Posts Tagged ‘Sports’

By Scarlett DeRousse, RMU Student.

America: land of the hot dog, apple pie, and the nation’s favorite pastime: baseball. As April rolls in, all is normal and well as the first pitches are thrown, and American cities can begin to hate each other once more. A wave of excitement and hope sweeps across the nation as fans root for their currently flawless team. But this excitement is not as strong anywhere as it is in Chicago with the Chicago Cubs. Writing for the Tribune, David Haugh saw that”the enthusiasm of Cubs fans made its presence felt in the first outing of 2016″.  Of course, a “blank slate” is nothing new for the Cubs, but it is April so their hearts are in October. I guess Nelson Algren was speaking the truth when he said that “Chicago is an October sort of city even in spring”. This time, though, it is not just fans who are living on hopes of the future: According to Haugh, “On day one, the Cubs already were thinking as if it will be a long one”. Last years near success, changed the team’s focus to “staying fresh for September and October”. It is a long time until October’s playoffs, but all eyes will be watching the Cubs, especially in Chicago and St. Louis.


during game four of the National League Division Series at Wrigley Field on October 13, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.

“In baseball, as in life, all important things happen at home,” and so my heart is with my home team in St. Louis. I was raised on the bleachers outside those dusty fields, so naturally I have a love of the game. Unfortunately, I ended up in the city of my home team’s rival. My presence in Chicago for everything else grew and intertwined myself deeper with the city, but my love of the game has never made me feel more like an outfielder. As the season takes it opening, I become a little less Chicagoan.  I love this city, but I hate it’s team.This part of myself, however, is at risk with the potential success of the Cubs. This side of my identity is built on the confidence against my new town, and the win of a World Series would crush my St. Louis pride. Would I be a Cubs fan? Absolutely not! It would, however, take away the superiority and confidence I receive as being a Cardinals fan.

However, with a history like the Cubs, it is unlikely they will make history.

While the Cubs may have been caught up in their fantasies last season, reality hit like a st_louis_cardinals_fans_23bnne8z_s9dcey67fastball. Apparently, that reality wasn’t hard enough to crush the hopes for next season; that hope is over 100 years old, so its doubtful anything can. Even I, a Cardinals fan, cannot deny their potential. But I am no Cubs fan, so I live in reality; that potential is nothing more than potential. The Cubs may be able to get close this season to winning it all, but close doesn’t make dreams come true. The Cubs will lose, I will stay rooted in my Cardinal identity, and I will always root root root for my home team.


By Peter Stern, Philosophy Faculty. 

My life in sports! Where to begin? “Begin at the beginning,” you marvelously faithful Turtles intone to yourselves in unison, despite all manner of post and even pre modern distractions. OK, sure. But not so fast. Don’t you see: there’s a rub here. For where exactly is the beginning? Who can say with absolute 100 % Cartesian certainty where the beginning is? And who would be willing to settle for less than 100% certainty ?

Where’s the beginning? That’s the question. Out of the great flow of life that constitutes my early existence on this great green globe I’d have to arbitrarily pluck out a moment and magically announce with hale and brimstone, sound and fury, joy and sorrow: here’s the beginning, ladies and gentlemen. Let’s start.

You see a question like where did my life in sports begin isn’tlike well, gosh I’ve got to turn the light off before I can fall asleep, or turn on the ignition so the car will run, or get a glass of water before I can drink it. No, the question concerning the beginning of my sports life is far more difficult to answer requiring probably hundreds and hundreds of hours to examine a million trillion neurological events which preceded a decision I must have made to involve myself in sports–or more likely a single sport, back in time’s unfathomable mists. And these thoughts about neurology, and my sports beginnings aren’t some arcane, mad, hare brained assertion of a confused person gone off the deep end of an extraordinarily deep cliff–say like those steep ten story stone cliffsyou see in pictures of the southern portion of the Arizona Grand Canyon.

