Horace Smith

March Insanity: The Plight of the Little Guys

This year marked the first year where I skipped out on March Madness. I feel like madness is fitting here. Not because I felt strangely disinterested in college basketball. No, the real reason I stopped watching is because the NCAA is really about grown men making millions of dollars while kids play basketball and see none of it. Granted, this isn’t anything new. The NCAA is, and has been, broken for a while now and nobody seems interested in doing anything to fix it.

We pretended we cared when we required basketball players to “go to college” for one year before declaring so they could write papers like this. To be honest, Google translate could have written a better paper than that, although it wouldn’t have had to because Rosa Parks’ biography is in English and Google translate doesn’t have free will. Of course, that’s not the point. Google translate wrote this article, but at least I proofread it.

That of course is the problem with America, and most of the world — if there’s money, well, period. Nothing else really matters. Not people’s feelings and certainly not people either. It’s capitalism, and it’s not capitalism at the same time, because the definition of capitalism is not what capitalism actually is nowadays. And while “economists” will claim that capitalism is actually based in altruism, anybody who has actually been alive can see that’s a blatant lie, e.g. Monsanto.

The NCAA, like western capitalism, is a system that could have gone down the right road, yet veered off the highway some twenty plus years ago. After all, our real world sleaziness has allowed us to “build” an “America” that is entirely dependent on China, or any other country where we pay people poor wages to make our shirts, pants, bowls, cups, rugs, furniture, electronics and… athletic jerseys.

So it’s hardly surprising that we’ve one upped the people we’re robbing overseas and have begun robbing our own pint-sized academic, athletic citizens in the guise of “betterment.” Because, honestly, we’re really not giving these kids anything. Not a true education and certainly not money. If we took the basketball players on Florida, UConn, Kentucky and Wisconsin and calculated money earned to money payed out and made some questionable parallels, every one of those people working in factories in China and making US products wouldn’t just be wealthy. They would be bottomlessly, fabulously wealthy. Their bank account would literally read the infinity symbol.

Because we don’t pay these college athletes anything. Not only that, we embarrass and occasionally destroy their futures if they do accept money and we pretend like we actually care about decency and morals. How silly Derrick Rose could have been to let someone else take his SATs and go play basketball under the NCAA’s protective wing, who in turn milked him for all he was worth only to deal him a nice ol’ crack-back when he finally started making his own millions. Memphis was a feel good story. Thank you dear old NCAA for turning them into another Michigan.

All this makes me sick and tired of the NCAA. Their smaller parts (the academic institutions themselves) cover up sexual assault, pedophilia, academic fraud and whatever while the NCAA cries foul after the damage has already been done and lays down bowl tablecloth swipes and scholarship sanctions. After, of course, the NCAA has already pocketed millions of dollars in (literally) sweatshop profits generated from the offenders. The point is, NCAA, if you care, show you care. Take preventive measures. When was the last time you saw an NCAA related infraction that wasn’t at least a year old get reported?

I used to hear the idea that the NCAAB creates a better product than the NBA. That the players care, they actually play defense, they have more “heart.” And while that’s true in some respects (but certainly not all, as there are plenty of NBA players who care and have heart) it’s also misguided. Because the NBA, at the very least, has transparency.

Adam Silver (just like David Stern, god bless his soul) uses grown men to make a lot of money. But that’s okay, because he acknowledges this, and he pays these grown men a lot of money. Even if he should probably pay them a lot more, the underpayment is at least acknowledged. Every ten years or so, the powers that be will sit down with Derek Fisher or some other walking zombie basketball player and they say, “Hey, we’re kind of robbing you, sorry, but it’s just gotta be that way” and the players will shrug because the difference between $175 million and $200 million doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) really matter.

Look, I didn’t watch any March Madness this year because I don’t care anymore. I’m tired. And I’m sad. I heard it was a great tournament, too. Anytime a 7 plays an 8 is a treat. When the little guys win out (even if Kentucky is huge and all of their players are NBA bound), it’s a victory for the world. It makes me smile, because for one brief moment, the people who work hard and fill the world with passion come out on top. It makes me forget that they’re being robbed blind.

