Overzealous Rivalry Fans

Standard

I graduated from BYU, and I enjoy watching BYU sports. I am not from Utah, but I figure it’s good to root for your alma mater, and except for a few recent years, BYU typically fields a decent team in most sports. This year was a humdinger as the football team brought back some fun from the glory days. That is about the extent of my sports enthusiasm. I just don’t get into the extreme side of sports rivalries. Sure, I understand it sells tickets, and a little fun banter is well and good – but to the point of actually literally hating someone with a passion that supports the opposing team just doesn’t make sense to me.

A little history is in order. I used to love playing sports…until I blew out my knee repeatedly and my orthopedic advised me to quit or get a new knee in a couple of years. It was a crushing blow to me. I used to play basketball 3-5 days a week, and now I was relegated to a rousing game of golf. Golf isn’t so bad, but you get the idea. A major lifestyle change was forced upon me. I am competitive by nature, and it doesn’t take much to get my blood pressure rising, so keeping it in check has been a lifelong effort on my part. With the removal of playing most sports, I enjoy from my life, the competitive side hasn’t gone away. I am all for a competitive match – foosball is the drug of choice in the office these days. It frustrates me to no end that I am the worst in the office at it by the way.

Back in the college days, I showed up to every home game of every sport I could make time for, especially football, basketball and volleyball matches. I couldn’t get enough of them. I’d show up the next day with a hoarse voice and a smile on my face, win or lose. Never painted myself blue and white, but I brought signs and props to some games, I was into it. I didn’t boo the other team though. I didn’t shout obscenities as they took the field. I have a sense of sportsmanship, and I have a little perspective in life. I have met and known many that have no sense of that perspective. I have had the opportunity to be on the sidelines for a few different teams as staff, photographer, etc. and the things I have heard and seen shouted at the visiting team would astound you.
I just don’t tie my self-image to winning at things like that. I am no fun for those that want to hit you up on Monday to tell you how much you suck, how your team sucks, and generally berate the worth of anyone supporting your team because their’s happened to win this year. I just don’t take the bait. My favorite thing is to actually pick out something good to say about a player on their team and talk about his merits; nothing diffuses an attempted heckler like complimenting their team.

I have a neighbor that graduated from the in-state rival (University of Utah), and I have to say he handles the rivalry thing with a lot of fun and tongue in cheek. I enjoy it. He definitely roots for his team, but he is the type to pull pranks, jeera little, but take defeat gracefully as well. That to me is fun. Being that he is outnumbered 10 to 1 with the neighbors on which side of the rivalry they fall on, this is probably a good practice. This year he snuck around the night before the big game and used cement chalk to draw big “U”s in the driveways of all the “Y” fans. Everyone was surprised but had a great laugh over it. Needless to say, his house was plastered with “Y”s after BYU came out ahead in the last seconds of the game.

Love your school/team/whatever, just realize there is more to life than that big game each year. Have fun with it, just keep it in the realm of reality.

Apostasy Not

Standard

I’m going to admit disappointment. Not necessarily in the quality of the debate; I doubt anyone on either side would complain their side wasn’t forcefully represented. To explain the nature of my disappointment requires some background:

In April, Dan Savage appeared before a high school journalism conference and made some comments about the Bible and about some religious students that walked out on him that caused some anger among the right wing, the religious, and the religious right wing. Dan was accused of all kinds of things, including “bullying,” and a man named Brian Brown, who is the head of the National Organization for Marriage (the pre-eminent anti-same sex, or pro-traditional, marriage organization) challenged Dan to a debate, “anytime, anywhere.”

This was Dan’s response:

“Where? My dining room table. Place? Seattle, Washington. Here’s the deal: we can fill a room with my screaming partisans and your screaming partisans and play to our respective peanut galleries, as we both have a little of the grandstander in us. I feel that will create more heat than light. So what I’d like to challenge you to do is come to my house for dinner. Bring the wife, my husband will be there. And I’ll hire a video crew and we’ll tape a sort of after-dinner debate. You have to acknowledge my humanity by accepting my hospitality, and I have to acknowledge yours by extending my hospitality to you.

