Month: March 2015

A Star-Studded Affair

Boy, oh boy, the election season is beginning to heat up!  Ted Cruz (who you might remember as the net neutrality hating guy) has recently announced he will run for president in the 2016 election.  Rand Paul is allegedly set to announce his candidacy in April and Marco Rubio is apparently seeking a run at the presidency as well.

That means the GOP is gonna get heated next year.

You see, and I might be brash to call this now, but in all likelihood the winner of the GOP primary is probably going to be your next President of the United States.  If you’re a Democrat and reading this, I apologize, but if you examine history, every President since FDR that’s served two terms has seen his opponent’s party win the presidency in the next election.  George Dubbya?  Two terms.  Republican.  Clinton before him? Two terms, Democrat.  Daddy Bush, one term, but before him Reagan served two terms and before him Jimmy Carter, a Democrat was in office and this process repeats itself several more times.  So, President Obama, a Democrat wrapping up his second term, likely won’t be welcoming a fellow blue-blood into his ranks in 2016.

And honestly, the strongest candidate for the Democrats is Hillary Clinton, but her recent string of scandalous scandals might hurt her chances a little bit.

As far as the GOP goes, you have Cruz and Paul, who are pretty much locks to run for president and the possibility exists of Rubio, the Republican party’s golden boy, seeking nomination while fellow Floridan politician Jeb Bush seeks to turn his family into the greatest dynasty since the Chicago Bulls.  If these four guys actually all announce their candidacy, then the GOP turns into an absolutely star-studded affair.  If you literally sat down, right now, and conducted a search for the current “who’s who” of the Republican party, you’re going to have a hard time coming up with more notorious names than the four of them.

I guess with all things considered, I’m going to go ahead and predict who will win the Republican nomination for the 2016 Presidential Election.

Candidate #1 – Ted Cruz

If you look at that photo and say, “wow, that dude really needs to fart”, then that’s odd because I thought the exact same thing.  And to be honest, that’s the best picture of him I could find.  Dude always looks like he’s holding in a fart.  And, as Americans, we enjoy a democracy, meaning we can choose to vote, or not vote, for a guy that looks like he has to fart all the time.  This man is a red-blooded, abortion-outlawin’, gay-hatin’, gun-lovin’ born and bred Texan who actually wasn’t born in Texas at all.  As the descendant of a Cuban father born in Canada, Cruz is probably going to be on the receiving end of some “where’s your birth certificate jokes” from haughty liberals.  As I mentioned, he doesn’t support net neutrality, but you can’t really fault him when he just wants to keep your government out of his Netflix.  Can’t fault him one bit.  He also vehemently expressed his displeasure with Obama care, only to recently sign his family up for Obama care, a move made necessary by the fact his wife quit her job to support his campaign and apparently the state of Texas follows a strict “Old Yeller” motif for their acting U.S. Senators.  He holds degrees from Princeton and Harvard and is a practicing Southern Baptist (think giant scary Joel Osteen churches).

His chances:

Probably not too bad, but he’s certainly not your frontrunner.  Some consider him too Republican, and the changing political landscape pretty much prevents prospective candidates from being too-anything.  He also vows to “secure the US borders” which is an extraordinarily ironic statement considering his father is a Cuban immigrant that became a naturalized citizen. But oh well, maybe I’m the one splitting hairs.

Candidate #2 – Marco Rubio

Ah yes, the Crown Prince of the Tea Party movement.  The perfect hair, glowing smile, and he’s just Hispanic enough where it counts as being interesting, but not so much where he’s dangerous.  He’s somewhere between Michael Pena and Danny Trejo, and that fact is just fine with a Republican Party who seems set on supporting this somehow 43-year old star of the show.  Like Cruz, Rubio comes from a Cuban background as both of his parents immigrated to the US before becoming naturalized citizens.  He nails everything a Republican voter could want; he supports a flat tax rate while opposing capital gains, he’s pro-life, a second amendment supporter, and he HATES terrorism (which is an attribute all parties should probably share).  However, he really, really doesn’t like the idea of climate change, and has fully denied any human impact has caused climate change.  The American Conservative Union awarded him with a 100 “Conservative Rating” and presumably a bust of Ronald Reagan.

His chances:

Probably pretty good.  Like I said, his party loves him and he is actively seeking the support of the Latino community, a group which could potentially shift the power of an election.  However, like Cruz, the argument could be made that Rubio is “too Republican” and would alienate independent or swing-voters.  He wife is also a former Dolphins cheerleader, so there’s that, too.  Just saying.

Candidate #3 – Jeb Bush

The younger brother of George W. Bush and the Bush family’s Malcolm in the Middle, Jeb Bush served for eight years as the governor of Florida, which is a whole eight years longer than anyone has ever wanted to hold that position.  Jeb, despite looking every bit like a high school chemistry teacher, actually took up Latin Studies at the University of Texas and probably has the weakest educational background of all the candidates.  Sure, it’s not a shiny J.D. from Harvard, but it’s better than a cosmetology degree from a vocational school.  Anyway, Bush is pretty much as Bush as you can imagine, and despite his lack of solid educational background it’s hard to argue anyone is more qualified for the job than him, considering both his dad and big brother serves a combined 12 years as Commander-in-Chief.

His chances:

Probably not great.  Papa Bush only served one forgettable term while Dubbya looked to be on his way to the political record books after his handling of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, only to have everyone completely forget all the good his did in his first term by having a disastrous second stint, punctuated by a botched response to Hurricane Katrina.  His long-lost cousin Reggie Bush had to forfeit his Heisman, so there’s that to deal with too.  The American public is probably tired of seeing so much Bush at this point.

Candidate #4 – Rand Paul

Paul is a U.S. Senator from Kentucky (born in Pittsburgh) and is the son of the ever-eccentric Ron Paul.  He’s actually a practicing ophthalmologist, and operated a practice in Kentucky, so he followed in his father’s footsteps by first pursuing a noble medical career only to give it up in favor of becoming a slimy politician.  That’s really not fair to say, because by every account the only unlikable quality Paul has is the fact he attended Duke University, which should instantly make you disdain anyone slightly more (with the notable exception of Ken Jeong).  He’s pretty Republican, but not that Republican.  He supports a flat tax and seems to adopt more traditionally Republican fiscal viewpoints, but from a social standpoint his views are far from unfair.  He’s personally opposed to gay marriage; but believes a Federal law prohibiting the right is unconstitutional and therefore thinks it’s best for each state to decide.  He opposed the use of marijuana, but supports the state’s decisions, and also supports the use of medical marijuana.  Most notably, he adopts a noninterventionalist policy regarding foreign affairs, while is a decidedly un-Republican thing to do (on the surface, at least).  So, it’s not as if a John McCain clone and his horrifying war stories are going to bat again, but Paul seems more focused on a goal than Mitt Romney did.

His chances:

The best.  In fact, I’m calling it now: Rand Paul is your Republican nominee!  Of course, many Republican voters want to see their guy be totally Republican, but at the end of the day when the views on fiscal issues line up usually the voters will bite the bullet and cast their ballot.  By remaining somewhat reasonably socially independent, Paul isn’t aligning his views too far to the right side, while makes him an appealing choice for fringe voters.