There’s enough pain and suffering in the world and sometimes sports just don’t really matter in the universal schemes of big guys squashing little guys. If I’m going to trudge on down to my neighborhood bar and get a few beers and feel sorry about the state of the universe, I prefer to avoid conflict. That means skipping out on NCAA money charades and leaving my phone that was made out of conflict minerals obtained by African children who work 48-hour shifts amidst mudslides and tunnel collapses at home.

Sometimes, you just need to be alone with the stars, drinking local beer out of glasses made in China.

Make Opening Day a National Holiday!

As far as American government goes, I can really only be sure of one thing. Whoever makes the laws in Florida should probably be arrested. I’m also confident plastic should be made illegal and we should allow Republicans and the state of Texas to secede with the help of Russia and create their own super colony… If they want to. Just don’t be surprised when you’re eventually conquered by Mexico.

But I’m pretty sure the greatest idea ever was recently proposed on whitehouse.gov: Make Opening Day a National Holiday.

Basically, this needs to be put into law ASAP. With only a few weeks to go and 37,000 more signatures needed, America needs to step up their game.  Let’s get into why this is perhaps the best proposal ever, and why our government is just the government to make it happen.

MLB Opening Day is more than just the beginning of the season. It’s a symbol of rebirth. The coming of spring. The return of America’s national pastime.” Actually, I’m pretty sure our national pastime was subjugating and oppressing other groups of people against their will, but I’m happy to run with baseball instead. It’s easier to sleep at night thinking our legacy is rooted in frankenmeat and steroids rather than slavery and genocide.

It’s a state of mind where anything is possible. You can feel the electricity in the air.” I love this. It would replace the de facto American state of mind, which is ‘New York State of Mind’ by Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys. Anytime there’s a chance to usurp the most tragic American anthem since that jazz infused diddy about our 1922 refusal to outlaw lead, I’m for it.

Opening Day brings with it the promise of a new beginning. Every fan is in good spirits. It’s a day of celebration. It’s a day of hope.” Yup. I’m in complete agreement. Let’s face it; America is in a downward spiral. We’ve been there, well, for close to 300 years by my count. I’m all about new beginnings. True, we can probably do better than beer and peanuts. But who knows? Maybe that will lead to a hike and exploring the amazing realm of nature from whence we came. For now, watching a bunch of overpaid men cheat their way to a 1-0 win will have to do.

“It’s a day that, for generations, has been looked forward to by baseball fans every off-season. It’s an American tradition, and it deserves to be recognized as an American holiday. ” I’m increasingly beginning to believe that this proposition was written by someone who’s lived underground since 1935, but everybody needs something to look forward to. Our government sure isn’t giving us much in that department, so I say, why not? I could always use a day off work, and so could the hard working Americans, and everybody else who helps run this country from China.

“Join us in our quest to make sure every American can exercise their inalienable right to celebrate the day those two magical words are uttered for the first time: “PLAY BALL!” To be honest, my first time wasn’t all that memorable. Or magical. There were definitely far less than two words uttered in that bathroom but I take the fifth and that is my inalienable right. But that’s what first times are for — to forget and pretend they never happened. Every time should be like the first, so I’m all about a holiday that makes us feel new and whole again.

Look, I hope this law gets passed. I really do. I mean, we have a holiday for a guy who arrived in the Americas, thought he was in India, and was like, “Hi, I’m Chris, everything that used to belong to you now belongs to me, so thanks. PS, here are some smallpox.”

The least we can do is work a little less and get back to our roots and enjoy a sport that used to be a unifying force in America. We’re all about excess, so what’s wrong with an excess holiday that has some American relevance? Plus, it will only lay precedent to the other petitions I have in mind for this great country of ours, which include legalizing all firearms when in the presence of bacon and genetically modifying water.

Happy Fourth of July, America.

The Insufferable Scorecard of Tiger Woods

Newsflash.

