Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Short Suggestion On A Small Topic

Recently, the volume of hate mail that I receive has increased exponentially. I wish my family would stop that. A few of the rest of you were a little upset as well. This is nearly always the case if I say anything negative about the sports program at our university, Enema U.

My trifling comments that sports should be an afterthought to education were viciously attacked. Didn’t I understand that this program provided much needed scholarships to people who might not otherwise be able to afford a college education? It’s a scholarship program? By this reasoning, the university should offer degrees in beauty pageantry.

Don’t I understand the premise that athletics builds character? Actually, no, I don’t. Athletics, like any other challenge, reveals character; in this case the character of the players, their coaches, and the system. So far, the players are ahead on points.

Still, with my hate mail running strongly against me, I am willing to face the inevitable and concede that athletics is the tail that wags the educational dog. I surrender. Inter-collegiate sports programs are wonderful! The term “student athlete” is NOT an outrageous oxymoron! Football puts the university on the map! Losing games enhances student recruitment! And I would be willing to die happy if we could just get one lousy insignificant bowl game and until we can accomplish this minor miracle, I am more than happy to reorient the university budget to engineer a swap of our educational birthright for a bowl of athletic porridge. In short, I’m converted: I, too, am an ardent athletic supporter.

But, I have a few small questions. Forgive me-I just recently suffered my brain injury-so I am new to all this. Why do we only offer athletic scholarships to big people? If we are truly compassionate, why do we only offer scholarships to inner-city students who happen to be tall? Are they more worthy? Do short people, as the Randy Newman song says, “got nobody at all?”

Obviously, this is simply a slight oversight. A program that was specifically designed to build character could not be so cruel. No university, so single-mindedly focused at providing quality education, could be so blatantly engaged in size-ism. I am sure that our Athletic Infector (excuse me, I had a momentary relapse) Athletic Director will correct this situation now that it has been pointed out to him. I have no doubt that in the future, athletic scholarships will be given out to people regardless of speed, bulk, or height.

No, I am not suggesting that we change the existing sports to allow everyone to play, just design new sports so that everyone has an equal opportunity. Perhaps we could call it Title 0.9. Swimming could have a contest to see who sinks the fastest, or could hold their breath the longest, or whatever the hell it is that fat people do well. Maybe the NCAA needs to start a Buffalo wing eating contest.

Nor do we need to ruin basketball just to allow midgets to play. Though it would probably make a more interesting game. Just how do you steal the ball from someone who dribbles the ball only 10 inches off the floor? No, I am sure there are games that the short do better than the tall. Miniature golf comes to mind.

All this fuss would be unnecessary if you just changed one small rule in basketball. Instead of allowing 5 players, allow any number of team members on the court at the same time as long as the combined height of the players doesn’t exceed 35 feet. Instead of 5 giants around 7 feet tall, you could have 7 guys about 5 foot tall, or about 9 midgets. I’d pay to watch that game.

Actually, there is a brief historical precedent for this. In 1951, the coach of the St. Louis Browns hired a midget, Edward Gaedel, to play major league baseball. Confident that an 8” strike zone was too difficult for most pitchers, Eddie (to use his diminutive) was hired to be a relief hitter. At his first time at bat, the pitcher threw 4 balls and walked Edward. Unfortunately, his jersey, with the number 1/8, was retired immediately. The baseball commissioner ruled that midgets were unfair to pitchers. Obvious size-ism.

Finally, I have written an entry to this blog that will be pleasing to everyone-a blog that will generate nothing but sympathetic email. I am, at last, confident that no one could object to these kind, selfless, and humanitarian suggestions, now that I have joined the majority.

Except for all those angry midgets who want to be called little people.

1 comment:

  1. I personally agree that the athletics departments of colleges and universities need some revamping. I'm thinking "Spandex".
    Years back I was working the concession stand at Wagstaff Gymnasium at Tyler Junior College back in Texas. We were raising money for the ARC of Tyler. I noticed a sharp increase in the number of attendees at the women's volleyball games. Curious I strolled down to the bleachers to see what was drawing crowds. Apparently, as the year had drawn to a close, the athletic department must have found itself behind on its Title IX spending for women's sport. I imagine an enterprising uniform salesman probably carried the athletic director down to Finn's Tavern, plied him with margaritas and convinced him the girls needed uniforms that allowed them to move more freely. So next game, the Tyler Apaches women's volleyball team showed up to play in skin-tight spandex. Apparently they did move rather more freely in spandex, if the enthusiastic response by male attendees were any indication. No one missed the baggy shorts and droopy tank tops at least and crowds were enthusiastic. The Apache women's basketball team, a larger and beefier bunch of young ladies, however, clung to the more traditional droopy shorts and baggy tank tops and saw no attendant increase in cheering crowds.

    Since the athletic staff seemed not to notice the sudden uptick in ticket sales for women's volleyball, perhaps it is time we start having the marketing professors teach a few athletics courses. It would certainly go a long way toward balancing the athletics budget in the college's favor. We might even get some new, more profitable women's sports out of it. I'm thinking Greco-Roman Jello wrestling, bikini beach volleyball and synchronized pole dancing. Just a thought.