Of course, if Donald Trump seeks nomination, the United States as we know it is screwed and everyone should probably pack it in and head to Canada.

More people who did awful things

Today, ex-NFL star Darren Sharper was sentenced to at least nine years in prison for the role he played in a string of sexual assaults that occurred in several states.  Of course, the nine years is a bit of a slap on the wrist, but it also pretty much ensures Sharper, a six-time All-Pro and one of the greatest safeties in NFL history, will be remembered as a rapist.

Unfortunately, several other notable folks have committed pretty heinous acts, and it seems as if their transgressions are entirely forgotten.  Well, I guess I’ll take that as my cue to remind everyone that:

Eric Clapton hates everyone who isn’t white

Eric Clapton, for all intents and purposes, is one of the most influential musicians of all time, with some of his works among the most important contributions to rock and roll as a genre.  Rolling Stone has recognized him as one of the greatest guitarists in history, and several of his songs have been included in many “best of” lists.

Clapton was also profoundly racist.  During a concert in 1976, Clapton took the opportunity between songs to candidly discuss his feelings regarding immigration and to give his support for Enoch Powell, a very, *ahem* “controversial” figure in his own right.  A visibly intoxicated Clapton went on to claim that he’s “into racism” and “England is a white country and black wogs or coons aren’t allowed in….keep England white!”  He also stated, “we need to make it clear they aren’t welcome.”

This was 1976, and if you’re into geopolitics you’re probably aware that the Muslim immigration in European countries is a pretty divisive issue (think Mexican immigration here).  In fact, the shootings in Oslo several years ago were committed by a man who was said to be protesting the acceptance of Middle Eastern or Asian immigrants into “white” countries like Norway.  So, Clapton saying “we need to make it clear they aren’t welcome” isn’t exactly a drunken stupor as much as a disturbing morbid suggestion.  Of course, Clapton has recanted part of his rant, stating he’s not racist but still supports Powell’s politics, although since the term “wog” is considered derogatory, it doesn’t seem as if his rant came from a place of light-hearted, albeit dark humor.

Winston Churchill supported gassing the “uncivilized”

There is perhaps no greater symbol of modern English ideals than Winston Churchill’s wrinkled mug.  He was brash, blunt, opinionated, and tough; all qualities which made him the perfect person to guide Great Britain through World War II.  Although his politics were sometimes called into question and his popularity waned in his later years, he’s still remembered (at least in America) as one of the good guys who helped steer the Allied ship in the right direction to secure a victory in the second World War.

He also made a comment that was dangerously close to being Nazi-ish; the worst “ish” you can be.  Let’s backtrack to 1920 during the Iraqi revolt against Great Britain: You see, Britain was having a great deal of trouble with those pesky Iraqi’s and their revolt, so they (allegedly) used tear gas to qualm the uprising.  Churchill, apparently, fully supported this notion stating “I am strongly in favor of using poisonous gas against uncivilized tribes” which is the perfect example of a sentence that gets progressively more disturbing as you read.

Today, the use of gases in this sense would be considered chemical warfare, which is actually outlawed by the Geneva Convention.  So in a rule book containing the appropriate ways to kill a sworn, hated enemy, even belligerents can agree poisonous gas is too cruel to use on foes.  And let’s not forget the guys Churchill was fighting in the 1940’s; the Nazi regime utilized poisonous gases in their death camps on the way to the extermination of over 11 million people.

Chris Berman flips out on his crew

If there’s a sportscaster who possess the instant national recognition of Chris Berman, their name is escaping me.  Berman has a one of a kind voice that just seems perfect for sports and he has a proclivity for adding hilarious and appropriate catch phrases to sports highlights.  And to top it all off, he has the demeanor of your single uncle or best friend’s dad; an easy-going everyman who just enjoys talking about sports.

Unless, of course, you screw with his broadcast.

It’s worth remembering the on-air personas portrayed by television personalities are tailor-made to apply to a massive audience.  When Michael Irvin or Keyshawn Johnson say they are “mad as heck” they are uttering that phrase with such disdain and unorganic enthusiasm you can usually see them visibly squirm.  Ray Lewis killed a guy and had to pretend to be offended when he found out about Ray Rice Mike Tyson-ing his wife in an elevator and Warren Sapp was employed FOR YEARS by the NFL Network, doing game analysis by day and beating up prostitutes by night like a sexist Batman.  Chris Berman is a professional, and although he comes off as a nice guy, sometimes he has bad moments behind the camera.

In 1998 during a segment, someone had the audacity to accidentally walk in front of the teleprompter during Berman’s monologue.  Once the commercial break hit, it was on.  Herman exploded on his colleagues unleashing a plethora of unsightly language, put-downs, idle threats, and neck sweat.  He belittled his crew by questioning their qualifications, their ability to conceptualize thoughts, and even took the Lord’s name in vain several times.  ESPN (his employer) has denounced his actions, but hey, they happened off camera, so it’s not really their problem.

Charles Dickens was pretty much the perfect deadbeat dad

Charles Dickens is a literary icon, with works such as Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, and the Tale of Two Cities residing in the annals of some of the greatest books every written.  He was a master story-teller who utilized satire, fiction, realism, or free writing within his narratives and he went on to influence wave after wave of writers.  Dickens was also, apparently, extremely fertile, as he injected his female companion (more on that later) with the seed of 10 offspring.

Unfortunately for Dickens, he wasn’t really interested in being a “family man”, which is a complication which becomes exponentially more difficult when 10 children are tossed into the fray.  By all accounts, Dickens was an overly harsh disciplinarian who lacked a complete interest and inability in communicating with his children.  The two factions harbored mutual resentment until Dickens ran away with a young actress (27 years his junior) and then died.  Not, like, right away, but he died.  He did outlive one of his sons, but didn’t bother to send a letter of condolence, much less attend the funeral.  After leaving his family, he was said to have sent two or three letters to his kin, and after his death willed some money to two of his nine remaining children and a yearly stipend of $600 to his wife.

Mark Wahlberg was a dangerous, maniacal bully

Mark Wahlberg, at this point in his career, as achieved a level of fame and mass appeal so widespread both your six-year-old niece and 80-year old grandmother are aware of who Marky Mark is.  In fact, Wahlberg seemed to come from nowhere in the 90’s as an underwear model turned musician turned actor, and now Wahlberg is a well-respected, Academy Award-nominated powerhouse who serves as a good example of how the modern male should carry himself.  You know, expect for the fact he throws rocks at black kids and almost beat a Vietnamese man to death.

At the ripe age of 15 when most kids are throwing rocks at moving cars, Wahlberg was doing the same thing, except the cars were black kids and instead of innocent laughter he was hurling out horrible racial slurs.  But Wahlberg is 43 now, so a mistake like that is really relatively benign, provided he’s learned from his mistakes, of course.

