It involves football, where a former sports broadcaster has comparative advantage, and yet there's a more general lesson.  (If there are any Cold Spring Shops readers who don't pay much attention to the football playoffs, the following refers to the closing moments of the Pittsburgh at Cincinnati game Saturday evening, in which two felony stupid penalties by Cincinnati players put Pittsburgh in a position to kick a game-winning field goal, and Lucy wasn't the holder.  Unlike the Vikings.  But I digress.)
Vontaze Burfict and Pacman Jones can say whatever they want to say, they lost the game, they had the game won.  They were both, Burfict particularly was a hero, despite who he is, despite whatever his character is, he could have been the toast of that town, and threw it all away and probably felt happy that it all happened because of whatever cultural things go on here that define toughness and manliness.

I don't pretend to understand it.  But it was just stupid.  The game was won.  There was no reason for any of this to happen in terms of playing to win.  The reasons for it to happen were entirely personal, out-of-control emotions, inability to focus, no professionalism.  It was just stunning.  And to have it, for the most part, downplayed?
The Trump connection arises because the candidate complained about there being too many roughness penalties. But it has nothing to do with playing the game in a vigorous fashion and everything to do with the pernicious cult of authenticity.  Mr Burfict and Mr Jones have been acting out for years, and people have looked the other way.
This was unnecessary!  The game was won! It's more than hotheads losing control.  There's something seriously wrong here.  The motivation obviously on the part of some of these players was not to win the game.  They had another purpose being on that field Saturday night, and that's where this problem breaks down.  And the people that employ them -- and they're college people! They're college graduates, for crying out loud.  They're college men.  You know, people ask me all the time, "Why don't these coaches tell these people not to do it?  You know, how the...? Stupid penalties in the end zone after a touchdown, a 15-yard penalty for celebrating!"

You may think the penalty's crazy or the rule's crazy, but it is what it is.  Why can't a coach tell a young kid, "Don't do it! I run this team; you're not gonna do it. If you score a touchdown, give the ball to the ref and get off the field."  But the coaches today say, "They're grown men; I can't tell 'em what to do."  It's a different era.  "They're grown men; I can't tell you what to do"?  Then why do we need coaches?  What do you mean, "They're grown men; I can't tell 'em what to do"?  It'd be no different than a parent saying, "This kid is my kid and he's a little out of control, but I can't tell him what to do." It's absurd.  I'm telling you, folks: There's a lot wrapped up in this that goes beyond the football field. 
In the stands the fans are also imitating habits that used to be confined to the poorer quarters.  But if it's prime-time entertainment from the Jersey Shore, does it come as any surprise to see the fans or the players behaving badly?

No comments: