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The Countdown - 6

I've been thinking about Michael Sam.

Because football is one of the internet's favorite things (being the extension of 80's teen movies), I'm sure everyone knows who I am talking about. If not, then you probably know him as "the first openly gay man in the NFL draft".

One of the things that I like about him is that after his statement, he's tried directing attention back to "how (he) plays". Because who he is attracted to really isn't a factor in how he will do on the field. Which is sort of the point of him coming out, to challenge an outdated stereotype and maybe give a few more players the courage to be who they actually are in a public forum.

The danger, of course, is that he will end up being another Tim Tebow. A guy who was a good college quarterback, but people hyped because of his being a conservative Christian. He did OK in the NFL, but he just wasn't starting quarterback material, and ended up being more trouble than he was worth... like many star college athletes who can't make the cut, he is now out of the NFL.

Religious groups, and people who really don't know a lot about football cried foul, saying that it was because he spoke his mind, that he was being persecuted for who he was. The people who watched his games, knew that once the opposing teams had seen some tape on him, he really couldn't offer much and didn't seem interested in learning.

Which brings me back to Michael Sam. He's on the small side to play defense in the league. Can he? That is to be determined. Other guys "his size" (if you saw him walking down the street, you wouldn't think he was a "little guy", it's only on a defensive line where that comes up) have certainly been able to make their mark. He's going to be tested, and some team is going to need the faith in his ability to grow in their system. That means not being a starter right away, and learning the game from the veterans.

I'm hoping that "The Left" gives him time and encouragement to actually do that, rather than go down the Tebow path and follow the example set by "The Right". Where "who is he" matters more than what he does on the field.


Speaking of the NFL, because again, the internet loves it... there is a proposed rule change to make "uttering racial slurs on the field" a 15 yard "unsportsmanlike conduct".

This is obviously fallout from the hazing/bullying case within the Miami Dolphin organization that has received a great deal of attention.

One of the things that was said was that they "have microphones all over the field". Which, last time I checked, wasn't true. The referees have them, and during big games you can have a couple players in the helmets. Maybe field mikes can pick up some of the stuff... but when was the last time you heard what players were saying to each other when they lined up facing each other? If this going to be a "if the Ref hears it?" Is it going to be "if someone complains?"

As a fan of the game, and of humanity as a whole, I like that the issue of racism is being taken seriously.

But this feels like it's more for show than to actually deal with an actual situation. I predict that the first time this is used to nullify a big play, in a crucial part of a game, that there will be an explosion from sports fans - and instead of making progress in our interactions with each other, that there will be a backlash against "being PC".

Especially after the last couple of seasons the NFL referees have had with blown calls and controversial decisions, you would hope that no one would be putting *more* decision-making over penalties into their hands. Especially when it comes to such an important everyday issue.

I'm hoping that the NFL can figure out how to change the culture that needs to be changed without distracting from the actual sport.



( 47 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 25th, 2014 02:57 pm (UTC)
Talking about football on livejournal - it's like I'm *daring* people to sign up for next season! ;)

Feb. 25th, 2014 05:11 pm (UTC)
At least you're giving folks a sporting chance!

Feb. 25th, 2014 03:50 pm (UTC)
Feb. 25th, 2014 03:57 pm (UTC)
The tie-in is meta.

The challenge of talking about important issues without distracting from the competition itself.

That's definitely something that has come up in the past.
Feb. 25th, 2014 03:59 pm (UTC)
Fine. I'll accept your important issue, I GUESS.

Honestly, I don't know how they'd be able to enforce something like slurs on the field unless every player wore a mic, and I could see it easily getting into murky territory when one slur isn't called but another is.
Feb. 25th, 2014 04:41 pm (UTC)
That's most definitely going to come up.

Considering the NFL policy against bashing the league in the media, I wonder what the fall out of that happening will be with players directly impacted by something that was missed on social media.
Feb. 25th, 2014 04:02 pm (UTC)
When did "meta" come to mean "not at all related to?" ;)
Feb. 25th, 2014 04:38 pm (UTC)

The start of the new season got me thinking about older seasons and various things that have come up.

