Bad week for posting or paying attention to sports with classes starting Sunday of all things; may have to work a permanent solution to this. Popping up to note three things:
1. Hard Knocks is a fun show and all, but whoever decided to show the Jets’ coaching staff reading ESPN.com comments on them is out of his or her mind. DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS. If they read youtube comments sections next week, I give up. Also, the amount of product placement on that show is out of hand. It’s like watching “The Nike Swoosh Hour (Featuring Rex Ryan & His Orchestra).”
2. Give me Chad Dawson over Jean Pascal this weekend. Jab, jab, jabjabjabjab, jab, jabbity-jab-jab-jab, Jab Judah, jab, jab. UDEC12. Jab. Hopefully more than the 10,000+ Pascal supporters in the building actually watch this fight, because for a fighter as good as Dawson to have so little fan support is just tragic. A lot of it is mis-promotion and some of it is that he has a paint-drying style for anyone but a boxing purist; only one of those may be curable, but hopefully this fight raises his name recognition if nothing else.
3. Buyrates. Sonnen/Silva did approximately 800,000-1M, which shows you the value of a great talker; Marquez-Diaz did 150,000-200,000. Now, a reasonable person looks at that second number and sees several things which are likely to be feeding into it: that Marquez as the preeminent Mexican fighter of the moment is a bigger draw than realized; that a loaded undercard (of sorts) can help drive buys; and that in a summer where even vaguely respectable boxing cards have been conspicuously thin on the ground, pent-up demand can carry even a mediocre card to unexpected heights. Boxing’s response to this so far is: try to feed Marquez to Amir Khan, a nothing draw in America who has the wrong style for and a ton of size and age on the older fighter; no loaded undercard shows scheduled upcoming; and a return to HBO PPV with Shane Mosley vs. Sergio Mora, one of the worst PPV headliners of recent times and one which is guaranteed to hobble the market. Nobody learns anything in this sport. And don’t even get me started on Dirrell/Ward being postponed indefinitely and possibly canceled, Alfredo Angulo following Kelly Pavlik in turning down a shot at middleweight world champion Sergio Martinez, Alexander Povetkin fleeing into the night in terror of the Klitschkos, Luis Fucking CoFuckingLazzo demanding more money when he can’t even get a fight lined up, the sport-wide freeze-out of Celestino Caballero….
These things matter because even with relative hardcores, they affect how much you can really care about a sport. Right now I have last night’s Bellator on my DVR which I will watch, time permitting, along with tonight’s Strikeforce Challengers show; there’s also a ton of boxing on tonight on various channels featuring solid fights with under-the-radar guys, but I’m skipping all of that because it’s impossible to get emotionally invested in the careers of guys in a sport where the only guarantee is that most of the best fights won’t get made. 5 or 10 years ago I’d have been eagerly anticipating ShoBox and Friday Night Fights and I would actually know what number Telefutura was on my cable system; now, meh, whatever. I have studying to do and I should go for a run. It’s not an accident that my interest in MMA has reached the point where I can correctly preview and actually care about the results of fights like, say, Rickipedia Story vs. Dustin Hazlett but could not possibly care about the boxing equivalent thereof; and those buyrate numbers listen above should tell you that I am hardly alone on this. The biggest boxing fights are bigger than the biggest UFCs (for now) but the population of fans who care enough to pay out month by month and carry the sport isn’t even close anymore, and that is not an accident. Something needs to be done.
Instead, we get the return of Michael Grant to PPV headliners in a couple of weeks. Go read Dan Rafael’s chat and compare the number of questions about actual made fights to the questions about what-if fights which will never happen; it’s a fucking tragedy.
Who had April in the pool for “first legal issue involving a New York Jet in 2010″?
How long until the Jets call the Steelers? And when they do, do they get call waiting because Al Davis is tying up the line? Will the buyer’s remorse over whoever trades for ROFLcopter exceed that experienced by the Celtics over ‘Sheed this year (and next, and the one after that)? So many questions still to be answered. Personally I’m hoping he ends up in Oakland to mentor JaMarcus Russell, because sometimes I like to root for awful things.
The 2010 New York Jets have exactly two possible endpoints for the season as of now: they are either going to be the 1978 New York Yankees, or the 2000 Portland Trailblazers. If nothing else it’s going to be fascinating trying to figure out which it’s going to be, and it will probably take all season until we get our answer.
(Hint: it’s the Jailblazers)
…did the Jets just trade for the DB equivalent of Braylon Edwards?
That game was an abomination in the eyes of man, God & nature. Sanchez will probably never have a worse game in his professional career, and without Thomas Jones being awesome this game wouldn’t have even been this close. Yes, it could be worse- we could be the Titans AKA the Titanics- but there needs to be some serious confidence-boosting work done before the next game, because these are the kinds of losses which just kill a team.