However, one year later Wahlberg took his act from “stupid kid” to “mentally disturbed” adult, as he committed an unprovoked assault of a Vietnamese man in Boston.  Using a stick, Wahlberg beat this man to literally within inches of his life, and he’s pretty lucky he didn’t kill him since he referred to him as a “slanty eyed-gook”, so if this man would’ve passed away it’s likely Marky Mark would’ve been hit with a hate crime on top of a first degree murder charge.  Instead, Wahlberg was charged with attempted murder and went on to serve a long, harrowing, thought-provoking, soul-searching 45- day jail sentence.  Apparently you can get way with anything if you’re under 18.

This was fun; I think I’ll revisit this topic another time.  As long as there’s famous people, they are likely doing horrible things that we ultimately forget.

Things I’ve learned whilst engaged in mindless activities

Despite working two jobs and being a full-time graduate student, it seems like I have an alarming amount of free time.  With the free time, I’m sure to stimulate my mind with important, worldly activities such as reading poetry, managing my retirement, planting a garden, and lying about doing those things.  It seems like most of my free time is spent either reading Wikipedia or playing video games, which is kind of what happens when you’re 23 and lacking a career.

Anyway, I’m sure not to waste these experiences.  Sure, playing video games for four hours might be considered “mindless”, but I always try to extract as much usefulness as I can from performing mindless tasks.

6.  Online gaming has taught me a lot about humanity

There have been numerous studies which suggests online users don’t typically take responsibility for their actions, or they consider online interactions reasonably meaningless.  The cloak of anonymity allows internet users a metaphorical, seemingly all-encompassing and invincible set of armor that lets them spew forth hate speech, obscenity, and support of Rick Perry.  Of course, most people are aware of “internet trolls” or users who patrol the YouTube comments section to suggest other users perform incestuous acts with their own grandfathers or ask for unsolicited donations for the “you mom is fat” club.  In video games, this realm exists as well.  You see, the induction of online gaming has allowed players from all over the world to come closer together via their consoles and experience the vast, amazing world of 2015 video gaming together.  And people use this gift, of course, to spew insults and racist hate speech.  But, I’m not going to even touch on that, because I’m a believer most people aren’t inherently stupid, they just like attention.  The reason I lose faith in humanity when playing games online, simply put, is because I observe fellow humans reverting to a childlike state of selfishness and cowardice.

I play FIFA a lot, mainly because it’s the only game I’m actually good enough to play against other people online and win.  While the core of the game, much like actual soccer, is “kick the ball in the net”, the creators over at EA realized this could get boring, so they adopted several game modes and models to keep people interested.  One of these game modes is called “Online Pro”. Okay, this is going to take some explaining:  You go online, and you create a pro.  Now that that’s over, the game mode is interesting because it allows your player to play simply as an individual while other individual players (who you’re usually matched with online) comprise the remainder of the team.  As you can probably see, this creates some notable problems.  When you’re playing FIFA with one or two people, you have control of the entire team, so it’s a lot easier to make things run smoothly.  When you are relying on strangers to act as a team, it NEVER works.  The problem with “Online Pro” is there is literally no rewards for winning if you’re placed into a random match.  Personal stats are the only thing that matters, meaning the issues of playing with a team are wholly irrelevant.  Now, if you’re familiar with soccer, you are probably aware it’s important to pass the ball to teammates, pace yourself, and not be an idiot.  Each of these qualities is entirely ignored in “Online Pro”, as your “teammates” swarm the ball, run around the entirety of the field, and pull their goalies for inappropriate plays.  This game mode has fully reinforced my believe that humanity is deteriorating at such a rate that individuals would rather take something directly from my feet than wait for me to pass it to them.

That entry got a little ranty.  Probably shouldn’t have played FIFA before I wrote this.  Anyway..

5.  Driving ranges are where sanity goes to die

I really enjoy playing golf, but I enjoy it even more when I’m good at it.  Since it’s relatively impractical to play golf everyday, it’s usually necessary to refine your game through other means.  Since most of golf is nailing down the technical aspects and then adhering to a routine, there’s no better way to practice than through repetition, which usually involves hitting a hundred or so balls at the local driving range.  It’s also a great way to mindlessly kill part of an afternoon.

There’s two types of driving ranges; the one located at your club or the one at an independent locale.  If you’re at the local course or country club, chances are the place has a designated driving range.  This is the place to be.  You can hit from a real surface, mingle with fellow golfers, smell the freshly cut grass of the course, and just generally observe your surroundings.  The independent locale is not this.

For starters if you ever go to an independent locale, there is a 100% chance that at least half of the participants are wearing jeans.  Jeans are not golf clothes.  This is the equivalent of someone wearing a t-shirt to the local swimming pool or Crocs literally anywhere. Additionally, there’s usually a staggering abundance of unsupervised children.  This thought should terrify you, me, and the owners of the range because I’m certain I could probably kill a child with my backswing.  Not concerned about the death of their child?  The parents of said child, who are usually smoking and/or drinking, which you might recognize as “things that aren’t allowed at a driving range”.  In my last couple trips to my local driving range, I’ve also noticed many individuals who talk to themselves as they hit balls.  Don’t get me wrong, I issue idle threats to myself all the time on the golf course, but I tend to keep those ramblings internal.  I’m not lying when I say I witnessed a man utter the term “come on” 13 times during my last trip to the range, and I know it’s that many because I counted.  When I completed my bucket and exited my tee, he asked if I wanted to take some balls from a bucket he found at another tee.  I kindly declined this strangers request to steal someone else’s golf balls because I’m not a maniac.

4.  I should probably enjoy not caring about my appearance while I can

I can’t grow a good beard.  For like a day, my facial hair looks good as short stubble, but after that it grows into a horrific patchy nightmare that would make Andrew Luck question my beard growing skills.  However, I don’t care.  I write for a website online, I attend graduate school, and I work in a restaurant.  I’m already married, my job search is active but not conclusive yet, and for now I have no one to impress.  When you add all of these facts up you arrive at this conclusion; I can look as gross as I want.  Today, for example, marks my second week without shaving my face.  For most actual male humans, two weeks of not shaving will grace their eager, fresh faces with a glorious plethora of fur, ending with a spectacular, manly beard.  For me, two weeks of not shaving gives me the facial equivalent of a balding man’s comb over.

Fortunately for me, I’m still young, without a career, and active in my education.  So, I can still afford to neglect my appearance on a day by day basis and not lose any of my overall self-worth.  Don’t get me wrong, I love fashion and looking nice, but sometimes throwing a nice outfit distracts people from the hairy disaster on your face.  Likewise, I enjoy juxtaposing my facial appearance with my wardrobe, so of I do shave, I’ll probably wear sweatpants a lot.  In fact, last week I wore the same pair of sweatpants and Wu-Tang clan t-shirt around my apartment for three consecutive days.  I woke up, put on those clothes, did chores, changed clothes to run errands, and then changed right back into my trusty sweats.  I think I’m at the point in my life where I’m keeping a t-shirt in rotation until it either A) emits a notable odor (in which case that’s still up for debate) or B) it has a visible stain (and even then the term ‘visible’ is open to a shocking degree of subjectivity).

I’ve learned I should probably enjoy being gross while I can before I have to start looking nice everyday.

