I know there is going to have to be some compromise on my part during this entire sale process. I have no control over the Buffalo Bills in any fashion. I can simply choose to watch and care. Nothing is up to me. All I can do is decide if I want them to be an important part of my life or not.
The community of friends I have built around the team and how I interact with them make distancing myself from the franchise problematic. I’m a long way from home. Sports keeps a line open to all of the friends I’ve made. Sports is how I made them in the first place. I’m kind of a flake. It isn’t easy to make friends when you think every single person around you thinks you’re a flake. Sports act as the crutch I sometimes need to interact with people like a normal human being. Hang out in a crowd. Lob a few jokes around. People laugh. Suddenly they are talking to you. Did you just make a friend by talking about how bad Tim Connolly is? Sports!
Where sports and theatre diverge is how much our sports organizations demand our allegiance. Do people wear Irish Classical Theatre jerseys? Is there a Shea’s Mafia? Do we ascribe our self-worth as an audience to a review of the latest performance of Waiting for Godot? Is somebody calling in WGR with all manner of hot takes on that last monologue or aside? Theatre asks for our love in different ways. They’d like for you to be there, be a polite audience, and maybe help out when they need money for renovations.
Professional sport walks into your life and holds you at gunpoint. It is our childhood time killers hijacked by men with long mustaches, top hats and capes. We take something that has brought us immense joy in our lives and give responsibility for it to the wealthiest in our society – those who are the furthest from us in class, empathy, humility, and civics. If you don’t like a little politics in your sports, you can stop reading now. Go in peace.
But this is only one aspect of the influence that were faced with. Everything you buy, see, and any place you go feels the impact. Walk down to the rapidly constructing HarborCenter and see how fast something can get done on a street that stood undeveloped for years when a man with a billion dollars wants it to be done quickly. We are used to this. Robber Barons ain’t anything new, although it has been quite some time since this much wealth and this much power has been so concentrated. We do our best to ignore this because a lot of people have surrendered their control over it. We can’t change our society, so let me escape for a few moments at the least. Why talk constantly about how much we are getting screwed when talking doesn’t stop it? Just move on.
Sports was one of those outlets where we would go to escape the harsh reality of our economics. The crap you have to put up with at your thoroughly unfulfilling job. The stress financial struggles place on your relationships. Massive student debt taken on with the false promise of employment on the other end of it. Watching every single person you know and care about deal with the same thing. If I can get just, like, 16 Sundays away from this garbage maybe it won’t feel so bad. And it works for a little while.
Then Ralph Wilson dies.
A parade of reprehensible turds marches across our sightline with a fist full of their really not all that hard earned money to buy that one thing we all loved and all committed to in the hopes of escaping these very people. We watch sports so we don’t have to think about owners anymore, and here they come, one by one, to make everything we have collapse in a heap of truth.
It is not a coincidence that the four major suggestions and possibilities made public for potential ownership of the Buffalo Bills are certified fuckfaces. Let’s hit it.
His stewardship of the Buffalo Sabres has been marked by absurd statements in the press, half-assed decision making, a solid round of developing a hotel across the street from the building he owns, making a racist joke about the Mayor of Buffalo while standing next to him at a press conference, and putting enough boron in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to put the Manhattan Project’s waste product on blast. Pegula’s access to wealth – hydrofracking – causes earthquakes. FUCKING. EARTHQUAKES. Bond super-villain shit. He made his money by murdering our planet.
AND HE’S THE BEST OPTION AVAILABLE
This motherfucker moved to Florida because we wouldn’t elect him governor, so clearly he is dedicated to the community. At the least, he acts like an owner and does his worst behind closed doors so we don’t have to read about it in the papers constantly. What I know of him is what he has said publicly and done as owner of the Buffalo Sabres.
- He wished everyone could be on one-day contracts. This is tremendous and exactly in the spirit of the ownership class. The only one entitled to any security ever are people like himself, who have clearly earned their money after making smart business decisions.
- Buffalo Slug – one of those smart business decisions.
- He refused to pay Teppo Numminen after the player had a recurrence of his heart condition. It’s about as cold as it sounds. There is a reason Pegula had to haul ass to mend fences with the team’s alumni. It’s because Golisano is a shitstain.
- Larry Quinn worked for him. Nothing happened on the waterfront of Buffalo for 15 years. The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation fucked around with the idea of a Bass Pro Shop inside of the old Memorial Auditorium for eight years. EIGHT. YEARS. FOR. A. FISHING. STORE. All of it Larry Quinn’s baby. Good thing we’ve finally put him out of our lives for his failure to live up to his promises OH FOR FUCK SAKE PEOPLE
- Held a congratulatory press conference after he sold the team to Terry Pegula to talk about how awesome cleaning off ice was with shovels.
I’ll leave it at this with him. Jim Kelly is in a dogfight of a battle with cancer, all of it playing out very publicly. The man, in this state, is still trying to work for the future of the team. Trump, with no God damned intention of buying the team and only looking to improve the look of his brand, has no issue with openly courting and using Kelly for the purpose of inflating his ego.
Donald Trump is using a cancer patient to improve his brand.
I can’t even believe that is a real sentence. And there are those who still talk him up among us. This is what para-military organizations are for. We used to pitchfork and torch motherfuckers like this. We used to be cool, America. Old Man Potter is ragdolling George Bailey and we are rooting for the fucker in the wheelchair.
Maybe the day will come when we put these jamokes in their place. We’ll tax the shit out of them, in the least. Maybe one day I won’t have to walk into a pizzeria and see a jar holding quarters for a family that can’t afford medical bills, because we would have taken all we need from the corporate class. Maybe one day they’ll build their stadiums on their fucking own.
Until then, I’m not letting them take the team I root for. I don’t give a SHIT who owns the Bills, because that person will be a terrible person who got their wealth through terrible means because that’s how you get rich in our society. I watch sports because I want to see great players do great things. I watch sports because of the friends that I have made in the city that I live in and the community that we have made. Owners do fuck shit. We do the work. The players do the work. Don’t let any motherfucker tell you different.
This franchise is yours. If they end up taking it from you, then we are going to have to build another community somewhere else. We will. We always overcome the bastards who take what we love. It’s the saving grace of all of this. There is us. They don’t own us. The community can continue. These bastards pass like hurricanes. They tear apart the structures that we build and wreak havoc on our lives. But the storm passes and we start over.
The players will still play, and we’ll show up and watch because at one point we played too and we think it’s kind of fun to watch good athletes do crazy shit. Then some rich-ass motherfucker will try to take everyone’s money as we’re watching. We should never let that get between us and what we built, and we should NEVER EVER EVER let them make us think it’s supposed to be this way. These people are nothing without us.
Owners have money. They have power. They will never own our respect, our loyalty, or our love. These things are reserved for the things that matter. The game, the players who play it, and the community we build around them together.