There is this new golfer who is infamous for being good at golf. He’s not terrible, he’s just merely good but he’s usually out of the running come Sunday in majors. He keeps making ESPN top stories despite never winning said majors. He even missed a cut once at Torrey Pines.

Despite this assured good but not greatness, ESPN always keeps us updated on his status. If anything remotely compassionate or motivating was broadcasted to us as regularly as this guy’s ‘shots off the lead,’ world hunger would have been eradicated. If ESPN tackled global issues they way they tackle this guy’s assured descent into the middle to the back end of the pack, Ukraine, South Sudan, Syria, Palestine and Israel would all be throwing hug and cuddle parades right now.

Sadly, ESPN is always throwing its lot in with the less than one percent of things that literally do not matter in any way shape or form. At the top of that list?

No, not golf.

Tiger Woods’ tournament status.

Tiger, -1,789 off the lead. Tiger drives 19th hole green from 1st hole tee. Tiger swears while missing cut. It’s the never-ending story. He’s everywhere. It’s not hard to find a bevy of clips about Tiger as irrelevant as my human existence. He’s always talking in polite monotones. He’s always feeling good, too. Always feeling good out there today.

Jeez, if I felt good as often as this guy, I wouldn’t be drinking so much wine and eating painkillers like Cheetos. Is he Buddhist? Is he Buddha? Whatever magic pills he’s taking, it’s working. People must still care a ton about this guy because ESPN is all over him like an FBS school on a sexual assault case. And by that I mean the opposite of that.

Look, we don’t have to hear about Tiger all the time. He barely made the cut at the Honda tournament thing on Friday. According to him (via ours truly, ESPN)  “it was a grind.” That’s great. Honestly, great. Who’s in second place though? Third? Fourth? Any of the 78 players that finished in front of Tiger?

Having to hear a whole bunch of meaningless chatter about a dude who was great six years ago is even less interesting than watching that same dude hack his way to a good but not great 71. It’s not like he has anything new to say either. Woods, when pressed on why he shot a 65 on Saturday, responded like every other golfer ever in the history of golf — he said that he hit the ball well and he made some putts.

Fact: Tiger was on top of the world six years ago. Fact: No longer. Leave the #1 ranking out of it. It’s the same excuse everyone used when Roger Federer was metaphorically lapped by Djokovic and Nadal.

Why do I have to keep reading about Tiger like he’s still the same guy who won those 14 majors? Why do I have to watch the man hole out his par putt on the 13th hole when he’s constipated and down by 6? I typed in Honda Classic on Sunday (after it was over) and the first thing that showed up on Google was Tiger having to withdraw due to a back issue. Not who won the actual tournament.

Here’s a list of things I would rather see than Tiger not win anything: The Los Angeles Lakers try to play basketball. Golf. Hot dogs. Oatmeal cooking on a campfire stove. A water fountain that doesn’t work. A frog doing the throat inflation thingy. Paper. An organ that plays itself. Shoes.

No more constant newsflashes, please. Or interviews. Even if he conducts A-Rodian news conferences of the highest caliber, he still needs a PR facial hair rep.

If we stopped caring about his descent into average joe-ness, who knows? Maybe he’d win another major. The lack of constant, undesirable, pressure probably doesn’t help. But as of now, there’s no point in keeping us updated on the inevitable. There’s a reason no one wants to be reminded they’re going to die eventually, everyday.

It would be more interesting to watch me play golf. If not winning majors is what it takes, sign me up. I can swear with the best of them. I wasn’t kidding about the wine and painkillers either. I’ll crash a car too, just so long as someone else supplies it. I’ve got what it takes to miss the cut. I promise you that.

Day in, day out; the best slice outside of PepsiCo and the raddest hook since the Capn’ and I’m guaranteed to make it happen.

Sochi Apocalypse

 

The Winter Olympics are supposed to be a lot of things. A celebration of the world. An opportunity for us all to come together and not kill each other. A chance to not be a completely terrible and invasive species. Fine sporting and spectating. Binge drinking. Skeleton. Ice coitus dancing. Sweeping brooms in front of giant stones.