I can’t tell you how thrilled I was by this. Not by (necessarily) the idea of a real debate between SSM’s most important institutional opponent and it’s most, shall we say, vivid defender, but by Dan’s choice to be — what’s the word? — how about decent. When’s the last time in our continually expanding battlefield that used to be public discourse did somebody genuinely extend a hand, let alone a home-cooked meal, to an ideological enemy? And I felt the same admiration, and even pleasure when Brown accepted Dan’s offer.

That’s my porn of choice: two public figures being nice to each other. Go figure.

Anyway, the debate, as filmed and put on Youtube, unedited, was a come-down from the pre-bout hype. Not that it wasn’t combative, not that it wasn’t substantive (both of these men know their case law) but it was so… unpleasant. Whatever kindness the two men may have expressed to each other in the unfilmed dinner vanished; they retreated back into their respective corners and went at it, with the same unbending convictions they had going in.

Mark Oppenheimer, the moderator of the debate, felt the same way, writing:

It was dispiriting, but in an instructive way. Here were two Catholics — Mr. Savage born to the faith, Chicago Irish, the lapsed son of parochial schools; Mr. Brown of Quaker ancestry, but a Catholic since college, with a convert’s zeal — who could agree on nothing and could effect no change of heart in each other. They disagreed over whether Mr. Savage had the right to insult the Bible in front of high school students; about whether the New Testament endorsed slavery; and about whether the recent study by Mark Regnerus and its controversial conclusions about gay parents had any merit.

Every time they disagreed, I drank some more.

We can’t, in the end, be surprised. The “Oh my god, what have I done?” moment we all hope for happens only in movies, and other fables, and the number of public figures who have committed that sort of apostasy is very small, and those who do it are rarely rewarded. Think about it: it would be inconceivable for Dan Savage to publicly change his mind about SSM. He’d destroy his career, his reputation, his own family. But it would be just as hard for Brian Brown; his career, as well, is based on his unshakeable advocacy for his cause. What would happen to him if he said, “Hey, you know, let’s let gays get married, it’s no biggie?” He’d lose his job, his public position, maybe even his own family (we assume his wife, mother of his soon-to-be 8 children, agrees with his current views.)

In the end, we don’t really want our enemies to be convinced. We want them to be punished. I am a runner, and I often pass the time while running making Speeches at my enemies, real and imagined. I tell him or her or them how foolish and wrong they are, how ignorant of fact and devoid of decency, and I never imagine them agreeing with me. I imagine them… if I spare a thought for them at all… staring back at me, in angry silence. I don’t want an agreement; I want a victory.

So it is with Dan, and Brian, and the rest of us. In the end, one of the two sides will in this particular argument win (I’ve declared my preference.) Society will change, as it always does, and SSM will become common or illegal, and those who are on the losing side will most likely go to their graves convinced they were right anyway. And those who have won will be happy about that because to we small minded creatures there’s no point in winning if you don’t have somebody you can say you’ve beaten.

Throwing Out Cigarette Butts IS Littering

Standard

Why is it that smokers (in general) think that sharing their butts with the world is ok? Do they really believe that tossing a freshly completed cancer stick out the car window is not littering? Every time I see someone do this, I feel like driving up next to them and tossing any available garbage through their car window. Can you imagine the shock on their face when I land a shot in their back seat with a half-drunk Big Gulp and a banana peel?

I do have a theory about why this habit is so prevalent. People who smoke, for whatever reason, have chosen to completely ignore all the health risks related to this nasty habit. If you can’t tell, I am not worried about offending any readers that might happen to be smokers. You know it, we all know it – smoking is nasty and carries with it an earlier death sentence in life. You have obviously dealt with this issue in some manner and chose to ignore it. My theory is that smokers have learned not to care/respect their own health/body, so therefore they begin to not care about anyone else’s.

Throwing Out Cigarette Butts IS Littering

My same theory extends to the second-hand smoke situation. Hey, I don’t have a pack of my own, so there’s a pretty darn good chance I don’t want to inhale your byproduct. When I am camping I don’t snuggle up to the campfire and inhale deep breaths of smoke for the pure enjoyment of it. I used to be more timid about responding when people asked if I mind if they smoke. Usually, I was tolerant and just distanced myself. I learned this response from a friend. They ask “Mind if I smoke?” I respond, “Mind if I fart?” Crude, but this typically gets the point across.

