youtube’s BoredShortsTV runs through a quick primer on how to correctly do a layup.
Good morning fellow alttabers! Welcome to a new series here on ALTTAB. We will have a weekly (if not closer to daily) update about the wonder that is ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless on First Take. This clip’s discussion point? Whether or not Kobe Bryant deserves to be the highest paid player (by more than $7 million) in the NBA. Commence the seal barking:
Feel free to finish the sentence in the headline in the comments below, because I just….I just can’t.
DotW: Melky Cabrera. He’s having an amazing season. Oh, what’s that? He tested positive for PEDs and is serving a 50-game suspension? And then tried to cover his ass with a fake website? Of course he did.
Mr. Pancakes: #NBARank is back. The first 100 (meaning 401-500) were released. Who surprised you?
Burrito: The NFL, for continuing to prolong the referee strike. The replacement refs are laughably terrible. There’s no way Goodell goes into the season with replacements, so why don’t they just cut the bullshit and make a deal?
Watch this video of Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless argue over whether or not the addition of Dwight Howard makes the Lakers the team to beat in the West.
AHHHH!!! I AM SO ANGRY!!!! This video, this pretend we are friends haha back and forth bullshit between Stephen A. and Skip, causes me physical pain and aunguish. Even the host’s “OMG you guys are so funny I’m getting an ab workout” shtick makes me roll my eyes so hard I think I’ve severed my optic nerves.
The banter and comraderie between these two is so contrived, so forced, that it is literally impossible for me to watch this all the way through. They are even talking about my favorite topic in sports right now, the Lakers trading for Dwight Howard, and I still cannot sit through its entirety.
Holy shit, these guys are awful.
DotW: Rick Reilly, for writing the most inane piece of fluff “journalism” EVAR
Mr. Pancakes: Great Britain (or, Andy Murray), for hearing ALTTAB’s call to arms and defending the Crown’s honour (see what I did there?) on the grass of Wimbledon
Burrito: Katie Ledecky (I really wanted to embed the Katie Ledecky video because its so amazing, but goddamn NBC has messed everything up so you’ll have to leave this page to watch it on theirs. Its stupid, but its worth it.)
And one last thing: Michael Phelps has been dating a hot, tall blonde chick. That’s fine. But did you know she has been wearing an AMERICAN FLAG MUSTACHE RING TO THE OLYMPICS? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
I know the Paralympics aren’t that big of a deal. And I know the immature asshole in all of us smirks whenever we see a disabled person “try” to compete. However, you must watch this promo by Britain’s Channel 4 for the Paralympics this year in London.
Set to Public Enemy’s Harder Than You Think (quite ingeniusly, I might add), this ninety second spot empahsizes the confidence, struggle, and perils of a paralympic athlete. Everything about this commercial is completely and entirely badass. From the little person swimmer walking through the dark tunnel, to the wheelchair distance runner training in pouring rain, to the male sprinter with a single blade runner stretching next to the sprinter with both legs intact, to the headshots of the athletes showcasing their you-don’t-want-to-fuck-with-me faces, everything about this makes me want to run through a goddamn brick wall. (The look the track athlete with what appears to be some sort of physical development disorder gives the camera at 00:59 is a look only someone who KNOWS HE’S BETTER THAN YOU can give.)
The tagline “Meet the Superhumans” is perfect. Try this: When, at the end, they show all the athletes staring down the camera, see if your heart rate hasn’t increased a little bit from the adrenaline this pumped into your veins.
As the previous post mentions, The Freeh Report was published this week. It does not bode well for the memory of Joe Paterno or Penn State. However, I am not here to talk about the report.
There was an article a few days ago on Deadspin about the aftermath in State College, and the Penn State alums, employees, and supporters, and how they could possible still support Joe Paterno.
The article was from an author under the guise of a psuedonym. He currently works at Penn State. He tried to explain how and why the Penn State community could still hold such “blind loyalty” towards Paterno. There is the expected amount of vitriol towards Paterno (and the author) in the comments section. Accusations of stupidity (Penn State, the author), selfishness, and downright malevolence (Paterno) are commonplace. I am here to discuss, and perhaps explain, those who cannot do it themselves. And to try and understand the headline of this article. I feel it is necessary to begin with this:
Paterno was a human in an almost inconceivable situation.