Au contraire. This my dearest of Turtles is cutting edge, cusp of the wave, up to the minute PhD science. Hard. Straight. True. And your expectations–well, in fact, they’re examples ofsubjective, naive, vague, helter skelter, fantasy, goo goo type thinking. Pure infantile wish fulfillment with no more reality than a unicorn or a wish to pick up the phone and say a few words to Ulysses S. Grant, or Charles Dickens, or Marcel Proust.

Where was I? Oh yes: so I assume you’ll agree with me that deciding where exactly my life in sports began is a very real challenge for me and for you, too, who have far less data than do I.Moreover, in all candoor, I must confess that my difficulty in identifying the beginning of my sports life is truly formidable because in fact I have absolutely no memory at all of a first momentplaying sports or even of my first exposure watching sports being played either live or on the tube. Nothing vivid leaps into consciousness of my sitting on a couch, maybe chatting with Dad, and seeing the outlines of Wrigley Field with the Cubs battling the Reds, or the Giants, or the Cardinals, etc. Zilch. Zip. Zero.

I think I do have a vague memory–and I might well be making this up–of playing soccer in a school play ground when I was about 6 or Image7 years old. But it’s all very vague. What I remember more vividly is joining the South Chicago YMCA and deciding soon thereafter I should learn how to swim. By the way, that Y still stands on the same corner in did years ago in my youth, well before cell phones, smart phones, and computers could take pictures so they could instantly be yours without having to go to Walgreens or send them to the folks at Kodak.

Fairly quickly I did learn to swim and even joined the swimming team, but never became much of a swimmer. Water would get in my eyes, ears, nose, and throat, an experience I never could convince myself was of little consequence and that I should simply choose to ignore. Eventually–meaning I was about 10 or 11, I think–I tried out for little league and made the team, deciding I should become a catcher since not many kids wanted to play that position. For a while that worked out but, like with swimming, I became increasingly disenchanted with the unpleasantries that went along with playing catcher and decided playing little league ballwasn’t for me.

ImageOh!–and I also quit because for some reason I was lousy at the plate. Great arm but just couldn’t hit a baseball. Later I played 16 inch softball, especially during the summers at an overnight camp in Wisconsin, and discovered I couldn’t hit that huge thing either. I mean I could hit it, but very far it seldom traveled. Is I said, I did have a good arm, and did a creditable job playing third base and right field, yet my baseball career never took hold.

But at that same camp, Camp Interlocken, the great piece of sporting news for me consisted in discovering tennis and, truly with not the smallest, tiniest ounce of exaggeration, I must report it was love at first sight and, moreover, that love remains undiminished up to this very day. Exactly why this love should form and take flight I can’t explain. I’m simply glad that it did. I played fairly good tennis, but never got really good at it partly because of a few athletic deficiencies I was born with, and partly because I didn’t take the next step which was to involve myself in a reasonably serious program of tennis instruction. Tennis is a tough sport and to get to a really solid level of play taking lots of lessons is essential.

So, dear Turtles, I’ve provided here a very brief account of my life in sports–and actually I just realized I failed to tell you about my days and nights playing basketball, a topic I’ll have to take up on another occasion. Instead of talking about basketball, I’ll conclude on an entirely different note and state very simply that my life in sports didn’t end when, save for tennis, I stopped playing sports. For what I discovered about sports is that the main reason to take up sports isn’t to play it, but to talk about it. Like the famous tree in the forest which makes no sound when it falls if no one is there to notice it, so the existence of sports depends entirely on having anaudience which chooses to watch whatever game is being played and, when the game is over, get to the really serious business of discussing it endlessly, whether on line, or in a sports bar, or in your TV room, or your kitchen, or car, or at work by the proverbial water cooler.