I am really curious as to the rationalization smoker’s who do this have for the littering habit. Do they figure they pay enough taxes on their smokes that it should cover the crews needed to clean up after their droppings? Is this their little way of getting back against the world for coming down on them all the time? Still upset that laws are being passed to limit where they can light up? Do they just care less?

Throwing Out Cigarette Butts IS Littering

Littering in general bugs me, but smokers doing it just goes over the threshold of my tolerance. You have an ashtray in your car, and there are waste receptacles all over every major city. They are there for a purpose. Oh, and while I’m at it, smoking DOES cause cancer and YES, it is a disgusting habit. Sorry, no pulling punches on this one.

School’s Out!

Standard

Mary, the “mom”

I look forward to the end of the school year almost as much as my kids do. First and foremost, I look forward to sleeping past 5:40 on weekdays. But I also look forward to a break from worrying about all the assignments, tests, projects etc. (I know they’re not my responsibility, so why would I worry? See my earlier posts about micro-managing and you’ll get the picture!) And, believe it or not, I actually enjoy spending time with my kids when everyone is relaxed, as opposed to the normal weekday routine where everyone, including me, is stressed out.

Okay, so today’s the last day, at least for my high school student. Now what? He should have a summer job, but he doesn’t yet. (See Rach’s post about her summer job dilemma and you’ll get the idea.) Regardless of how much I enjoy spending relaxed time with him, it won’t take long for the sleeping til noon and hanging around all day to get on my nerves.

School’s Out! So, I’ve explained to him that I will have a list of extra chores for him to do around the house until he gets a summer job. I fear that I’m about to trade nagging about school work for nagging about chores. Which, of course, is in addition to nagging about a summer job.

What are your kids doing this summer? How do you handle the sudden wealth of free time?

Rach, the “teen”

The post about the summer job really helped me. It got me more motivated, and more willing to really look. I knew I needed to get one, so I answered an advertisement, went in for an interview and got a summer job. I did it because sitting around the house listening to my parent’s nag was the last thing I wanted, and it’s the last thing your kids want to.

I think the first week of summer (right after school lets out) is a great time to sleep in late, hang out with friends and get all that classic summer stuff done. Then it’s time to work.

Last summer, my dad employed me (for minimum wage) to repaint two big benches we keep outside. It took me the entire summer, but it kept me busy. I think chores like that are good for middle and high school students. One or two big simples “around the house” chore they can do.

Paint something, plant a new garden, weekly “all house” cleanings. Something that they can do when they want (flexible hours), but for a certain amount of hours a week (say, 10), and something that they have to do (for the money, for the responsibility, for the drive to the mall you promised them).

School’s Out!

It was hard painting those benches (yes, painting can be hard). But it was a good summer – because I made the rules about it. I got the work done, I felt responsible for the benches, and I got paid for it. With only a little nagging.

Brad, the “dad”

I guess I’m just the ol’ softy in the pack this time. Because I have seen how ridiculously hard the killings have been working this past year, on grades and friendships and special projects and community service, and I’m actually hearing myself saying, “Hey, it’s summer: take some time.”

Maybe I’m particularly easy on them this year because I can see the future. The Valkyrie will be heading off to college in exactly two months, and there are a work-study gig and 13 units waiting for her there. The Elf will be starting at an academically demanding high school in just a little more than that – the same school her sister just escaped from – and, as she’s been saying herself, once she gets there the grades and extra-curricular stuff really start to count.

In some ways, this is the Last Great Summer for both of them. Adulthood or a reasonable facsimile is just over the horizon. So if the Valk takes a month off (yeah, a month) to go road-tripping with her travelicious Mom, and the Elf spends a week or two (or three) doing little but sleeping in, going online and making art…okay. Just this once. Because from here on in, things are gonna get busier and more serious, and I want them to remember at least one more, one last, long, slow summer before the blitz begins.

Am I a fish in a barrel or what?