Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Guest Post by Bud Ware

I have a concern about the direction in which our nation is going, and I think that sports may solve this concern. This is rare for me.
When I was in high school, I had a couple of classes with a Ms. Dennis, who taught drama and English and directed some plays and was often truly awful to be around. She was the first person I ever heard declaim rap as "not music." The other brief anecdote about her is that she hated me onstage. She apparently thought I was a talented enough actor to cast in a few plays, but was furious every time I performed. This stemmed largely by my occasional desire to improvise in order to improve a script I felt was lacking. Once, I started scratching my belly onstage for about ten minutes. From the stage, I could hear her in the audience, fuming, "This is ridiculous! I don't believe this!"
Regardless, my favorite memory of her was when Smarty Jones was poised to win the Triple Crown in 2004. He had won the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby, and was racing in the Belmont Stakes. I was on my way to a rehearsal of a play directed by Ms. Dennis, when I passed her car parked next to the school. She was inside, listening to the race. She was shouting and panting. If you didn't hear the game, you could easily mistake her for being on the receiving end of some great oral sex. Of course, Smarty Jones lost, and Ms. Dennis was heartbroken.
As she saw it, Smarty Jones was our nation's hope for coming out of this terrible moral depression we'd found ourselves in. She thought the country was steadily getting worse, and we needed an athlete to rally around, even if that athlete was not a human being. It should go without saying that Seabiscuit had come out recently.
Anyway, this is what came to mind when I read this news article. The families of people who were apparently killed for sport by our mercenaries in Iraq are alleging that those proto-Hessians were taking steroids, which could of course cloud their judgment. It would be difficult to convince me to hate Blackwater any more than I already do, so my initial reaction to this article was: Is that sporting?
It seems fairly reasonable to compare our efforts in Iraq to a sporting event. No matter how many times the Red Sox and the Yankees face-off, they'd never want to eliminate the other's team; without the one, the other'd have no one to play. This seems to be why we never took Colin Powell's advice to, you know, set objectives in Iraq and also use the entire might of our fairly significant army to accomplish those objectives and get out (something we did the first time we went to Iraq, precisely because we made all our current mistakes in Vietnam, and the military prefers to learn from mistakes than be led by a man who seems to never have read a history book). We're setting up a ball game.
But when did we lose sight of that goal? I feel compelled to compare the use of mercenary forces on steroids to the use of baseball players on steroids from a few years back (please scroll down to bullet point #14). Certainly there are no rules against it, and it would help us win, but doesn't it suggest we've strayed too far from our original plan, which is to set up an unending war to benefit our business interests? In a way, Halliburton is sort of our New Era.
So maybe it is time for us to look to baseball for our ethical cues. Officially ban steroid use among our by-the-hour soldiers, and put an asterisk next to our name in the history books when we start printing ones that say we won this war. Then, hopefully, we can move on and play the game with dignity.

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