Friday, December 10, 2010

"The Game Must Go On"

I'm a contrarian. What's a contrarian? It's not what you think it is. Though that might just be a contrarian's opinion.

A contrarian is traditionally viewed as a person who sees things differently from the vast majority of humanity. I have a contrarian view to that. To me, a contrarian is a person who sees the exact same things everyone else sees, the difference being that the contrarian chooses to talk about those things, while everyone else, for reasons I will explain shortly, prefers not to.

I see examples of this phenomenon on the cable news shows that I promise myself I'll stop watching and then watch every day. A commentator discusses the advantage that disproportionate infusions of money has on an election race, and then says,

"We all know that money affects the outcome of an election, but setting that issue aside..."


How can you set that issue aside? Campaign financing the Mother of all Issues. Why? Because it directly affects every other issue, in that the other issues can not be reasonably dealt with until
the "money" issue is dealt with first.

The candidates with the most money generally, though not always, win the election. Those candidates then write the laws, inevitably influenced, as to how those laws are to be written, by their contributors. It can be no other way. Listening in on Congresspeople's phone conversations, it's unlikely that you'll ever hear,

"Thanks for the money. I'm voting against your interests. And by the way, my next campaign's in two years, and I could really use your support."

That doesn't happen. Bi-partisanly. And yet, the "money" issue having been set aside, the discussions on cable news proceed vigorously, and unimpeded. It makes no sense.

Why does nobody complain? Because, despite the fact that it makes no sense, people still like to watch the shows. And people really like doing the shows. It makes them rich, and strangers smile at them at the supermarket.

You just gotta do the show. Even if it means "setting aside" the only issue that really matters.


I'm watching a basketball game on TV with a buddy. It's (L.A.) Lakers versus (the San Antonio) Spurs. It's a Lakers "away" game; they're playing on San Antonio's home court. The game begins. The announcer babbles his play-by-play, and off we go.

The Lakers fall behind. They seem out of sync. They look off balance. Their passes are going awry. Their shots are just missing. As the game moves on, they appear listless, a step behind their opponents. They are starting to look tired.

It is then I realize that something is different. Not jarringly different. Just a little bit "off."

At first, I can't believe it. It's probably me. Or an optical illusion. I rub my eyes, and look again. Nope. It's still there.

The thing I've noticed - and that nobody seems to be mentioning - is that the floor of the San Antonio basketball court has somehow been tilted, such that one team, in this case the Lakers,
has to continually play "uphill."

Having confirmed this to myself, I disclose my discovery to my companion.

"The court is tilted against the Lakers."

The reply to which is,

"You would think so, the way they're playing."

"I'm telling you, it's tilted. This thing is rigged. The Lakers can't win."

"Man! Kobe really doesn't have it tonight."

"The floor. Is tilted!"

"Just watch the game, okay?"

I look on in twitchy silence. This can't be possible. Am I the only one who sees this? I repeat my charge of blatant unfairness. My companion humors me.

"When they change sides after halftime, the Lakers will be playing 'downhill'."

The teams return after halftime, the Lakers down by double digits. The court is still tilted. But now, it's in the other direction. The Lakers will be playing "uphill" the entire game!

I am unable to remain silent.

"It's tilted the other way!"

My outburst is totally ignored. Though I am not offered another beer. My companion pontificates on the reasons the Lakers are losing - too many turnovers, faulty play-calling, inadequate conditioning. While completely ignoring what's staring him in the face!

I am not for the most part hallucinatory. I see what I see. And I'm convinced I'n not special.
Others, I believe, see the exact same thing I do. But there's a difference.

I care about the consequences of what I'm noticing. Their focus is exclusively no the game, the determining question being, "If there were a choice between a rigged game or no game at all, which one would you prefer?"

It does not even seem to be close.

The Game must go on.

Everything else is irrelevant.

Excluding the opinion of the contrarian.

By the way, this is true. Off all the major sports, none of them reflects a greater "home court advantage" than basketball.

I would really take another look at those floors.


Dimension Skipper said...

Yeah! We contrarians should unite so we could really get some things accomplished.

Uh-oh. Wait a minute...

Never mind...

Gary said...

Was it the Buchmans who had the slanted living room floor? Good thing the Knicks-Lakers never played in their apt. Saw your episode of Becker - Lucky Day - recently; very good. I know, that has nothing to do w/today's post, just wanted to mention it before I forget, again.

Bruce said...

Love your blog Earl.

This post reminded of an old saying I heard about how they would poke the eyes out of cynics because most people saw the world the way they wanted it to be but cynics kept pointing out the way it really was or something like that.

And Ken's got a great gift from the Sky Mall to help with the cat.