Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Hype

I really wish that I had enough energy to put together a post that wasn’t just a random collection of thoughts and links from the past week or so. However, that is about as likely as a week passing without some ridiculous story about Lindsay Lohan’s nightlife coming out. Seriously, we get it already. She’s out late…a lot. She drinks, does blow and bangs numerous members of the opposite sex a month. Big damn deal. What young person in Hollywood doesn’t? For that matter, what young person wouldn’t if they had all the same opportunities as she did? If you just raised your hand, well, you are a colossal fucking bore and would probably end up as a Scientologist. Anyway, if you’re annoyed that I haven’t written much of anything within the last week, then feel free to direct your comments to David J. Stern and his minions in the NBA Headquarters in New York. Good god, I’d even have trouble staying up for these games if I was still in college. Staying up till 2 am is cool here and there but it’s just ri-god-damn-diculous to do this to NBA fans every night for weeks on end. Oh well, at least the games have been worth the trouble.

Programming note: I’m not going to discuss any NBA Playoff action in this space until I can spend a little time organizing my thoughts on the various second round subplots. Look for that in tomorrow’s post. Again, all complaints go to David J. Stern.

- I’m sure a lot of people have seen this already (courtesy of deadspin). However, being the Cardinal fan that I am, I got an especially big kick out of this site.

- Any college football fan surely remembers former all-world recruit Xavier Carter. The Palm Bay native was the nation’s #1 Wide Receiver recruit two years ago. After a lengthy recruitment, Carter eventually chose LSU as his collegiate destination. Thus far, Carter hasn’t lived up to his prodigous billing during his stay in Baton Rouge. The most significant play made on the gridiron by Carter thus far was during his freshman year when he forgot the rules of football and scored a safety for UGA while he attempting to run backwards into the end zone for a touchback while returning a kickoff in Athens. It was an awful play in an equally awful performance by LSU in Athens. It’s been pretty quiet for Carter since then, at least during football season. As you may recall, one of the reasons that Carter was so highly recruited was his world class speed. It seems his speed is still his calling card, and still extremely world class.

- You know else is world class? Ron Zook…a world class jackass, of course.

- I'm sure you all know that Doug Flutie retired this week. What some of you may not know is that the Flutester attended the same junior high as me. That's right. Me and Doug Flutie. Yes, I'm a little surprised the entire school hasn't been bronzed yet either. Anyway, since Flutie is hanging up his step stool I figured I'd share a little anecdote that sums up one of the reasons why Flutie was able to defy the odds (and critics) for so long, his insane competitiveness. Flutie's parents have moved back to this area over the last decade or so. As a result, Flutie will often come back to visit during the holidays. A year or two ago, he showed up at the park to play ball early one Saturday morning. We've all heard about his ultra competitive streak. Though, regardless of how competitive one may be, can you really blame anyone for not talking to Rob Johnson? I digress. On this particular morning, Flutie came with a couple of other guys. They won the first game or two they played in. Eventually, my team made it on to the court to take on Flutie and his boys. As the game wore on, it became increasingly competitive and physical. Not anything out of the ordinary, just a tough game between two evenly matched teams who didn't want to lose. Late in the game, Flutie got the ball on the break. As he drove the lane, a older New Yorker named Mark jumped up and fouled Flutie to prevent his layup attempt. It wasn't a dirty foul but it was hard. Hard enough that Flutie took umbrage. He jumped up and got in Mark's face and said something to the effect of "you'd better not try that again". To which Mark replied, "What are you going to do you midget?". At this point I could barely contain my laughter. Not only was Fluite being called out, but by an old Italian mailman at that. Flutie then reached back and let fly with a vicous haymaker aimed towards Mark's face. He hit Mark with a glancing blow that seemed ready to set off a melee of midlife crisis sized proportions. Of course, some of the other guys on the court (Certainly not me. Are you kidding?) quickly got between Mark and Flutie in time to prevent what could've been one of the five greatest sporting moments of my life. Calm was eventually restored and Flutie decided to leave after his team lost the game, but not before Mark uttered the now infamous words, "Do you think I give a fuck if you're fucking Doug Flutie? Go the fuck back to Canada you bum!" Believe me when I tell you that it was a thousand times better than some dumb little drop kick.

Warning: Sports Reporters-esque parting shot.

