Saturday, March 31, 2007

The woosification of America continues unabated

And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.

That line from a very creative work of fiction signals that the Apocalypse is nigh. While that would be helpful for those of us looking for something dramatic to mark on our calendar to signal the end of days, I personally think the portents of doom will be more subtle, yet even more insidious. Like this:

The Knothole Club of Greater Cincinnati has decided to eliminate "chatter." Unless the chatter is "positive" and directed at your own team.

You have got to be fucking kidding me. Slowly but surely, our culture is turning coddling cesspool of ham handed pop psychology, wrapping kids in the swaddling clothes of "self-esteem" and thoroughly failing to prepare them for adulthood and life in general. This started several years ago, when youth sports leagues started preaching the nonsense about the games being all about "participation" rather than "competition." All kinds of ridiculous rules started popping up, like putting every player, regardless of skill level, into the game. Putting limits on runs scored. Not tracking outs. This nonsense found its way to the play ground, where teachers got rid of time honored games like dodgeball, because if one of the students was too slow to get out of the way of a soft rubber ball, they might learn something along the lines of....they were too slow to get out of the way of a soft rubber ball.

Generations of kids grew up playing dodgeball. Playing wiffle ball. Riding the pine in Little League if they weren't skilled enough to crack the starting line up. When they got to college, did they expect their professors to tell them "hey, you tried. That essay was incomprehensible and not cogent at all. But I don't want to hurt your feelings or make you feel like you're not as smart or talented as every other student in class, so I'll give you an A." When they got into the real world, did they expect their supervisor to tell them "sorry Bob, but Kevin does twice the work you do and is actually smarter and more skilled than you. But I don't want to pass you over for that promotion because it might make you feel bad, so I'm just going to keep everyone where they are and let our profitability slide into the red. Here's a cookie." When they started to navigate the choppy seas of interpersonal relationships, did they expect their girlfriend to tell them "Hey, Ted, I'm sure you realize that Bill makes more money that you, and that I've basically used you up and left you a dried, empty husk. But you know what? I love you and I'm going to stick with you out of love, friendship and respect, and not go bed hopping like a Pussycat Doll looking for the next champagne room because I don't want to make you feel bad." NO. Life is full of soul-crushing disappointment and competition, and the sooner you learn this, the better off you'll be.

Not that "hey, batter, batter, batter, suh-wing!" or "we need a pitcher, not a belly itcher!" is exactly Dorothy Parker sitting around the Algonquin Roundtable trading delicious bon mots with Robert Benchley. But the fact that league organizers feel compelled to step in and save youth baseball players from these "vicious ripostes" is utterly ridiculous.

Look, part of the argument I can understand. Every time we turn on the TV to watch sports, we're subjected to some preening, self-absorbed egomaniac spiking the ball and having a convulsion at midfield after getting a first down (while his team is down by 28), or watching some uneducated prima-donna thumping his chest to draw the camera's attention to promote his rap album, while failing to get back on D and prevent the other team from scoring. But there's a huge difference between acting like TO and having a little "chatter" on the tee ball field.

"Hey, batter! Try your best to put the bat on the ball! And if you miss, that's okay, darn it, because you'll still have your worth and value as a person and be welcomed back into the loving bosom of your mother!"

Not quite the same, is it?

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