Milton Bradley

Bullies

Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy

We’re going to talk about a$$holes today, class. Specifically, we’re going to talk about the way in which our society exalts certain bullies — the successful ones, I guess you’d say. If you’re laboring under a mountain of garbage work at a big law firm right now, you’ve probably run into a few of these. They’re your bosses. Because, if there’s any rule more reliable than gravity, it’s that the legal profession is thick with barely-functioning sociopathic goons who are sadistic to a degree rarely seen on Animal Planet. These a$$holes are lauded for their rainmaking potential and their ability to camouflage any recognizably human trait hidden deep within themselves. They are terrible and they probably run your life. So it goes.

But another class of individuals not far removed from the Biglaw freak show are those coaches (especially football) who are recognized as geniuses. Those successful coaches who look across the human landscape and only see so much raw material. So many interactions that must be scripted and manipulated in order to win some g-danged ball games. Genius has never been so depressingly common. But it’s from this class of individual that we build great hoary temples of cliche. Management principles, warfare strategies, motivational seminars, successories, visualization and actualization. This mountain of detritus is sustained by a steady stream of manure emanating from our nation’s greatest a$$holes. This, of course, is not meant to tar all coaches with this brush. Many coaches manage to retain some shred of their humanity while navigating the make-believe combat of their chosen sport. These coaches are usually losers, of course. But still. They exist.

Mike Gundy is not one of these exceptions. Mike Gundy is an a$$hole.

Let’s talk a$$holes…

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I’m trying to figure out whether Lance Armstrong is relieved that Manti Te’o upstaged him this week. On one hand, all of the mean, finger-wagging columns on Lance’s lying, like this typically flatulent effort by Rick Reilly, have been pushed to the second page of the Internet by Te’o’s (I’m not entirely sure I’m using the apostrophe correctly here) fake dead girlfriend. Although the internet defies all attempts to ascribe a finite supply of oxygen to any news story, there is a finite amount of attention that can be paid. And even though every news organization has dutifully assigned a writer (or moron) to cover the Lance debacle, no one much cares about it anymore. What happens to a scandal deferred? Does it dry up, like a craisin in this pun?

I think the overshadowing of the Lance Armstrong saga probably doesn’t help Armstrong at all. The vast majority of people who will have opinions about him have already formed them and those who may be swayed by a teary confession in front of Oprah now may not even be paying attention. But that’s all public opinion, which is the least of Lance’s worries at this point. And yet, public opinion is almost exclusively Manti Te’o’s (seriously, these apostrophes are bothering me) worry at this point. Almost.

Let’s talk fake dead Samoan girlfriends….

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