Thursday, January 21, 2010

Making Sports Better

I love sports. I spend an inordinate amount of time writing, reading, watching and thinking about sports. Why? Because they don't matter. My life is filled with important issues that need my attention, like how I'm going to ever amount to anything or why we're out of pot. It's liberating to get wrapped up in something that, fundamentally, you don't needto care about. I'm choosing to care about something, and that's a choice I'm privileged to have.

Ludicrous sums of money have been poured into developing sports programming, enough that there's several 24-hour channels focused exclusively on them. The NFL is as good as it's been, the NBA is fantastic and the Yankees have only succeeded at buying a title one out of the past 10 years. Sports are really in a great place right now. That doesn't mean we can't make them better. Here are some ideas.

All-White Leagues
I can't honestly take credit for this one. That should go to Don "Moose" Lewis, who is taking the bold step of starting an all-white basketball league. See that picture of non-racist white person Steve Nash? With his magnificent hair and suit? With his socially acceptable hand gesture? That's what basketball ought to be like. While I love Lewis' passion, I feel to put this...maybe he should have chosen a different sport? Baby steps? No? Okay, basketball it is. I would have started with something a little easier to de-integrate, like Badminton or Ultimate Frisbee. Mr. Lewis is on the right track here, because this isn't about hate. This is just about preferring your game a certain way. Mr. Lewis wants his league to be about "fundamental" basketball, not that crazy "street ball" where you jump and attack the rim and people actually want to watch you play.

Among the proposed rule changes:
1. No jumping. This is the most important rule.
2. No shot blocking. If people start trying to block shots, shooters will have to find a way to elevate their bodies above their defender. The defender obviously needs to respond, and suddenly we're back at jumping.
3. Passing is encouraged, but no-look passing is illegal. A player attempting a pass while not looking directly at his intended target will be assessed an offensive foul.
4. TEENY little shorts.
5. Hair must be moussed and parted. Ideally it'd be parted down the middle, but that's not in the rules. Hey, they're not Nazis.
6. No dunking. See rule #1. If you're tall enough to dunk with your feet on the floor, still no dunking.
7. No fast breaks. This inevitably causes sprinting, which puts us on a slippery slope to the J word. No, not them. They're basically white, so they can play. I meant jumping. Sprinting is a gateway activity; it's like the marijuana of exercise.

I am really excited about the possibilities afforded by this league. Dr. Lewis (he holds no postgraduate degree, but basketball innovators are always referred to as "Doctor." I don't make the rules) points out the three major threats in attending an NBA game: "Would you want to go to the game and worry about a player flipping you off or attacking you in the stands or grabbing their crotch?" I can see where he's coming from. He's just concerned for the integrity of the game. It's not at all like he believes black people are physically and sexually intimidating and is imprinting his own fears and insecurities all over his awesome basketball league. Let's salute this patriot and learn by his example.

Good Super Bowl Halftimes
I'm sure there are people out there who love The Who. I'm also sure that those people are into all kinds of fusty old rubbish and we shouldn't give a crap about them. You know what I've realized from discussing music with my fusty old roommate Rob? People who like classic rock don't buy classic rock. Why would they? The music they enjoy came out 30 years ago and they've owned it for just that long. They might go to see Bruce Springsteen because he takes them back to a special time; a time when things were simpler, when the country's moral fiber was intact and--most importantly--when their penises still worked.

My point is this: in an event that is all about making money and pushing up sales and generating buzz, how are a bunch of 50-year-old dudes raising the bar? Simple answer: they're not. What were the best two halftimes shows of recent years? The Janet Jackson one (we got to see a boob!) and the Prince one (sweet Austin Powers sight gag with his phallus/guitar). They were fun! They had energy! They generated controversy way out of proportion to their actual content! Aside: the Janet Jackson boob thing remains appalling. Not the event; the reaction. It reminded me of how Californian drivers act when it rains. "Holy shit! There's water falling from the sky! What're we gonna do?" They panic, overreact and drive 40mph down the highway. Our nation panicked and overreacted when we saw Janet's old pastied mammary, and we've been driving at 40mph ever since. The Who, indeed. It's like when Stephen Colbert savaged the Press Corps dinner and the next year they exhumed Richard Little's corpse and propped it up onstage for a macabre half-hour of "comedy."

Why not throw in a musical act people would like to see? One that could actually use the opportunity to sell some records and promote themselves? It wouldn't have to be anything that edgy--give Muse the gig and I guarantee they would crush it. Why is the most kinetic, physical high-speed sport promoted during halftime by the revenants of rock stars past? I don't understand it. Also, Pete Townshend is a child pornographer. But you keep those nipples off my screen!

It's not in italics, so I wasn't talking about the classic film starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. Our society has gone far enough down the road that we may as well just give up the ghost and officially become a futuristic dystopia. I'll refer you to the helpful worksheet at right--clearly we're just wasting time by not making the transition now. It's like Devil-President Obama told us after Everything Changed: "You're all fucked so you might as well accept it and brand my mark on your scalps."

Right now we feel the need to apologize for the violence in sports. We create Congressional committees to study concussions in football and tut-tut about Boxing and MMA fighting. We get outraged when Ron Artest heads into the stands for a friendly discussion (I'm not gonna get into Stephen Jackson; that man doesn't give a fuck). Hell, Gilbert Arenas' career is all but over after keeping an unloaded gun at the arena. Also because he signed a $100M contract and subsequently went in the toilet. But what if our athletes not only brought guns to work, but used them at work? The Unreal Tournament games showed us how awesome this could be. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's a vice half-indulged. "Low-fat" ice cream? Get the fuck out of here. If you want ice cream, eat some ice cream. If you don't want to get fat, don't eat ice cream. We want violence in our sports, but more than anything else we just want to stop feeling guilty about enjoying said violence. Let's get this done and in a generation we'll look back and wonder why we didn't always let athletes murder each other for our amusement. Yes we can.

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