I am one of the few people I know who legitimately loves boxing. I left the bar early on Saturday night (not that early mind you) in order to get home at a reasonable enough time to allow me to watch the Ricky Hatton fight on HBO that I had Tivo’d. While most of my friends could care less about the sport and would rather watch UFC, I still can’t get enough of good, high profile boxing. Why do I bring this up? Because, though I never saw him fight, I was a little saddened by the death of Floyd Patterson. Not sad in the traditional sense, more of a “sense of loss” for the sport of boxing itself. Anyway, I was watching a bunch of stuff on Patterson’s legacy when his battles with Sonny Liston and Muhammad Ali were mentioned. I found it amazing that Patterson chose to fight Liston (though he didn’t have to and was badly outweighed by Liston) because he felt like every fighter deserved a fair shot at the title. I also found it troubling that Ali had (evidently) continually taken shots at Patterson’s character when the two were preparing for their first match. Now, we all know that Ali was a master of trash talk, hell he practically invented the art as we know it. It’s part of his legacy. It’s what endeared him to so many during the prime of his career. It’s also what makes me hold a far different view of Ali than most. Maybe, I’m just a shortsighted jerk who doesn’t have enough sympathy for a great champion in the winter of his life. Maybe. If that’s the case, I’m fine with that.

I’m also fine with saying that I think Muhammad Ali was one of the biggest assholes that we’ve ever seen in athletics. This has jack to do with his political, religious, or racial viewpoints. In all actuality, I’m pretty comfortable with all these sides of Ali. What I find so distasteful about the man is the way he continually beat on his own people and played into racial stereotypes in order to further his image and build his wealth. He completely turned his back on Joe Frazier after Smokin’ Joe had given him money and helped him out during Ali’s ban from boxing. He labeled Frazier an “uncle tom” when he knew that to be criminally far from the truth. He also repeatedly referred to Frazier as a gorilla (even using a toy gorilla as his Joe Frazier puppet in numerous interviews) He used a lot of the similarly reprehensible tactics on Patterson. Calling him “a good negro” and promising to make Patterson “act black”. Can you imagine the uproar from the media if such taunts were trotted out today? Yet, somehow, all of this gets swept under the rug when Ali is mentioned.

Ali was certainly the greatest heavyweight of all-time and, more than likely, the greatest boxer ever. However, that doesn’t obscure the fact that he routinely stepped on anybody and everybody necessary in order to attain this level of greatness and notoriety. He has become a cultural icon and a beloved figure worldwide. A figure so beloved that he’s seemingly been given a free pass by all (even those who were around to witness his antics) as time has passed. He’s applauded and adored everywhere he goes. He’s hailed as a revolutionary figure. Somebody who changed the world and the landscape of sports. All of this is true. My question is, why do the media feel the need to leave out the other, much uglier, side of Ali? There are two stories to be told about Muhammad Ali, two very different stories. Sadly, we only hear the second story as a footnote to other people’s lives. We only hear the second story as an aside to some other tale of Ali’s triumphs. Is that because he won so dominantly? Because he captured the imagination like few (if any) boxers before or after him? Is it because he’s now a shell of his former bombastic self? I can’t say. What I can say is this: I don’t blindly celebrate Ali the man. I refuse too. I will celebrate him for his exquisite skill in the ring and his courage to stand up to antiquated social mores in the face of extreme pressure and racism. However, I won’t do this without taking time to remember a man who spit in the face of those who paved the way for him and helped him when he was down and out. There’s two sides to every story, it’s just too bad that everybody who could give us the other side of Ali’s story is too scared or too brainwashed to do it.

6 comments:

Greg said...

What do you think is better: Muhammad Ali in his prime....or anti-lock brakes?

Greg said...

For reasons undetermined, I went to a Go-Go's concert last night. All I can say is, "We got the beat!"

Mark said...

You and your work paramour are really moving fast, huh? The Go-Go's must be really despereate for some catchy material. Still though, I can't believe they had the audacity to steal the song from the Papa John's commercial. "We got the meat. Yeah!"

Mark said...

In his prime, Muhammad Ali was better than anti-lock brakes. If for no other reason than his amazing ability to stop speeding cars, trains, buses by simply pressing his feet to the ground.

Little known fact: He also invented Italian Ice during this time, by accident. Of course, the white man stole it for his own profit.

Greg said...

I didn't go with the office pump. Instead I went with 3 other dudes, one of whom is my boss.

It was a weird crowd. Tons of cougars. Piles of fat chicks. And, a few really hot chicks. No in-between.


When people discuss "best heavyweights of all time" Lennox Lewis never comes up. But I'd put him in the top 3.

Mark said...

He should come up but will probably suffer in the light of history for a few reasons. (1) He's British/Canadian, (2)he fought at a time when the Heavyweight division was pretty diluted in terms of overall talent, and (3)crusty old boxing scribes (90% of boxing scribes) don't love him because he wasn't a brawler/huge knockout guy or a technical marvel. He was simply a very proficient boxer who understood the nuances of the sport and how to best fight towards his advantages. Maybe he'll get more love from the media as time wears on, but I doubt it.