Indeed I’m certain–absolutely certain with 100% Cartesian certitude—that without an audience to watch and discuss our sporting life, sports would lose its sponsors, and see itself slowly stop attracting people to play its games, and little by little atrophy, and finally die. For as Aristotle told us 2,500 years ago by the wine dark sea, we human beings are endowed with reason and like nothing better talking and discussing and debating and learningabout all the things they do as well as the workings of the wider world of which they’re a part.

by Paul Gaszak, English Faculty

If you haven’t heard, the Chicago Blackhawks are off to a historic start. After 24 games, they have yet to lose a game in regulation, which is an NHL record for consecutive games with a point to start the season.

(Also historically, I am bad luck for sports teams, which means the Hawks will lose now that I’ve mentioned this.)

During this streak, ESPN’s Waddle & Silvy have started all discussions of this accomplishment by playing the sound clip from Old School of Will Ferrell’s character yelling, “We’re going streaking!”

The Blackhawks have been a hot topic in sports, because streaks are recognized and celebrated in athletics. From a positive perspective,  it is difficult to be consistently successful without fail. Like the Hawks, the NBA’s Miami Heat are also notably on a 16 game win streak right now. And sports history has many famous streaks, like Cal Ripken Jr.’s consecutive starts streak and Joe DiMaggio’s hit streak.

There are also negative streaks, most infamously in Chicago is the Cubs inability to win the World Series since 1300 BCE when Moses was batting cleanup for them.

Our fascination with streaks is not just confined to sports, though. People talk streaks everyday. We may note how long we’ve gone without taking a sick day at work. We may brag (and flex) about how many consecutive days we’ve hit the gym. Sometimes it gets ridiculous like counting off the number of days in a row we’ve done something common: cooked at home, eaten the same leftovers, watched a movie.

Personally, I have several streaks going right now:

  • Consecutive weeks with a post on The Flaneur’s Turtle. I hope to carry this through all of 2013. I’ll then hold a press conference and retire from the Turtle in early 2014 – only to un-retire 14 times like Brett Favre.
  • Consecutive days of being Polish. I thought this streak was broken for a minute when I discovered how much I like Irish beer and Mexican food, then someone informed me that taste buds alone cannot alter my family heritage.
    • Also, note that this is a personal record and not a world record.
  • Consecutive days without rhythm. Every now and then, I can break out some amazing dance moves. But it has been a while.

Why do we recognize streaks, both good and bad? It seems to stem from the sense that consistency is hard. Doing something well without failing is impressive; doing something poorly without lucking into an ounce of success seems improbable.

I’m only half convinced of my conclusion, so I welcome further suggestions from the Turtle community as to why we love streaks. (And this now breaks my streak of times I was convinced by my own conclusions.)

By Michael Stelzer Jocks, History Faculty.

I just can’t look away.  The Jerry Sandusky/Penn State scandal is rocking the sports world, and the ethical, social and economic questions that it raises have me thinking.

Students and fans celebrate Joe Pa.

First of all, I am not going to recap the scandal, or deal with Sandusky. He will be spending the rest of his life in prison, and no one in their right mind feels that is not just.  That part of the scandal is black and white; the more difficult question centers around Joe Paterno, the face, football coach and benefactor of Penn State since the mid 1960s. What has dumbfounded me is that when journalists, commentators, athletes, coaches, and general fans discuss Paterno, they constantly return to one question: How will Paterno’s assisted cover up of a child predator affect his ‘legacy’?    I would hope there would be no controversy. His ‘legacy’ is now the scandal.  Case closed. Everything else he has done pales in comparison.

Many disagree. Here is what Matt Millen, a former PSU player said on ESPN after the damning Freeh Report was released last week: “My opinion is he (Paterno) made a mistake.…He (Paterno) made a mistake and it was compounded and it was over a course of time…What means something to me is what he (Paterno) stood for. And what he was. And the character part and the character side of what he was. And what he stood for was significant….It (the report) shows he was fallible…He made a mistake for whatever his reasons are. Is it spoiled? It’s absolutely spoiled but there is still a lot of good there.”

Coach K.