One of the more difficult moments (for me) have come when there are two contestants engaging each other when I end up agreeing with one of them on the issue at hand. (and especially when I extremely disagree with the other one)

But I have to let them play it out, because the game isn't about that issue, and if someone makes themselves out to be an idiot the voters tend to send that message pretty clearly.

People do get upset with me for not intervening though, which usually means pissing off people that I actually agree with!

Which is what reminded me of the NFL rule change proposal - something that I would normally agree with that I see a lot of problems with how it might be implemented.
Feb. 26th, 2014 03:19 pm (UTC)
Ah, I see! Granted I am a big fan of detachment as it pertains to other people's interactions, but I really appreciate that you do not intervene. It is one of the hallmarks of integrity in this competition. And let's face it, this place needs all the integrity it can get with all of us running around and you throwing all your evil intentions at us. ;)
Feb. 25th, 2014 04:06 pm (UTC)
Right or wrong, whatever that means, when you have big burly men paid millions of dollars to fight each other in a public forum, seems like you expect or even want them to employ every tactic, including shit-talking on the field.
Feb. 25th, 2014 04:40 pm (UTC)
There definitely does tend to be quite a bit of "shit talking" going on, to get people off their guard and/or jump before the ball is snapped.

The NFL has been tweaking things over the years to lessen collisions and (of course) protect Tom Brady. ;)

It makes me curious where things are heading for the sport.
Feb. 26th, 2014 03:24 pm (UTC)
I love football. I do not love Tom Brady. (grrrr) I think it's great they are finally starting to address the whole head trauma issue. However, my shallowness has me more intrigued by the news I heard over the weekend that the NFL is expanding into Europe to the point of consideration of hosting a Super Bowl there. What will the fans think??
Feb. 25th, 2014 05:09 pm (UTC)
The only tactic I agree with is sending in the lions.

Those Romans were WAY ahead of their time, if you ask me.
Feb. 26th, 2014 03:25 pm (UTC)
*cracks up laughing*
Feb. 25th, 2014 04:50 pm (UTC)
I think it's interesting how much football is a game of personalities. Maybe it's always been this way - I was more into the sport when I was a little kid, and coming to it sort of sideways as an adult now I'm like "ok, but why do I care what this quarterback says? Shouldn't it be about the game?"

But that is a lot of the game - it's how people get invested in it. It's a fun parallel to Idol (and yeah, I do see what you're doing there). Shouldn't it be about the writing, after all? Of course. And it is. Just like in football, you can't score if you fumble the ball (or the words). But people pay more attention and care about you getting the ball into the end zone if you engage with them, and thus it becomes more than just the game as defined by the rules.

Still dithering, btw. Dither dither dither....
Feb. 25th, 2014 05:10 pm (UTC)
If only we got paid millions of dollars for our Idol time!

*dithers with you*
Feb. 25th, 2014 05:22 pm (UTC)
Heh. Have you read The Eyre Affair? One of the things I love about that book (and series) is that the people of the world are SO invested and into literary stuff. People get into fist fights in bars over theories as to the true identity of the author of Shakespeare's plays. It's incredibly awesome and amusing. In that world, LJI would be high paid and high stakes. I'm pretty ok with the mundane (though still considerable) pressure the game brings to bear without great gobs of money being on the line.

I always appreciate company while dithering. Dither dither dither.... though I suspect we're dithering over different things. You're definitely playing, yes?
Feb. 25th, 2014 05:29 pm (UTC)
Cynthia actually introduced me to Jasper Fforde's work!

It's amusing as long as people don't go inside of Idol entries and start changing them!!
Feb. 25th, 2014 09:46 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, I read The Eyre Affair a few years ago, plus several of Fforde's sequels. Jane Eyre has always been a favorite of mine (I guess I'm fond of books with unwanted orphans in them, LOL), so reading TEA was a must-do.

I'm not dithering about playing, you are correct about that - I *will* be signing up ASAP, as I *must* reach my 100 Weeks mark, as I'm at 99 now since the Exhibit weeks don't count towards weeks played!
Feb. 25th, 2014 06:34 pm (UTC)
The answer you are looking for is "yes".

