April 25, 2007

Perspective- damn pesky thing- interferes with what you do, worse, with what you want to do. Of course, it can also keep you from screwing everything up. It can also be a constant, recurrent, even obnoxious reminder of what things are really like. The ever-increasing lack of perspective in our society is so pervasive, so malignant, at this time that we can no longer afford to ignore it.

“To err is human, to forgive divine.” To err again and again and again- eventually on purpose- is worse than human and to forgive pervasive racketeering and abuse of power is not divine. It is stupid. Trent Lott has a drink, praises Strom Thurmond, not for his racism, but for his ability as a Parliamentarian, and he is immediately deprived of his leadership position. Acting President Bush’s Campaign people call Mr. McCain a “N***er Lover” and the acting President does not apologize, nor does a true racist, Mr. Corker, apologize for his obscene racist campaign bite against Harold Ford. [1]

The problem lies in the excuses. Both the acting President and Mr. Corker, for instance, think that their agendas are more important than the Constitution and common decency.

Sports, unfortunately, is a microcosm of the government, I think. For instance, former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, in fixing football games, always felt that it was “for the good of the game.” Helping the most viewed teams win, increases ratings and interest in the NFL. NBA Commissioner Stern “strongly suggesting” to officials on how to officiate in certain games and favoring Superstars like Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman helped the most popular Chicago Bulls win a few extra championships with mediocre, badly injured teams.

Most dangerously, the NHL owners chose Mr. Stern’s “protege,” Gary Bettman, to increase their fortunes. Sadly, letting “superstars” run amuck and not calling penalties against them, does not work well in the violence of the NHL. Mr. Bettman’s policy led directly to a rash of seriously injured players and even criminal charges. Also, poor Eric Lindros, who, for a time, was forced to be the dirtiest player in hockey, was reprimanded several times by vigilante colleagues by the “clothesline” technique. This almost killed him and caused him to miss over a year of play due to recurrent concussions.

Meanwhile, protest by coaches, players, owners and officials in all three leagues is still met with huge fines and behind-the-scenes threats of blackballing. Perspective dictates calling this “racketeering,” but the media calls it “tough luck.” Gamblers call it any number of 4-letter words. Luckily, since no one listens to poor Mr. Selig, who can’t even change the stike zone, baseball games don’t seem to be fixed.

Perspective- it’s such a pesky thing, a painful thing.

Ignorance has become a way of life. It is very painful for a fan, a hard working John Doe, rooting with all his heart for those 3 hours, to realize that the game does not hinge on his star player or the Coach’s decision or the mistakes his general manager made in the draft. It hinges on the decision, before the game, even before the season, that would help one team and not the other. It is painful to watch the announcer try to convince you that what you actually saw was not what you saw. You didn’t see Michael Jordan punch the defender with his right hand and score with his left. You saw Mr. Jordan deftly switch the ball to his left hand while the defender clumsily fouled him on the hand with his nose. And, when Philadelphia played Los Angeles, you saw Shaquille O’Neal continuously fouled by Mutombo’s pesky head hitting him in the elbow.

How is it different than President Kennedy being shot in both the front and back of the head- as shown on the Zabruder tapes- while Oswald magically “beamed” himself between the book repository and the grassy noll. (We may never know since “Scotty” has died.)

How are acting Presidents Cheney and Bush different than Paul Tagliabue, who apologized, time after time, because his officials “didn’t know the rule?” It is difficult to “know the rules” when your Commissioner or acting President makes them up as he goes along.

Allen Finkelstein, D.O.

[1] Unfortunately, I cannot bring myself to call Misters Cheney and Bush real Presidents in the same article with the real President, Kennedy.