Most of all, the Winter Olympics are supposed to be cold. They’re supposed to be as snowy and frigid as Russian-American relations in the mid 80’s. Because that’s what winter is — it’s dark, it’s depressing, it’s cold. It’s bone numbing. Siberian (and Chiberian) misery of epic proportions. Think Lillehammer. Snow, ice, Nordic sweaters, and red noses. Think snow. The cold stuff that you can actually do things on. Not slush. There’s a 7-Eleven down the street.

There should be a new test for the Winter Olympics, one I propose should be effective immediately. The locations should be cold and snowy enough to spur the desire to consume massive amounts of alcohol. Winter should make you want to drink. That’s obviously why alcohol was created — to numb the misery of the human existence when it’s hypothermically low on vitamin D.

Winter should be painful. Your head, shoulders, knees, and toes should hurt. You should always feel a few short steps away from death. Otherwise, you’re doing it wrong. There shouldn’t be dolphins and palm trees. None of this should be happening.

It’s not like Russia isn’t cold — honestly, I couldn’t think of a finer country for the Winter Olympics. Some of the best vodka in the world? A country whose winters are so bad, their severity has defeated numerous enemy invaders? Give me that winter. Not this bizarro, 60 degree thing.

Having mountains and snow isn’t enough. Mountains always have snow on them. That’s just how it works. It’s science. They’re really high in the air. Get close enough to your creator and of course he’s going to want to spit on you. That’s why all the humans are down near the ocean. We’re an embarrassment, the proverbial ostrich and we belong in the gutters.

The point of the Winter Olympics is to have something to look forward to during the miserable, cat nights of winter. We’re banking on them being miserable. But if it’s 76 in Miami and it’s 63 in Sochi, who’s going to want to watch the Olympics?

The Vancouver Olympics were the warmest games EVER. The average temperature was nearly 45 degrees. That’s what you get when you host them in a city that’s basically a Canadian version of Seattle and Portland: moderate winters, a ton of rain, and a much higher Canadian quality of life.

Obviously, this is happening because the world is ending. Global warming is real. Everything is dying and it’s our fault (and the cows’ too). Because of this unchecked destruction, we might not have the Winter Olympics soon. Not because it’s too warm, though. Because of the zombie apocalypses. Things are going to get The Walking Dead bad…

Here’s the thing though: if we continue to destroy everything (and at this point, nothing, not even Eric Gagne circa 2003 is a surer thing) contrary to popular belief, the world will actually get much, much colder. Global warming will melt the glaciers, adding a significant amount of fresh water into the ocean, which will disrupt ocean currents, which will cause global temperatures to plummet, which will cause an ice age.

So by all means, when 2016 rolls around, make sure to drive that car two blocks to the grocery store, idle it while your wife runs in to grab a whole bunch of factory farmed, dead animal product and drive back and crank the AC in the house and watch the Summer Olympics. Because in the end, you’re really just contributing to the future of the Winter Games. Long live the Age of Ice.

But all that is beside the point. The world isn’t over just yet. There is still summer, fall, spring, and most importantly, winter. There are plenty of places on this earth that still suck. Where it’s miserably cold and people are downing shots of their national liquor and complaining. Where the drama of the Winter Games should play out.

We owe it to ourselves to find those places.

Losing is the New Cool

What a terrible week.

Philip Seymour Hoffman died. Dylan Farrow wrote that open letter. DMX is going to fight George Zimmerman. The oceans are going extinct.

Nothing like a week that says, “life is hard and will only get harder until you die.”

What can you do? Besides reach for the Fireball (and keep on trucking).

Nothing. You can’t really do anything. So enough with the resistance.

Let it happen. Let the pain and sadness wash over you, like a cascading Gatorade shower of pure sugar and limited sodium content that does nothing but dehydrate you anyway.

I think losing is cool. It’s the new sticking it to the man. Nobody says you have to succeed and be happy all the time. Be proud Peyton Manning. Way to go John Elway. Everyone wanted to win the Super Bowl and you actually had a say in the matter and you chose not to.

