Yesterday, following a night where I got little sleep due to fatherly duties and an ill-conceived desire to bait racist Obama-haters on the internets at 4 am, I awoke to a familiar theme in my Twitter feed from a familiar source. Jeremy White, WGR morning show pocket rocket, was criticizing the NHLPA and players for their (alleged) insistence on portraying themselves as victims. He doesn't think fans - not most fans, but ANY fans - buy that kind of meme, and he thinks fans - not some fans, but ALL fans - will eventually turn on the players as a result. In a stunning bit of word gymnastics, he criticized the NHLPA for a PR strategy while, in a subsequent response, claiming that PR is irrelevant.
This wasn't the first time I heard something similar from him about how stupid the players are to whine about their situation and about how their "playing the victim" routine is bound to backfire. I haven't seen much about the owners "whining" (as if a forced work stoppage was anything other than a petulant tantrum in grownup terms) in his critiques, of course, so you're definitely right, before we continue, to question whether I chose a nonstarter and whether an employee at the "Radio Home of the Buffalo Sabres" would bother conceding any
points about the quality of the players' position in this whole fiasco. (More on that in the future, I'm sure...)
Though, perhaps stupidly, I chose to engage. I had points to make, what with White's consistent anti-labor diatribes and my general sympathy for those wishing to adhere to contractual principles of fairness. Out of character for me, I had enough restraint to make my points without calling Mr. White a douchebag or fascist or idiot or any number of things that I thought then and have thought since. I'm a documented asshole, and these are the kinds of things I think sometimes. I went to law school, in part, to channel my energy more constructively so people would like me more. So, I tried to be nice, tried to be persuasive, and generally found myself colliding with a brick wall of contrarian nonsense in consistent support of NHL ownership's power grab. Huh. #StateSponsoredRadio
Using my conversation with White as a point of reference, Outlander talked yesterday
about how disappointing WGR and the Buffalo News tend to be with their lockout coverage - something not exclusive to WNY - and how it's especially disappointing given the general sophistication (meaning attention to details, not necessarily expertise or general intelligence) of Buffalo hockey fans. Outlander made the point, long obvious, but no less true, that we deserve better.
Outlander also left the door open for future debate. And since the lockout may or may not be close to ending, and since my conversation with Mr. White, by it's nature on twitter, was character limited and, perhaps more importantly, unavailable to fans of the Deeg not on Twitter, I wanted to take an opportunity to flesh a few things out.
And since I (and others) already did the polite discussion routine to no avail, I can't promise I'm not about to be a huge dick right now. You've been warned.
I’ve always been a fan of Blaise Pascal. Killer name, insanely gifted genius of mathematics, physical sciences and philosophy, and inspiration for some of my more intense, late night streams of consciousness during the hazy years of 2000 to 2005, Pascal proposed one of my favorite solutions to the “does God exist?” question. That question, while certain to enrage some who would prefer I “keep God shit off this blog,” was central to most of my studies as a philosophy major a decade ago and has been present in my life for as long as I can remember.
Unappealing God shit or not, these are the ABCs of me, baby. /jumps off bridge as punishment for Jerry maguire reference
Pascal, unlike many who confronted that big question throughout the history of philosophy, did not approach the issue with an eye towards answering whether God exists. Unlike Descartes, for instance, who set out to prove God’s existence through a series of logical conclusions all of which seemed to be weighted towards the inevitable *feel good* answer, Pascal assumed from the start that God’s existence and true nature are unknowable. A good start, I think. Instead of seeking to prove the unprovable, then, Pascal merely set out to justify belief in God as the best option given the possibilities. In other words, should God actually exist, faith – and, it is assumed, a corresponding commitment to good works – would give you access to eternal happiness. Disbelief, on the other hand, would risk an eternity of damnation. Should God not exist, however, the impact of the choice to believe or not lasts only a lifetime, rather than eternity. So, Pascal reasoned, even if you risk wasting a life on an ultimately futile belief, choosing belief in God remains the best bet so you can avoid the infinite possibilities of bad things, man.
Putting aside whether you buy into this as a framework for justifying belief in God (as I’m not even sure I do), the good, common sense of the argument is what always strikes me. Run through all the possible scenarios, think through the consequences of your choices in each scenario, and make the choice that produces the most happiness and avoids an eternity of pain and regret.
The Outlander at his finest
In my mind, there is no time that both brings ex-pat’s together and makes them long for home like the start of football season. If you’re away at a decent sized college really anywhere east of the Mississippi, that might mean befriending the only Buffalonian in your class, even if that person is someone kind of strange you’d never hang out with on a regular basis. As an adult, this means heading down to the Bills bar in your new home -- or if your town doesn’t have one -- heading to the bar in town in your Bills jersey to show off your true identity as a Western New Yorker. I feel like at the start of the season, these games (which, when it comes down to it, are meaningless to everyone except the front office) are more meaningful to those living outside the area because it gives them a chance to identify with their hometown in a way that they can’t sitting around at the office or with their friends. I can certainly say, as a former ex-pat, that those games have additional meaning when you’re back home to embrace them again.
There are many reasons people leave the area, but the most common I believe, outside of going away to college, is for a career. This is when it comes down to black and white numbers and, as an adult, numbers really dictate everything. I was no different, although while my reasons were both logical in this way, they were completely misguided in others. I didn’t go to New York, or Boston, or DC, or Charlotte, or any of the outposts that gain a sizeable Buffalonian contingent with their own watering holes and other ex-pats to make friends with. No, I went to Montpelier, Vermont, and the first time I ever saw the town in person was when I showed up for the bar exam with everything I owned already packed away in my car (research!). You see, there are no Bills bars; there are only four bars. The only time people approached me was when they thought my Bills hat was a Giants hat. I realized only a couple weeks in, when these meaningless games started, that unlike most ex-pats, the Bills games (and later the Sabres games) would not provide an opportunity for me to feel immersed in the fandamonium back home, but would make me feel even more isolated. Of course, this was a reasonable observation any of my friends made leading up to my relocation, but what can I say: when The Outlander makes a decision, HE MAKES A DECISION, no matter how absurdly detrimental to the long term.
I just noticed I could have described George W. Bush with that statement so I’m going to go throw up real quick.
Not pictured: my diginity.
[Precursor disclaimer of sorts: I have struggled with whether writing this post is appropriate for DGWUSports (what with our insistence on dick and fart jokes and offensive humor of all stripes), whether I have anything of value to say (what with the general agreement that I am, indeed, an idiot), and whether the value of whatever I can say about this story is worth the potential backlash and confusion and little shitstorms that might come my way (what with our communal inability to process issues of race with any shred of civility...but more on that below).
I don't know everything, and despite the impression you may take from my overzealous and wordy stab at this topic, I'm not pretending to be any final arbiter of race and language and morality. These are my opinions, and mine alone, and are presented here as a mere contribution to a greater conversation that is ongoing and needs to continue in the wake of stories like the one coming out of Ken East.]
Now that my ass hath been sufficiently covered - I hope - some facts, briefly, free of links and such, since I trust that you already know about this story and/or know about Google.
First fact: this post will have little to do with sports. I hope you read it anyway.