it? For your breath. Can you inject a Tic Tac? Maybe it’s time to ask: what in professional sports circles is a “Tic Tac” injection?

Is there a sumo in your future?

Mark FidrychThe Bird
I used to avert my imagination on the subject of Sumo Wrestling. Probably I still do, visualization wise. But the bigger than grotesque spectacle has suddenly fascinated me, as a historic predecessor of the wide world of sport of our future.

How odd that a tiny bonsai-grown island people fixate on professional athletes multiple times a normal human size.

It seems so inorganic, to cheer for man-hippos, instead of competitors made from our own image. After all, we cheer for home teams, not cross town rivals.

But sports fans are coming round once again to see their hero athletes for the super humans they need to be, to impress us with their superhuman feats.

Might I suggest that for a brief democratic period, baseball offered more than an illusion, that a neighborhood hero could emerge from the most unassuming physique. Today Americans recognize that professional athletes are no longer improved versions of us. Real winners are crafted by genetics and unimaginable dedication, for their superhuman destinies.

Our insistence that athletes cannot use steroids therefore seems to me awkwardly unreasonable. Doping levels the playing field, for aspirants up against genetics.

That viewers recognize the well demarcated expectations of the differing athlete body types, became no more clear to me than in this year’s Super Bowl, when a Steelers linebacker carried the ball from end zone to end zone, dodging not only his pursuers, but the book maker’s handicap as well.

Even Saturday Night Live parodied the feat, although their urban comedy cannot be said to snub the NFL certainly. Weekend Update portrayed the beleaguered James Harrison as still out of breath, a full week after SB XLIII. It seems even SNL knows that non-sports watchers would recognize that Harrison’s 100 yard triumph was over and above what a non-running football position could be called upon to do.

It could almost have been an ordinary Japanese man facing a Sumo. That would be populist fantasy, but not sport.

God loses Super Bowl XVIII

Kurt Warner(We should be able to express it here without causing offense–) Thank God Kurt Warner lost the Super Bowl, or we’d not be hearing the end of Warner’s praises to his god for the victory. Odd-makers since before the statistics were kept have recorded that God has proved powerless against flood, famine, and every permutation of human misery. Now we can add the Pittsburgh Steelers to the formidable list.