3.  Netflix is the devil

The school where I earned by undergraduate degree had a 48% four-year graduation rate, and I’m 100% percent certain Netflix contributed to those numbers.  Before Netflix we invented fire, won two World Wars, discovered space travel, and made Forrest Gump.  Since Netflix has been invented the overall productivity of the human race has decreased, but boy oh boy is it worth it.  Did you know right now, as you’re reading this, you can go on Netflix, right now, and watch Courage the Cowardly Dog?  How is our government still functioning?  How are people actually graduating from college.  Prospective employers, the fact that Netflix exists and people STILL come to work should speak very, very highly of their character.

And Netflix knows what it’s doing.  They intentionally put out new, amazing content based on how society will react.  Most of their viewing audience is people my age.  If you put old episodes of Pokemon, the Power Rangers, and the Magic School bus on Netflix, they aren’t anticipating current 5-10 year old kids watching; they are intentionally appealing to those in my age demographic; the ones seeking jobs, beginning careers, or finishing school.  It’s an extraordinarily insidious move, Netflix.  What’s worse, is they have “recommendations” based on what I watched.  “I see you liked this documentary about Columbine, how about something about the early 90’s Detroit Pistons?”  OF COURSE I WANNA SEE THAT, NETFLIX! I STILL HATE BILL LAMBEIR AND ISAIAH THOMAS!  And Netflix owns, in my opinion, the most evil invention of all time: the automatic play next system.  Let’s say you want to sit down and watch a couple episodes of Breaking Bad, just for posterity.  You finish an episode, and then during the credits Netflix interjects with a screen displaying the plot synopsis of the next episode, as well as a timer until the next episode will play.  You can’t expect me not to watch the Heavy Freight episode, Netflix.  So, you began your crusade by innocently sitting down to watch an episode of two of Breaking Bad, but now it’s 4:30 in the morning and you’ve burned through most of season five.

2.  Naps have gone from necessity, to guilty pleasure, back to necessity, and now to just guilty.

As children, we take naps because we have to.  When we are teenagers naps become a great tool, but a source of utter deniability because being caught sleeping as a teenager is apparently an admission of weakness.  In the college years, naps again revert back to necessity and then once you end college, the idea of nap time is a foreign concept until death. Unless, of course, you have time.

I’m aware this is a habit I need to break, and I’m not even sure if it’s normal, but my sleeping schedule is pretty different than normal.  I usually stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning and wake up around 9 or 9:30.  I take a multivitamin for breakfast, each lunch around 2 or 3, and then dinner at 6.  I realize I need to reset my body clock to a more workable time, but for now, that’s what works for me.  However, since most of my free time is spent either writing, completing school work, or listening to racist teenagers besmirch my anatomy in video games, I sometimes find myself able to take naps.  And I HATE this.  Don’t get me wrong, naps are awesome, but heroin users probably think heroin is awesome and that doesn’t mean it’s a good thing to do.  I am actively searching for a career and I like to spend much of my time researching positions are doing stuff like this to keep my craft sharp, but sometimes I’m wont to fall asleep.  As normal people are sitting in rush hour, once a week I’m knocked out on my couch for over an hour.  And this sucks because I feel like it’s a complete waste of time.  I always feel guilty waking up from a nap, because I instantly become aware my time could’ve been spent doing something else.  I really don’t even get pleasure in it anymore, because lost productivity at this point in my life sucks.

1.  When the activities are mindless, your mind wonders.

As bored as I sometimes get, I think it’s the boredom itself that makes me most bored.  BRB, my brain exploded.

I guess what I mean by the vaguely moronic sentence is that when I’m forced to keep my mind occupied, sometimes it goes places I prefer it doesn’t.  Usually, I’m thinking about my future.  If you’re reading this and still in high school, remember this: it’s okay if you don’t know what to do with your life, but adulthood sneaks up on you really fast.  It seems like only yesterday I was skipping my sophomore level Earth Science class because the professor didn’t take attendance, and yet, here I am, constantly wondering where my career search will take me.  Thank god I’ve already got the marriage thing figured out.  That makes things a lot easier, and I’ve already accepted she will make vastly more money than me someday, and she’s not going to have trouble finding a job.  But, I’m at the point in my life where I have a year of graduate school left, but I’m ready to start a 40-hour a week career.  I don’t have that now, so it forces my mind to constantly wonder.  When will I get a job?  What if I can’t pay my bills?  One of my best friends just bought a house.  I want to buy a house someday, but I can’t do that writing part-time for a website.

I’m aware these last two entries have taken a decidedly depressing turn, but I hope anyone reading (especially this last entry) will take my words to heart.  Blink-182 once said “nobody likes you when you’re 23”, and I’m finding this is undeniably true.  I’m not saying cops constantly tase me and old ladies pepper spray my horrible unshaven face, but I’m saying your early 20’s kind of blow because you’re stuck in a collegiate mentality where you still think almost as a teenager, but you’re stuck with adult responsibilities and the existential crisis of securing long-term employment and figuring out the rest of your life.  But, I guess constantly dealing with the burden of adulthood makes you a better adult.

And you know what, I don’t think I’ve ever been happier.

Dear prospective employers,

As I inch towards my tentative Spring 2016 graduation date, it’s becoming abundantly clear I should probably solve the “what I want to be when I grow up” conundrum.  Sadly, I’m almost 24-years old, a number which most people will recognize as “already grown up, idiot,” meaning I really should probably get the ball rolling.

With that being said, I have already begun the “ball-rolling” phase of my prospective career hunt, tidying up my impeccable (cough, cough) resume and attempting to hone my writing skills on this poorly written blog.  You see, it seems as if many employers (especially in my field) are interested in a candidate’s ability to perform some outside function, like social media, blogging, creative design work, and maybe even how nice their hair looks with pomade.

So, prospective employers who I hope found their way to my blog, I would like to welcome you to my personal little writing space here, and I’d like to highlight my abilities as to why I would make an awesome employee.

1.  I’m pretty good at golf.

I like to lead off with this because I consider it a worthy skill.  As soon as high school ended and I realized my athletic career had come to an abrupt, unceremonious halt, I began to plan for my future; how would I fill this athletic void?  For a few years, it was by playing intramural sports in college, collecting a pair of soccer championships while failing miserably in both dodgeball and flag football. I also dabbled in playing basketball at the local rec center or church leagues, but honestly you can only watch grown men almost fight each other so many times before you realize team sports probably aren’t going to be a big part of your future, although the aforementioned awkward, flabby man battles provided endless hilarity.  So, I ended up learning to play golf.  For an entire summer, I probably played four times a week, and I actually got pretty good.  I usually hover around the mid to low-80’s, but I’ve hit like 74 or so before, meaning I’m decent enough to hang with upper management, but I certainly won’t be showing up the boss, especially since I still struggle with my low irons.  God, I hate those low irons.