In further news, between the G-Men leaving for New Orleans without their talent, the Jets losing at home to a hideous team and the Andre Dirrell decision, this has been a pure shite weekend for sports! Here’s hoping SNF is fun. I need UFC 104 to get here already.
That’s a pretty decent amount to give up, AND the guy’s contract is due after the year AND he apparently wants pretendous money AND he’s a drop machine AND you’re going to let his drops fuck with the head of a rookie QB AND he’s under investigation for picking on midgets outside a club at 2 AM AND you’ve decided to add this guy to the New York party circuit AND it’s a quarter of the way through the year and he doesn’t know the offense. What’s the downside!!!!
This is why you should never be excited about the Jets until the parade starts- because until then, they’re still the Jets.
This will hopefully be the only time we do this.
I’m writing a quick rebuttal to Sean’s response to my post, as I feel what I actually wrote was severely misrepresented.
– I have not said All Arsenal Supporters Are…anything. Doing so would be precisely opposed to the point I was trying to make, and in fact I went out of my way to name several blogs and their readers who I feel have acted well in this instance. The trouble is that they represent either lesser read blogs, or minority trends in the general current of fandom. Some, such as ANR, are more often brought up to be mocked and dismissed than for any other reason.
– My point about the mobbishness of Arsenal supporters draws on two facts.
1) The major Arsenal blogs are, with the exception of Le Grove, mostly interlinked; they are also in direct contact on and off with people who work for the club, as is clear in their writing. Thus, in some respect (especially when they begin to be quoted in the press as representative Arsenal fans) they represent the club and are held up by the club as an, possibly the, important aspect of the way in which the club and the fans meet. They garner this attention because they represent the largest organized factions of fans, and to a degree they represent those fans because of the attention they receive from the media and the club itself. It’s fair to say on that basis that, as noted above, while ALL fans cannot be grouped together in any way, the LARGEST ORGANIZED FACTIONS of fans are clearly identifiable. And yes, those people are the ones I’m largely speaking about- that, combined with things like the wildly variable crowd reactions in the stadium. Vox vulgaris, vox fanbase.
2) All of this is new with Arsenal fans. As I specifically stated in my post, it is NOT new for football fans; as I said, it’s more or less what I’d expect out of Madrid fans. What makes it new is the unhinged, violently emotional quality of it, plus the fact that it’s being lead by specific people who have great influence on the fanbase, and who derive that influence partly by being tacitly endorsed by the club itself. Those two factors were not in place, say, five years ago. Thus in my estimation there’s been a major swing just this year as fans have grown frustrated with the team and look to take out that anger on whatever target is handy, preferably an external one. Compare, for example, the treatment of Alexander Hleb and Jose Reyes (or Julio Baptista) when each of them left the club; neither did much of anything at Arsenal and left under a cloud in dubious circumstances, but only the former gets called a cunt, constantly, and abused in the most vicious and personal terms. That doesn’t mean these fans are about to be Roman ultras (a charge I never made); it does mean that I don’t know where they’re going to be this time next season- and neither, really, does anyone else. The mood of Arsenal fans, and probably how low some are willing to sink, ultimately will depend on results. The mindset, however, is increasingly coming to resemble the worst of football fans, and it’s very telling how both evaluation of and basic decency towards a player can now alter so radically based on which shirt he’s in. I’m hardly the only one to notice this: any blog you choose will have one or two people complaining about “the new fans” on it in the comments section; and whether the change is due to new fans or not, the recognition of a change having taken place is widespread.
– And the larger point about tribalism: it’s disrespectful and wrong to wholly identify tribalism with passion. It demeans someone who strives to achieve without the goad of hatred for another, who can give their best and care whole-heartedly without needing to see an enemy brought low in the process. Tribalism endorses the worst in human nature, the pathetic sad and disgraceful leftovers of evolution which fill us with hate and fear at things which are new or different. Playing with it and indulging it just a little is like having just a little heroin, except that the person you so endanger may not just be yourself. Worse than that, it doesn’t even work to diffuse anger or hatred safely; if anything it encourages those feelings, which is of no little moment to understanding the importance of this. If you hate someone today just a little because he’s got the wrong shirt on, just for a few hours…what will you be ready to hate tomorrow? What are you allowing yourself to become? Pitch invasions and riots aren’t the alternative- they’re where this road is leading, where it’s ended up so many times in the past. Better to encourage people to use the more honorable parts of their nature, to demonstrate the passion without hate of which humans are equally capable. For my part, I would be better than the most base of my instincts.