Millen is by no means alone in the sports world in his defense of Paterno’s ‘character’.  Perhaps the most famous person to speak out in this way was the active dean of college basketball coaches, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K).  A month ago, Coach K made it known that he thought the firing of Paterno last year after the scandal broke was not handled properly by the university.  “You had somebody who’d given six decades of service to the university and done such an incredible job…Somehow, you have to let – something has to play out and respect the fact that you’ve gone through all these experiences for six decades. And it doesn’t just go out the window, right at the end.”  In other words, ‘JoePa did lots of good, and some bad, and we shouldn’t let the bad overshadow all the good.’ Coach K is correct in his pop-philosophy that we ‘all make mistakes’; that we are all sinners and saints. His ethical philosophy falls short though with his misunderstanding that all sins are equal, and all sins can be washed away by our good deeds.

What I see here is a problem that goes beyond Paterno, and strikes at the heart of big-time athletics. Moneyed athletics seem to lack of an understandable moral hierarchy. When an athlete is important enough, small transgressions and large moral failings often mean the same thing: an athletic slap on the wrist. Insignificant slips such as public intoxication have the same consequences in the sports world as disturbing behavioral patterns, such as physically attacking your own mother.  The athletes may face different legal repercussions (notice I write MAY), but athletically, the punishment is often the same no matter what they have done.  They are made to sit for a quarter/half/game, and cheered like mad by the hometown fans when allowed to come off the bench, out of the doghouse.

I always assumed there was a limit to this type of situation.  Assault people regularly enough, and you will see your career end; your reputation ruined. In other words, the moral hierarchy of our world would eventually catch up with the ethics of athletics. However, the response to Paterno throws this into question, and unnervingly so. By covering up for a sexual predator of children, Paterno should fall within the abyss of moral approbation on all counts. In any other line of work or society, this would be the case; but not athletics. Instead, when Joe Pa was fired last year, thousands of fans took to the streets, others ‘mourned’ at his statue (that is right, statue), and athletes were abuzz on the twitter-verse saying how unjust all this was to poor ol’ Joe. They obviously thought, as with other realms of athletics, he should be forced to sit on the bench for a quarter, thus serving his penance. As the role of Joe Pa becomes more damning in this scandal, his defenders often hold even tighter to such beliefs.

Up is down, and down is up in such a world and these topsy-turvy ethical standards are making me feel a little nauseous.

By Peter Stern, Philosophy Faculty.

Lots and lots of print spilled, discussions held, and hearts broken over the Bulls almost complete demise in the playoffs.  A compelling question must arise at this point which is:  Why?  Why did the Bulls collapse?  Now that I’m teaching a sports class I can profess with greater confidence, verging but not quite reaching Cartesian Certitude, that the act of raising this question goes a long way towards explaining why sports will forever reign as the country’s number one pastime.

I’m not referring to the specific question about the Bull’s sudden collapse; instead I’m reminded that sports serves as a fabulous catalyst for generating complex and interesting issues which in turn lead to almost endless discussions about success and failure, nature and nurture, individual vs. group performance, fate and free will, for starters.  I’m also struck how these discussions point to a deep usually unarticulated yearning, at least among sport interlocutors, for truth, justice, beauty, and immortal fame.

And, lest this all sounds too academic, pompous,  and/or  grandiose, let me add that sports and sporting events also gives (gave) rise to that most wonderful of all sports creations, yes, I’m thinking of trash talking.  Before this extraordinary term became popular, I thought I was intelligently engaged in friendly discussions about minor issues whose outcomes mattered little to me or anyone else.  Again, that was in the pre trashing talking era or PTE, for short.

I now realize, however, much to my dismay, that a good deal of my discussions involved talking trash.  Not all of it, true, but a goodly amount nonetheless.  So I discovered, I think, that many of these conversations simply continued, by other means, the competition my discussants and I were busy debating.   And this so called discovery of mine offers still more evidence for why sports discussions should remain for a long time to come a favorite national past time for both athletes and non athletes alike.