2.  I write good.

Just kidding.  I mean the headline, not my writing ability.  I write WELL.  Oh god, I probably ruined myself.  But yeah, I pride myself on my writing ability.  Sure, there’s some errors in my blog, but I feel that provides a more raw, honest look at my artistry, and by that I mean I didn’t proofread my blog before submitting.  There’s an extremely incriminating sentence.  Seriously, though, when I’m not totally messing around (which is mostly what I do on this blog) my writing is sharp, concise, polished, and technically sound.  I have an eye for grammar and spelling mistakes, I’m experienced in the craft, and I do take it seriously when I need to.  But, when I’m writing about Jeb Bush’s forehead (or five head, amiright?!) or discussing the societal ramifications of the nuances of “Space Jam” I tend to be a little more lax in my editorial abilities.

3. Things that make me special

This is my favorite question ever.  Well, second favorite.  My favorite question ever would be, “Mr. Sager, how many chocolate cakes would you like stuffed into this golden Range Rover.”  Recently, I’ve noticed a growing trend of job applications asking the applicant “what makes them special.”  And I love this tactic because it allows a job-seeker the chance to make a good impression on a more personalized level.  However, I feel like some people aren’t taking full advantage of this wonderful tool.  Most people will take this opportunity to say “I’m a hard worker” or “I probably won’t stab you.”  Instead, people should really try to stand out.  “What makes me special?  That’s easy: When I was in fourth grade I dressed up as Wyatt Earp for my school’s ‘Western Day’, and the only reason I knew who Kurt Russell was is because I saw him in ‘Tombstone'”.  That’s a response that’s going to elicit some questions:

“Why was this young man’s school glamorizing old Western criminals?”

“Why would his parents allow him to watch Tombstone?”

“Tombstone was the one with Sam Elliot and Val Kilmer, right?”

“Do you think he wore a fake mustache?”

My teacher had a weird western fetish, my parents trusted that I wouldn’t become a serial killer, yes, and of course I wore a fake mustache, and I rocked it silly.

4. I’m a leader

My dad is an important figure in my life, considering the source of most of my terrible jokes are the result of ridiculous jokes he told when I was younger.  But more than anything, there are certain bits of advice he told me that stuck with me forever: “Offense sells tickets, defense wins championships” (ask the Patriots about that one, dad).  “Work hard now or work hard the rest of your life”(he told me this when I was like 14, but I didn’t honor it until I started college).  And, of course, “be a leader, not a follower.”

That last one is a tough one to hear as a kid.  As a child, your mentality is always to follow the crowd, because being an individual is frowned upon and turns you into a social outcast.  And honestly, for a while, I ignored this advice.  It wasn’t until I was probably about 17 or so when I finally stopped caring what others thought and I started thinking for myself.  This realization sort opened my eyes to leadership.  I mean, I guess I’m a believer that people are born with leadership traits, but I can say mine were definitely dormant for the first 17 or 18 years of my life.  When I started college, I noticed myself taking charge of group projects, and the leadership even paid off in my work setting, as I was promptly promoted to manager at the pizza restaurant where I worked, a position I inherited after only a year with the company just after my 20th birthday.  I really consider myself a natural leader, and I pride myself on my ability to take charge and complete tasks with efficiency, accuracy, and timeliness.

5.  I’m confident, but not arrogant

Another dad story:  When I played soccer as a young lad, my dad coaches my youth teams, as well as traveling tournament teams during my high school years.  I remember one specific incident, in the league championship game in my youth soccer league when I was 12, and I’ll never forget it.  There was probably about 10 or so minutes left in the game, and my team was trailing 5-4.  I usually played striker, but since this was the championship my dad made me play goalie.  However, a foul occurred in the other team’s penalty box with under 10 minutes left, and my team was awarded a penalty kick.  Being the typical “coaches kid” I yelled to the sidelines for my dad to let me take the shot.  If you don’t follow soccer, the goalie taking a penalty kick is a ludicrously unbelievable scenario.  If I missed the shot, the opposing team would more of less have a wide open lane and goal to shoot at, which would’ve ended the game.  I didn’t care; I wanted to take that shot, because the only one I trusted to score the goal was me.  And trust me, my dad was not the type of coach to play favorites. I got no special treatment, and in fact I was probably judged harsher than anyone.  However, my dad told me to go take the shot, and I scored, tying the game, and we later went on to win.  Obviously, this example is a little irrelevant when it comes to the professional world, but that mentality has never changed for me; I want the pressure, I want to be the problem solver, and I want the “ball in my hands”, so to speak.  I welcome big challenges, I’m confident in my abilities to complete tasks (no matter how difficult), and I’m always seeking to maximize accomplishments.

6.  I take whatever I do seriously, but come on.

As I’ve sort of hinted at, I’m pretty meticulous when it comes to professionalism.  I seek to challenge myself, I thrive in a pressure situation, I welcome leadership roles, and I’m a relentless worker when it comes to the completion of tasks.  That being said, I think it’s sort of imperative to allow the mind some breathing room.  I’m not the type of person to be a mindless drone when it comes to work related tasks, and I always seek to keep things light, if appropriate.  I’ve worked in a restaurant setting for the past seven years, and restaurant workers have a funny way of utterly losing their minds when things get hectic.  I’ve witnessed bouts of uncontrollable swearing, near-physical altercations, mental breakdowns, and people leaving in the middle of a busy rush.  It happens.  And of course, when things pick up people get stressed out, and many people take pride in their work, so they get frustrated and break down because their passionate about what they do.  I’ve always prided myself in attempting to keep the ship afloat in such scenarios, and often times that involves keeping things light.  For instance, I work in a fast-paced, high grossing kitchen that sees literally hundreds of orders come through an hour, and the staff tends to get slightly worked up sometimes.  When I sense coworkers are frustrated or on the verge of utter meltdowns, I try to keep things light.  So, since I work in an all-male kitchen instead of shouting “Hey, get this food out of here right now!” I’ll say, “Let’s send out those fries, you big sexy man.”  I don’t constantly make jokes or vaguely homoerotic comments, but I am great at keeping coworkers’ morale up and boosting team productivity.

7.  I promise you will like me.

People hated John F. Kennedy because he was a womanizer who almost blew up the world because he wouldn’t leave Cuba alone.  People hate Barack Obama and John Boehner because they are Democrats and Republicans.  And people hate Richard Sherman because he’s the biggest idiot on the face of the planet, but he is the best at what he does.  If Richard Sherman was JFK’s bodyguard that bullet never would’ve even came near him.  But usually it’s the brash, opinionated, standoffish folks who illicit hatred, not the meek, kindly folks like Betty White or everyone’s slightly racist grandmothers.  I fall somewhere between Richard Sherman and Betty White.  I will never, ever get into a political debate with you, but I’m also never going to bake you cookies and read you a bedtime story.  I will, however, do my best to learn from you, get the best out of coworkers, and when I say I’ll watch that “totally hilarious” video on YouTube later, I actually will (like 30% of the time).  I’m personable, yet professional, and I’m confident, yet down to earth.  I don’t like being asked about my strengths because I would prefer to demonstrate them, and I can’t tell you my weaknesses because I’m afraid if I do you will dump a jar of spiders on my face.  I’m not the most accomplished or qualified, but you won’t find a harder worker, and I’m not the most knowledgeable, but you won’t find someone as willing to take direction and ask questions.