What’s wrong with embarrassment or not showing up? It’s hip. It’s what the other 50% is doing and 100% of them don’t want to do it anyway. There’s an opportunity to be trendsetters here. To take the road less traveled. Everybody wants to win; that’s boring.

Vegas set up all these expectations for you — that’s not your fault. It’s like when my parents told me to go to a liberal arts college and be a business major. How could I stick it to them in the worst possible way (in a 2.5 point spread, nonetheless)?

By going to art school, duh. There’s nothing more terrifying than your child throwing paint at walls and making films about scab picking and losing by 35 points.

Embrace it Peyton! If you fight it, you’re just another squad that got whooped because you were scared. But rolling over in protest of the massive, consumer packaged joke that’s known as the Super Bowl?

Legen… Wait for it… Never mind. That was too mainstream. David Bowie said it better.

It’s not like doing things differently is new to sports. Who are the real trailblazers nowadays? Look at Jason Collins. Forget winning or losing — he’s not even the league. That’s totally meta. The Vikings punter — what was his name? He’s not in the league either.

Those guys are so hip they’re affecting sports without even playing them. I think you can get there Peyton. Eventually. Just look at your brother, Eli. It’s something to aspire to.

Look, there are very few cool things nowadays. Being a hipster and going against the grain is definitely one of them.

Hipster is the new hip and athletes do whatever it takes to up the fresh factor on their “brand” (whatever that means). One of the hippest, most independent athletes in sports? Russell Westbrook. Dude’s wardrobe is like MC Hammer mixed with Urkel. So fresh.

But do hipsters win? Nah. Brandon Jennings? Heck of a haircut, bad team. James Harden? Killer beard, pitiful defense. None of them have won anything.

Kobe’s got five championships and he’s always referring to himself as an old man. The last time he was hip, they were serving pterodactyl eggs and raptor bacon for breakfast at Camp Firewood. Talk to me when you’ve got a bunch of bird tattoos and you need beard shampoo, Kobe. Until then? Hipster-unapproved.

Winners are dudes like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Gregg Popovich. They’re like the Nickelback of sports. Even Shaq tried indie rapping and sounded very, very unlike Kendrick, who performed with Imagine Dragons, so… Can you imagine those dragons?

Winning can be boring sometimes, plain and simple. Variety is the spice of life.

Come on. It’s not like our society doesn’t reward people for completely failing in life. It’s everywhere, from movies to culture to politics — heck, it’s capitalism!

Death, criminal and sexual accusations, terrible art, greed? Losing in my book. But America loves this stuff — the results are PPV boxing fights, a lifetime achievement award, a Heisman, blockbusters, $20M bonuses (and a tax loophole!).

There’s this thing called rape culture, but I think we’re culture-raped. We’re rape-cultured too (see Allen, Woody or Football, College), but our whole way of life has been violated by a bunch of things someone decided needed to be the “norm” when in fact there’s nothing normal about them.

They’re as abnormal, cancerous, and shamelessly money-grubbing as a PPV fight of an ex-rapper and a man who shot a 17-year-old kid.

So now, we’re all a bunch of damaged goods, pickled in negativity, and we’re expected to get it all right? To not lose by 35 points in a Super Bowl when nearly 3 billion people live on less than $2.50 a day?

Should we really have to plug in our basses during the Super Bowl halftime show? (Kurt Cobain would be proud, Flea)

What if we just stopped caring about all this messed up stuff? How cool would that be? People being passionate about things that don’t matter at all — No longer! Putting energy into things that do — Heck yeah!

Way to go Peyton. Way to go John Fox. Doing the hard thing. Getting it done in true counter-culture fashion.

People will look back at this Super Bowl – when the 6th Extinction of the 3rd Rock from the Sun is upon us – and they’ll hail you two as prophets.

When the times get tough, curl up in a ball and wait until it’s all over.

After all, the mammals survived and the dinosaurs didn’t.