I have a personal stake in this. Sean and I will never see eye to eye on this issue and there’s many reasons for that, but one of the really key ones is that I’m not straight. I consider it a minor detail about myself, personally, but this is one of those situations where, along with having been raised in and around a political activist environment, it makes all the difference. This is not a theoretical discussion for me; the fear and the danger of being part of the wrong tribe in someone’s opinion is part of my life, and so the understanding of that part of human nature is a necessity. It took me probably 12 years from when I first realized I was at all attracted to men to admit it to anyone other than myself, and when I did it was because I’d simply hit a point of misery so profound that I didn’t care what anyone thought or what the consequences were anymore. I’ve only written the words down twice in public, of which this is the second occasion. In 4 years of college I mentioned it exactly once, which was coincidentally the same number of times I was insulted for my lack of religious beliefs by a professor whose class I was taking- different tribe, I suppose. Since then, only my family and a few close friends know of it; because of course, when I go out socially and hear the word “fag” thrown around 15 times in half an hour, it’s just easier to pretend and pass as part of someone else’s tribe. That does make me a coward, but it also makes me wise enough now to know what tribalism means in practice for those without custom or numbers to shield them.
There was one exception to my silence about sexuality: I had a good friend many years ago who I’d known forever, and to whom I mentioned it in passing once. I’ve not spoken to him in at least 8 years now. Perhaps I wasn’t part of his tribe anymore.
What is the alternative, then? When I tune in to watch a sporting event or go to an arena, I go to see skill, professionalism, technique, athleticism; people pulling together as a team and striving to achieve a goal as a unit, or else the greatness of the truly superior individual athlete who describes in the arc of a career the heights to which humanity may aspire. I want to find out what works in a sport, why, and what that tells us about human nature and the world beyond the arena walls and the roar of the crowd. I do not go in order to hate, say, New Jersey Devils fans and revel in the injury to Martin Brodeur, even though he and they are among the bitterest and most long-standing of local rivals. Personally I consider it a tragedy when arguably the greatest goaltender ever is out- both because greatness impaired is always a small tragedy, and because those occasions when the Rangers have beaten him when he was at his best are among my favorite sports memories (“Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!”) precisely because they beat the absolute best. I can’t hate the Devils (or Manchester United, or the Celtics, etc.)- I respect and admire them. If I didn’t, why would beating them mean anything? Compare this to the reaction to Phil Brown from some Arsenal fans: if they truly believe he’s as much of a rotten, low-account son of a bitch as they say he is, a liar and a cheat, why be so incensed about anything he says? What value could it have? But then the value to them is solipsistic, and lies in what it can be used for- it can be hated, and he can be a figure to focus all that rage on. A good two minutes’ worth you might say, if the mood struck you.
When I root for my team, I root because they represent the city of my birth, or my father’s birth in the case of Frankfurt, or because they’re my national team (or the German national team who I’ve adopted; and yes, your joke about the guy who likes men rooting for Mannschaft goes here), and because I want to see them do well and achieve. There may be opposing teams or groups of fans which I find distasteful (say, internet MMA fans), but it’s not because they’re different, or they have the wrong shirts on; it’s because, in my estimation, they merit it through ill conduct or general foolishness. If the quality of posts on Sherdog increased 100% tomorrow, I’d be happy to praise them- it’d be more good writing to read and an asset to the sport, and I derive no emotional satisfaction out of thinking they’re wrong and misguided. For the same reason, you’ll see me more than once have little good to say about a player for a team I support- Sean “Captain Dickhead” Avery’s a good example- if I feel they merit it for conduct, but also show little interest in obsessing about and reveling in the misfortunes of such players when they’ve moved on. I can’t recall having written anything in months about Zach Randolph, Jason Kidd, Stephon Marbury’s .304 FG%, etc. all of whom left teams I support under testy circumstances. Intellectual honesty, sportsmanship and respect for the self and others demand no less. Hate and schadenfreude leave me unmoved, not because I’m any better than average, but because I make a conscious effort to rise above the tribal instinct. What I do, so too may you, and be a better man for it.
In the end I’m not accusing Arsenal fans of being violent, or evil, or totalitarian, or anything on that line. I am saying that they’re coming to increasingly embrace tribalism, which is probably the most destructive of human instincts, and that to understand why it is so requires you to walk for a while in the shoes of those targeted by it. The whims and attitudes of a football fanbase may be the most petty of instances of this, but it still matters; and all the more so when there are other and better ways of being a fan- ways that, in some small measure, may ennoble the spirit instead of dragging it down into the muck. Football is the world’s game, touching the lives of billions of people on every continent. Better, then, that those with some influence and standing in the game try to make it an influence for good, rather than a license to be squalid. Imagine if that were the Arsenal Way.