If any prospective employers read this, I hope you actually enjoyed my writing.  If not, I hope you will still consider me for the job anyway.

Regards,

Dan

How to tell if you’re an idiot: NFL free agency edition

I’ve always really enjoyed judging the character of people from afar.  Sure, that’s a pretty cynical, borderline sociopathic thing to say, but it’s a theory that makes sense.  I mean, we are really kind of wont to judge a book by its cover.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand someone might be having a bad day and might potentially be demonstrating a particularity negative portrayal of themselves in a false light.  Yeah, being a jerk at the bank isn’t a good look for anyone, but sometimes you catch someone at the end of their rope when they can’t contain extreme emotion anymore.  But, I’ve usually found you can reasonably ascertain someone’s character through mild observation, so for the sake of argument I’m going to discuss this topic at length.

People often perform rituals that, for better to worse, make them look like morons.  And by rituals, I mean ritualistically torching a professional athlete’s jersey because they leave your favorite team.

In some countries (mostly America) people (mostly Americans) have taking to burning (mostly American) flags to express their displeasure with a particular regime, government entity, or for patriotic kindling.  But it’s usually a source of disdain.  Some folks have taken this ritual a step further by making it applicable to professional athletes.  And since lighting a person on fire is a felony in most jurisdictions, the public has adopted jersey burning as their preferred form of protest.

Torching jerseys seemed to really hit the mainstream when LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat back in 2010.  After King James selfishly and maliciously left the warm, paradise of Cleveland for the desolate Hell on earth that is Miami, Fla., many of the townspeople took to the street to nonverbally tell the King how they felt: “Traitor!”, people yelled as they doused replica LeBron jerseys in lighter fluid and then burned them to a crisp.  All because this selfish, arrogant athlete decided to seek a brighter future for himself and his family.  How dare he leave a city so filthy the river has repeated CAUGHT FIRE, an occurrence that spits in the face of both thermodynamics and environmentally callous regulations.

Anyway, those fences seemed to mend after the Cleveland public sheepishly welcomed James back to the city while the team’s owner Dan Gilbert, in a legendary display of literally throwing away his dignity begged LeBron to return to his horrible city.

But, LeBron James is the most popular athlete on the planet.  Of course watching him leave will incite some folks.  Well, what about when one of the NFL’s best running backs leaves his team?  Well, good thing you are about to read the next paragraph.

The answer to the aforementioned rhetorical question is this: they absolutely flip out.  DeMarco Murray won me my fantasy league last year, but more importantly, he led the league in rushing yards and broke the Dallas Cowboys single season rushing record, which is a remarkable fact considering Emmitt Smith used to hang out in Dallas.  In fact, Murray was so dominantly awesome the league went ahead an awarded him the NFL Offensive Player of the Year, another tremendous honor considering that’s an award usually reserved for quarterbacks.  To further illustrate the significance of Murray winning NFL Offensive Player of the Year, six running backs have won the award since 2002.  Three of them needed to set single season touchdown records in the process and the other three eclipsed the 2,000 yard mark; so yeah, it’s a hard award to win.  So you have a 27-year old running back who just won the NFL OPOY award and even though he’s had some injury issues, he looked great last season and the year before, is running behind the best offensive line in football, and has the luxury of a prolific passing attack to take some pressure off his legs.  What do you do?

If you said, “allow him to enter free agency and allow him to sign with a rival team within your division”, then congratulations, and thank you Jerry Jones for actually taking the time to read my site.  Big fan.

Dallas, a team with pretty much every opportunity to re-sign Murray said, “nah” instead handing a chunk of money to Doug Free, an offensive tackle who allowed roughly as many sacks as an anemic first grader would have last season.  Of course, it’s the NFL, so running backs have a shorter shelf life than most players.

That ebony Adonis is DeMarco Murray; 220 pounds of twisted steel and sex appeal that can run a 4.4 second 40 and crush defenders into dust.

Chip Kelly (whose idiocy I will address some other time) decided he (rightfully) liked Murray and convinced the Eagles to offer Murray a five-year $40 million deal.  Murray’s teammate Sam Bradford is making $13 million next season and hasn’t played an entire football game since the regional quarterfinals of his seventh grade year.

Okay, so I’ve gone on a pretty sizable tangent here.  Let’s make this situation applicable to jersey burning: it’s because Dallas fans torched their Murray jerseys after he signed with the Eagles.  And they have every right to voice their displeasure; how DARE Murray leave Dallas for an inter-divisional rival.  He’s a traitor, he’s only interested in money, and he’s a sell out.

Facts worth considering:  Murray was drafted in the third round of the 2011 draft.  This means his rookie deal was worth just under $3 million over four years, and only about $600,000 of that was guaranteed via a signing bonus.  Murray played well in his rookie year, but got injured and missed the remainder of the 2011 season, the effects of which plagued his 2012 season.  Murray was injured for two games in 2013, but if you combine his numbers in 2013 and 2014 he rushed for nearly 3,000 yards and 21 touchdowns, both numbers placing him among the elite players in the league.  In essence, he vastly outplayed the roughly $600,000 he was making per season.  For comparisons sake the league’s highest paid running back Adrian Peterson makes nearly $12 million a season and missed 15 games last year and the runner-up for the OPOY award is a quarterback whose paycheck is worth nearly $20 million a season.  So yeah, Murray is a bit of a bargain.

More facts: Running backs typically decline after age 30.  Like significantly.  I play fantasy football and three years ago Maurice Jones-Drew was the third overall pick.  He retired about a week ago.  As you can see, things change quickly.  Murray is 27-years old, and well aware that his window is closing.  This is the first time Murray will be able to cash in on a contract.  He will go from collecting as much money as his backup to one of the league’s highest paid running backs.  And even then, the $8 million per year he’s making is still a pretty amazing bargain considering the level of production.  Andy Dalton makes almost twice as much money as Murray.  Andy.  Dalton.  This fact should infuriate you.

What’s that?  Fact?  Yup:  Murray didn’t hold the Cowboys hostage.  He gave them every opportunity to negotiate a contract.  Apparently, the Cowboys lowballed Murray in a Dan Gilbert-esque display of cowardice, leading the NFL’s leading rusher to take offense.  Even then, even after basically being told, “we like you, but don’t like like you”, Murray STILL allowed the Cowboys to make a final offer and match the Eagles.  Again, they said “nah.”

So, to recap, we have a 27-year old running back coming off one of the most prolific rushing performances in league history cashing in on a deal (probably the only big contract he will ever receive) with another team who apparently values his abilities, and fans of the team he departed, (you know, the team who lowballed him in the first place) are taking offense to his decision.

Listen, I understand sports are a source of passion for people, especially football, and especially in Texas where watching football is a close second to either shooting Mexicans on-sight or just being bored for “Favorite Activity”, but come on, use some common sense.  I currently work in a restaurant and want to leave, but I don’t think the customers will be burning my shirts after I take a more lucrative, higher paying job and calling me a “traitor” or “sellout”.  Demarco Murray plays arguably the most physically demanding position in football, a position which sees retired players like Tony Dorsett unable to eat soup because the league ignored his hundreds of concussions and has a retirement plan that is only slightly better than al-Qaeda’s “72 Virgins” and “Why is this vest ticking?” sales pitches.

