There’s a new fad sweeping the nation, and for once I’m ahead of the curve. It’s called the death penalty, and it’s the reason you woke up this morning with your face intact. Where at one time an escaped serial killer would more than likely have murdered you in gruesome fashion while you slept, you’re now probably going to live, so you can finally relax. No more revising your last will and testament every night. No more questioning why you’re setting your alarm when you’ll probably be long dead by the time it goes off. No more putting on your best-looking clothes before bed so you’ll look nice in case you die and an attractive stranger finds your body. And who can we thank for these lifted burdens? Well, there’s some debate as to who created the death penalty, but it’s probably safe to say they got the idea from YouTube.
But what is the death penalty? Well, here’s how the whole thing works: A guy kills somebody, the government kills him, and now the guy can’t kill anybody else, see? Sure, the government keeps killing, but they stop once all the killers are gone, except for themselves. So it’s not a perfect system, but it reduces the number of killers in the world from millions of disparate, elusive individuals to a single, unstoppable nationwide entity with utter legal supremacy. Get it? Continue reading »
“It was always the becoming he dreamed of, never the being.”
“Youth is like having a big plate of candy. Sentimentalists think they want to be in the pure, simple state they were in before they ate the candy. They don’t. They just want the fun of eating it all over again. The matron doesn’t want her girlhood—she wants to repeat the honeymoon. I don’t want to repeat my innocence. I want the pleasure of losing it again.”
–F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise
I’m pretty sure, now that I think about it, that it was the first time I had ever seen Michael Vick play, in that comeback in Morgantown. Up until 1999, Virginia Tech had been, at least to me, a banal Top 25 team, in that class with Clemson and Auburn and Georgia Tech — teams that were always ranked, that always played some good games, always played January bowl games, but never mattered in the title race. Vick, of course, changed that at Virginia Tech, and by the time I laid eyes on him, the Hokies were already No. 3 in the polls.
It was that run down the sidelines during the final drive that arrested my attention. It was so sudden and so graceful — so easy for Vick to transform the dynamic of that final minute from “Virginia Tech still needs a bunch of yards in a short amount of time” to “Oh, they’re in field-goal range now. They’re going to win.”
It was Will Hunting easy for Michael Vick to turn upfield on that play, and what seems so innocuous to us now wasn’t then. Quarterbacks didn’t do that. They weren’t that fast and elusive and graceful.*
*And if they were, they were doing it at a lower level of college football. This is my Steve McNair acknowledgment.
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Gilbert Arenas is a pretty funny guy, huh? I mean, I haven’t seen humor that black since George Bluth died.
Now, I’m generally not pro Bringing Lethal Weapons To Work. And I generally think it’s okay for employers to fire employees for moral reasons, particularly when the “employer” is as squarely in the public eye as the NBA is. But I think it’s naïve to say that the NBA is in the same position as any other employer.
There was a lot of debate about a similar topic last year, when Roger Goodell decided to reinstate Michael Vick in the NFL. Some people were adamantly on Vick’s side, saying that he had paid his debt to society by spending two years in prison. Therefore, the NFL should honor that “clean slate” by reinstating him.
Other people, though, thought that simply being in prison did not fully warrant a return to football. After all, Vick’s “crime” wasn’t only breaking the law, but tarnishing his image and the image of the NFL. The NFL can choose not to hire an ex-con just as any private company or institution can refuse to employ someone based on his or her background.
Like the NBA, though, the NFL can’t just use this excuse. Both professional leagues have, for all intents and purposes,* a professional monopoly on their sport—if I want to be a pro football player, the NFL is really all that’s available to me.
*There are other basketball leagues, just as there used to be other football leagues, but the difference in scale and salary is such that it’s ridiculous to compare the two. Continue reading »