Did you see my announcement? I've officially opened Season 9 to previous winners. So there isn't even that argument anymore! :)

Feb. 25th, 2014 07:06 pm (UTC)
Winners of mini-seasons would have been ok to play anyway.
Feb. 25th, 2014 07:16 pm (UTC)
Yes, of course they would.
Feb. 25th, 2014 08:10 pm (UTC)
Ah, but the dithering over having won a mini-season was only one small part of the larger picture dither! (And to be honest, other winners potentially coming back does very little to make me feel less weird about playing. My internal weirdness has little to no connection to other people in this instance). Really the big question is over-commitment. If the answer I'm waiting on comes back "no", then I'm in all the way. If it comes back "yes", then I'm not, because I won't play knowing that I'd have to take six weeks off for a different intense writing thingy. That wouldn't be fair - every week before that where I didn't get voted out and someone else did would be me cheating someone else out of a shot at the spotlight.
Feb. 25th, 2014 08:14 pm (UTC)
Now you have me rooting against your success! ;P
Feb. 25th, 2014 08:18 pm (UTC)
Don't worry. The odds are definitely in your favor. :P And of course, even if I don't play, I'll be around. You got me hooked, you fiend.

It's kind of awesome having this sort of choice to make, a sort of heads-I-win tails-I-win situation. We'll see... we'll see...

Edited at 2014-02-25 08:20 pm (UTC)
Feb. 25th, 2014 08:23 pm (UTC)
Of just get into the program, and encourage all of the other writers to join Idol!!!

Then it can be a group exercise! :D

Everyone wins! But mostly me!

Feb. 25th, 2014 08:39 pm (UTC)
Heh. If I thought it were possible, I'd do it.

Waiting for answers is hard. I may just assume I'm not getting in (a prettttty damn safe assumption from where I'm sitting right now) and sign-up for Idol if I haven't heard by the third.
Feb. 25th, 2014 08:41 pm (UTC)
Did they give you a "You'll be notified by..." date?
Feb. 25th, 2014 08:43 pm (UTC)
No. Just "March". And the deadline for applications is March 1st. I'm fairly certain they're being read by the committee as they come in, and I sent mine in way ahead of deadline (still later than I intended, but you know). So maybe it'll be a super prompt response but... argh.

Edit: rereading some emails I see that it actually says "you will be notified by the end of March". Double argh.

Edited at 2014-02-25 08:47 pm (UTC)
Feb. 25th, 2014 09:50 pm (UTC)
Good luck with your application!

Since you probably won't hear back until the end of March, you can either a) Sign up anyway, then drop out if needed - we will only be in maybe week 3 by then, so there won't have been too many eliminated (maybe) by that point, or b) Wait and see if there is a Second Chance sign-up, and do that if you get a negative response.
Feb. 25th, 2014 11:52 pm (UTC)
Seconding the (a) option. If you get a "yes", sacrifice during a poll and then you are actually SAVING someone from elimination and can feel good about yourself! :)
Feb. 26th, 2014 02:57 pm (UTC)
FWIW, I've been mulling Option (a) above. (I expect I'll change my mind 27 times between now and sign-ups ... and I'm still holding out for the exclamation point next to my name in the sidebar.)

That said, I think it'd be pretty cool for someone (not that I'm pointing fingers here (but I mean you specifically)) to "legitimize" the Exhibits by going through and cleaning the clocks of all those people who keep saying "Those weren't real seasons" by, y'know, winning. :-)

Feb. 26th, 2014 03:34 pm (UTC)
Your life is now complete!
Feb. 26th, 2014 04:57 pm (UTC)
How about we both sign up and potentially drop out if we need to (retaining the right to waffle until the last minute, of course). That way there's double the chances of legitimizing the exhibits (triple, if Zephyrly signs up too!). For what it's worth, I think they were plenty legit. Not just 'cause we won. ;)
Feb. 26th, 2014 05:36 pm (UTC)
It's a thought, to be sure. (And even if I don't sign up, I might still try something ridiculous like Home-game my way through a single serial novel.)