As much as people knock athletes for “being all about the money”, isn’t that sort of a hypercritical notion?  Isn’t that kind of the point of having a job?  Sure, helping people and self-fulfillment are noble achievements, but at the end of the day isn’t the reason for employment getting a hot meal, providing for your family and taking awesome, exotic jet-ski vacations?  Yeah, athletes make a lot of money, but considering the revenue their sports bring in and the physical toll things take on their body, maybe it’s okay if they collect an extra couple million.  If you still aren’t convinced, I encourage you to Google “CTE” and research the lives of some ex-NFL players and tell me those guys don’t at least deserve a decent severance package.

If you are the type of person to burn the jersey of a professional athlete because he bailed on your team, maybe take a step back and realize maybe it’s because you, your city, and your team’s ownership kind of suck.

Georgia Supreme Court among several interested in passing “anti-gay” legislation

Alabama..as in that Alabama became the 36th state to legalize gay marriage recently.  Alabama.

Georgia, their equally hilarious and profoundly stereotyped neighbor, is among only several states which ban civil unions, so if you are gay and live in Georgia, then tough cookies.  Apparently, the Georgia state government (among others) is attempting to pass legislature at a state level which would allow locally owned businesses or individuals to refuse service to a person based on sexual orientation.

Before I get too far into this, I’m not here for a moral debate.  The goal of this article isn’t to convince you whether or not to accept homosexuality or be a champion for gay marriage.  I do, however, want to lay out all the facts in an orderly manner that allows the big picture to gain some clarity.

That being said, a law which would basically ban a homosexual couple from a restaurant, for example, is very reminiscent of another huge mistake the South made a few centuries ago (as recently as 1954, in fact) when they mandated “Jim Crow” laws, which segregated African-Americans from stuff white people liked, which happened to be pretty much everything.  Of course, the state legislature isn’t simply allowing business to refuse service to gay couples because they hate gays.  That would be absurd!  No, instead they are setting up this law to protect “religious integrity.”

Full disclosure:  I’m a Christian.  I’m also keen on geography.  The only thing the Southeastern United States loves more than college football is the word of God, so it really offends me when I hear an entire region of people wants to discriminate an entire subset of people based on their sexual orientation.  And, for the record, this has NOTHING to do with gay marriage.  A Christian has every right to defend the sanctity of marriage, just like anyone else has the right to defend marriage equality, but no person should be set on excluding a portion of the population based on an observable fact that doesn’t affect them in any way.  If a gay couple goes into a Georgia restaurant and is refused service based on their sexual orientation because the owners “are defending their religion” then perhaps it’s time these restaurant owners take a step back an examine the meaning of their religion.  The Bible has numerous examples of Jesus serving people, regardless of their situation.  Matthew 25, Proverbs 19, and James 2 are some of my favorites, and believe me, there are countless other examples of verses that basically say, “dude, don’t be a jerk; just serve your brothers here on earth and be a decent person.”  In fact, one could argue refusing to serve someone based on their sexual orientation is equally as sinful as engaging in the act in the first place.

As far as it seems society has evolved, its sad that it always reverts back to this primitive era of shaming those who aren’t in agreement with the consensus.  Unless federal legislation is passed that will adopt same-sex marriage, make no mistake, the state of Georgia will NEVER formally adopt legally recognized gay marriages.  This means not only are you and your partner stuck without marriage, odds are good you can’t even get a sandwich in some diners in the state of Georgia if you’re gay.

Is legislation preventing goods and services from gay people really about “protecting religious liberties”, or is it about maintaining the cultural stereotype of Southerners hating gay people.  Alabama seems to be headed in the right direction, Georgia, so maybe it’s time to do the same.  Or better yet, elect people who won’t 37-15 to pass legislation prohibiting certain people from enjoying the same goods and services as everyone else.

Referees, Youth Sports, and Border-line PTSD

Western Pennsylvania is an interesting geographical area.  From Washington up to Erie, back down to Pittsburgh, and all the way over to Johnstown you have a blend of over four million people who seemingly represent every subset of the United States population.  More than anything, though, Western Pennsylvania loves sports.

Of course, football reigns supreme, but wrestling and baseball draw big crowds, while basketball and soccer enjoy decent sized followings depending one where you live or how terrible your football or baseball teams are.  Honestly, Western Pa. is kind of boring outside of places like Pittsburgh or Erie, so sports fill a void that can’t really be filled through other means.  For every six-year old kid excited for baseball practice because it gets him away from his schoolwork there’s a 45-year old guy who works in a factory excited for the Steelers on Sunday because it allows him to escape a job he hates.

Really, sports are the one constant in Western Pa.  It’s the one thing everyone can agree on, it’s a great ice-breaker when meeting strangers, and it’s a source of pride since many notable professional athletes have hailed from Western Pa.

So while athletics are an important part of the Western Pa. culture, I was not surprised when I heard the number of referees needed to officiate youth and high school sports was decreasing, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

You see, since sports are such a prevalent, all-encompassing hobby in this area, it leads followers to be especially passionate about the issue.  However, Western Pa. is also known for a particularly brash, blunt, somewhat standoff-ish demographic of human beings; yinzers (you’ve probably heard as a colloquial terminology).  When you mix yinzers and passions, you get an unwanted mixture of horrifying, despicable emotions.

I began playing sports at a young age.  I quickly became pretty good at soccer and baseball so I figured I would just stick with those to keep myself busy until I started a blog at age 23.  The first time I ever dealt with particularly brash parents was during a soccer game at age nine.  I was playing for the Falcons, my youth soccer team, against another team who was coached by a notorious butt-nugget who I won’t name.  Anyway, I can distinctly remember him (on several occasions) screaming at the referees who were volunteering their time to officiate games.  Notice the word volunteering:  At this point, my youth league didn’t have much money and we played our games in the outside of an old baseball field at an old park which hosted the old county fair.  So referees conducted their business on a volunteer level and it usually consisted of mostly parents.  You can imagine my uneasiness when I watched a grown, adult man jeer a volunteer parent for missing a call, an action I noticed was ridiculous even as a nine-year old.

Anyway, soccer season came to an end and I began baseball season, where I was moved up to the “major league”, which simply referred to the league kids 10 and over played in.  Fortunately, this league had a little bit more money, so the umpires were paid, but the parental nonsense was equally as bad.  In fact, one of my coaches (who is a Pennsylvania State Trooper) once completely lost his mind arguing balls and strikes with an umpire, an action that will get a manager in the MLB tossed.  On numerous occasions I watched parents scream at officials, coaches scream at officials and generally just stupid adults yelling at other equally stupid adults.  But I was 10 and having fun, so it never bothered me that much (and was also hilarious).  Two years later, it was time to decide if I wanted to play junior league baseball, a move I declined because the same coach and many of the more despised parents in little league would be attending all he games.  Yeah, no thanks.

So, I decided to focus on soccer.  By the time I was playing varsity soccer, I was shocked at some of the things I heard parents saying to referees.  One of my friends had a dad who was Italian, and he frequently screamed obscenities at the referees in Italian and even got escorted off the premises of several games.  Sure, it was morbidly hilarious at the time, but for God’s sake, it’s a soccer game.  The other idiot I mentioned a few paragraphs ago was also very loud an unruly, while several other pairs of ancillary parents made themselves look stupid as well.  Even worse was my spring soccer league.  This time, the league had enough money to pay referees, and they were nice enough to offer a class to teach younger kids how to officiate.  So if you were over the age of 14 and had a Saturday afternoon free, you could become a certified official and make $10 a game refereeing the youth soccer games; not bad work for a teenager.  Of course, doing this SUCKED because even though you were a 15-year old kid, parents still frequently berated you until you wanted to quit and go play Legos are whatever I did when I was 15.

A little over a year ago, I worked as a writer at a local newspaper where I was pretty much the main guy when it came to covering local high school sports.  After that experience, I’m not sure I’d ever want to cover high school sports again.  You see, I usually covered games, whether football, basketball, soccer, etc, from either the stands or on the sidelines.  Volleyball was by far the worst because there was always this group of three of four parents who were unbelievable tools.  One game, (and I’ll never forget this) one of the members of this group flipped out over a call, screamed at the ref, and when the ref didn’t acknowledge him he referred to him by his first name and then screamed at the top of his lungs, “That is a TERRIBLE call, Mike!”  By now, the gym was pretty much dead silent and this gigantic moron had embarrassed himself, humiliated his daughter, and probably made himself a new enemy.  Oh, did I mention this angry father was (and still is) an assistant coach on this high school’s football team?  And one time during a football game he was in the press box (because he’s the offensive coordinator, duh) and screamed at the top of his lungs like a child at the referee about a bad call on the field.  Best of all, if my memory serves I’m actually fairly certain the guy made the correct call.

I’m aware of the “living vicariously through their children” stereotype typically afforded to obnoxious parents, but when you see a kid visibly embarrassed because his dad threw a temper tantrum, it’s pretty hard to justify vicarious living.

At any level, whether it be youth, high school, or an actual, hulking Ed Houchulli-sized referee, it shouldn’t be okay to fly off the handle and yell like a psychopath.  Let’s use a professional referee as an example:  So an NFL referee is jogging down the field, watching the play happen, and a long ball is thrown.  The wide receiver drops it, and it looks like the defensive back made illegal contact with him of the play, but the ref holds on to his flag.  Of course, the coach goes ballistic on the field; getting up in the refs face, screaming until he’s red, telling the ref he’s terrible, and probably insulting his mother.  Usually, people laugh, and some announcers (looking at you, Phil Simms) even justify the behavior of an insane coach.  Okay, now let’s check the inverse scenario:  The coach radios a play to his quarterback, the quarterback drops back to pass, and is immediately sacked because of a breakdown in pass protection.  So, the referee runs over to the sideline, gets right in the coaches face and screams, “Oh my god that’s the worst play-call I’ve ever seen!  You are an idiot, making blind calls, the rest of your coaches suck, and so does your mom, nerd.”  Basically the exact same scenario: one professional screaming like an idiot and insulting another.  But, for some reason, only one of those actions is considered justifiable.

And this process repeats itself in real life. If a kid blows up an orphanage people blame it on Grand Theft Auto, so it makes sense an adult male might be influenced by the actions of a highly paid 56-year old man with type 2 diabetes claiming that play was, in fact, defensive pass interference.  But my earlier example was a professional example.  Geesh, NFL referees can make upwards of $200,000 per season; I’d certainly let Andy Reid yell at me every Sunday for that much cash.  A PIAA official like you would see officiating a basketball game usually makes about $50 a game, while a youth official rakes in anywhere from $10-25.  So, since amateur officials are basically volunteering their time, this would be the equivalent of walking into an animal shelter and getting belligerent with the elderly woman who feeds the cats part-time because your dog didn’t get his rabies shot in under an hour.

For some reason, and I’ll never know why, people act as if courts and fields have invisible walls blocking their perimeters where anything they say is heard but there’s no consequences.  If you walked into a Walmart and started screaming at a janitor you are going to jail, but if you lambast a 13-year old who is spending their Saturday trying to make enough money for his first, awkward, entirely nonverbal date, there are literally no ramifications whatsoever.  People get this idea that their actions are justified because they are acting with such lunacy no one in the stands is going to confront them. The officials certainly won’t do anything, so they proceed as if the world owes them that handball call.  Everyone has a breaking point; Ron Artest proved that years ago when he charged into the stands and knocked out a fan before he was even able to suggest an alternative route of conflict resolution.  Artest was a player, granted, but you can’t tell me there’s not a referee on earth who hasn’t fantasized about sucker-punching some obnoxious idiot in the peanut gallery.

Parents, especially, seem wont to pass the blame on anyone but themselves.  They blame the coach because their son isn’t getting any playing time; they don’t blame themselves for making him pudgy and weird in the first place.  They blame “the sport” for being to rough and hurting their kids; they don’t blame themselves for allowing their seven-year old to strap on a helmet and play a contact sport.  They blame officials for getting a call wrong; they don’t step back and realize “Hey, this guy is human, we all make mistakes, and there’s no greater mistake than making an idiot out of myself in front of my kid’s entire social circle and their parents.”

I realize I’ve made a fair deal of generalizations throughout this article.  But, I also realize not all parents are like this.  Mine certainly weren’t.  Neither were most of my friends’ parents.  But obnoxious parents are like gun owners; only a small percentage are insane, but that’s enough to make the rest of us nervous.  If you’re a parent, I hope this makes you take a step back and consider your behavior.  If you are like most people and accept a game is a game and that missed call is not a big deal, then good, I encourage you to change nothing.  If you are one of these parents who screams like a child with a full diaper at every questionable err in judgment an official makes, then I ask that you perhaps reevaluate certain aspects of your life:  What’s really important?  Who do you want to be?  Is this the most humiliated my kid will feel in their entire life (yes, probably)?  Also consider this name: Don Denkinger.  In game 6 of the 1985 World Series, the Cardinals were clinging to a 3-2 game lead over intrastate rival Kansas City and leading by one run in the bottom of the 9th inning.  A Royals batter hit a slow roller and looked to be out at first base, but Denkinger called him safe.  Other details happened, but the Royals ended up winning game 6 because of a blown call, and won game 7 the next night, clinching a World Series title.  For all intents and purposes, Denkinger cost the Cardinals the World Series, and I guarantee not a single person outside the state of Missouri is even aware of him.  Point being, even the most awful of bad calls can be forgotten, especially when your teams wins a pair of World Series titles since that date, like the Cardinals did.

So as you can see, complaining and yelling at referees makes you look really stupid, embarrasses your kids, and just generally makes you come off as an arrogant moron.  Since the number of referees actually wanting to subject themselves to that punishment is declining (because, duh) parents who scream about bad calls that “ruin the game” are managing to offend the guys who actually oversee the game.  And a lack of officials will probably “ruin the game” more than a few missed balls or a bogus offsides.