And I agree, the Exhibits were legit. But (to tie back into the original topic) h8ers gotta h8. (See? I'm topical!)
Feb. 25th, 2014 08:47 pm (UTC)
When it comes to returning players, Idol is the victim of it's own success.

The people who WANT to go into writing, tend to do really well after playing Idol and get too busy to come back.

Fortunately, we also have a lot of people who just want to write for the sake of writing! Those people are awesome, because they come for the fun and keep coming back!

Edited at 2014-02-25 08:47 pm (UTC)
Feb. 25th, 2014 08:52 pm (UTC)
I think it's awesome that there's such a wide spectrum of writers, writing for such a wide variety of reasons, in Idol. We're a diverse bunch, and you've done a good job putting together something that has a draw to people sort of vaguely aiming at professional publishing OR just playing around with no aspirations in that area OR serious business author types. We all coexist in the pressure cooker together to make a delicious stew1. And many folks change their minds about their relationship to writing while doing Idol, shifting from one stance to another. It's good stuff.

1. Soylent green is people. Tasty, tasty people.

Edited at 2014-02-25 08:52 pm (UTC)
Feb. 25th, 2014 07:01 pm (UTC)
I see what you did thar, Gary. I like the meta-connection to Idol, here. A lot. ;)

Football and football culture fascinates me but I could never, ever really dedicate the time to fully understand it. In the end, if the kid can play, the kid can play, and that's all that should matter to people.

The bit about slurs just makes me feel uneasy, if only because it'll open up a whole world of "What is and isn't a slur," and enforcement issues, etc. I doubt that is going to end well.
Feb. 25th, 2014 07:20 pm (UTC)
"In the end, if the kid can play, the kid can play, and that's all that should matter to people"


If you can't play though, it shouldn't matter if people really, really want you to be good because you are in their demographic. *cough* Tebow /*cough*
Feb. 25th, 2014 07:24 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the slurs things worries me as well. I find myself actually rooting that it *doesn't* get passed. Which makes me feel even worse, because then "racial slurs = yay"????

There are definitely some grey areas here.
Feb. 25th, 2014 07:35 pm (UTC)
I almost don't want it to get passed, either. That's just -- okay, I understand WHY they want to put an end to racial slurs being slung on the field. Racial slurs are awful.

But can they really police it fairly in a way that won't just make things extremely complicated? I am not envious of the refs who'll have to enforce it, if it passes. Not at all.
Feb. 25th, 2014 07:45 pm (UTC)
I'm grateful that they are addressing the Miami situation.

But that seems like something that can be done on an organizational level, with each of the teams cracking down on things internally. I hope they do a lot more of that.

Putting the emphasis on the field, during a game, creates a whole different thing that is going to involve a lot of subjectivity (usually unsportsmanlike conduct involves someone throwing a punch or taunting, both easy to recognize).
Feb. 25th, 2014 07:04 pm (UTC)
I hadn't heard about the new rule about racist comments. Don't get me wrong, I think people should respect each other and be grown-ups. It just surprises me from an organization where animal abusers, rapists, spouse-batterers, etc. are welcome, and get paid millions of dollars a year to play a ball game.

Feb. 25th, 2014 07:18 pm (UTC)
They are also the organization that has a huge breast cancer awareness campaign.

There are highs and lows in any group.
Feb. 25th, 2014 08:01 pm (UTC)
I don't understand anything about this. Being British, I understand the word 'football'... the rest of it just went over my head.

Still can't decide whether to play or not. I am writing well at the moment, but I have so much stress in my life that I am wary about adding any more... I guess I'll just see how I feel come Monday.
Feb. 25th, 2014 08:05 pm (UTC)
You want to do it. :)

I'll ask someone to make sure.

*confers with self*

*nods* Yep, you want to do it.

Feb. 27th, 2014 01:13 pm (UTC)
Heh, I guess if both of you say I want to do it... that means I want to do it.

( 47 comments — Leave a comment )

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