All the people involved in this ordeal are normal humans, biologically speaking (even Sandusky). While there are, of course, varying degrees, we can assume that they are all susceptible to basic mental and emotional human stimulus. They are, at least, affected by normal human emotions: skepticism, fear, confusion, anger, remorse, guilt, etc. Concerning the first incident, in 1998, if you are Joe Paterno and you receive secondhand information that your good (if not best) friend of the past several decades is a child molestor, what do you do? Especially a friend with the history and reputation that Sandusky had. The knee-jerk (and conveniently hindsight) reaction to immediately “do the right thing,” no questions asked, is naive, arrogant, self-righteous, and dangerous. While I am not absolving Paterno of guilt, barking holier-than-thou rthetoric is to ignore how Paterno accepted (or did not accept) and addressed his dilemma. I am in no way trying to defend Paterno and the Penn State administrators Spanier, Schultz, and Curley. I am trying to understand why they reacted the way they did. Which is to say, entirely human.
Are the assumptions that Paterno was protecting (albeit foolishly) a friend and colleague, or that he simply refused to believe that a man, who was so revered in the community for his service, could do such terrible things really propositions too impossible to believe? Or if Paterno was short-sightedly protecting his university and his program, does that make him as evil as Sandusky? Or does it make him a complicated human? As regrettable as Paterno acted (and as sure as I am that he would agree), it does not surprise me that he proceeded the way he did.
I realize there was more than one time that Sandusky’s transgressions were brought to Paterno’s attention. And I realize that Paterno appears to be the general on campus that controlled the entire circus. The Freeh Report is pretty damning evidence. While Paterno’s and the head administrators’ avoidance and silence about the incidents is reprehensible, is it implausible? Is it incomprehensible? Is it inhuman? Does it make them evil? It is literally impossible to try and understand these men’s motivations?
September 11th, 2001. The only other specific dates in American history that may be as significant are July 4th, 1776 and December 7th, 1942. I was fifteen on September 11th, 2001. A sophomore in a southern California high school. I remember the morning of. It was unique because when I woke up, my mom had the television on. She never had the television on in the morning. I remember watching the newscast. (Being three hours behind New York, the towers had already fallen.) I remember getting to school and walking into my basketball coach’s classroom, and all of my teammates were in there, watching TV.
….That’s about it. That’s all I really remember about September 11th, and the days immediately following. As far as I can tell, the rest of my day was unremarkable. I don’t remember if there was an announcement made. I don’t remember what I talked about with my friends. I don’t remember if anything was different at my house.
I will now admit something that will not make me many friends. September 11th did not affect my life. Not in a direct way, at least. I didn’t know anyone that died that day. Hell, I didn’t (and still don’t) even know someone that KNEW someone that died. The biggest impact on my life September 11th had concerned air travel and security levels on the National Mall. I cannot relate to anyone who was personally and immediately impacted by the tragedy.
But how could I? How can I? It happened 3,000 miles away, in a place I hadn’t been to yet, to a bunch of strangers. And I was FIFTEEN. However, I can throw all the rationalization and evidence at you to try and make you understand my point of view, and you would still think I am an unpatriotic asshole. I know that it was a tragedy unlike the country had ever seen. I know that it changed the course of history. But it feels like it happened in a history book. I have even been to Ground Zero, and still, it’s like visiting the Vietnam War Memorial. It feels like it happened in a parallel universe.
While admitting to something like this is not necessarily the best of decisions (especially in a forum like this), the reason why I feel like this is, I think, fairly simple:
I didn’t know anyone involved. It wasn’t personal.
Understanding human motivation is a complicated, and sometimes scary, process. There has been a point in everyone’s life when their morals were put in direct crisis. How can one assume to know how they would react to a situation where basic morals, pillars on which one leads their life, are tested? I have specific experiences (which I will choose not to divulge) where I turned in a less-than-admirable performance. I have been vindictive and venegeful. I have been selfish and arrogant. I have been jealous, prejudicial, and judgemental. It is a confusing, embarrassing, intimidating, frightening moment when you realize how far you actually allow yourself to go. And for what reasons.
Just like September 11th was to me, Sandusky’s crimes were to Paterno. They were not personal. He did not know the children being attacked. He did not know their families. What did Paterno know? He knew his school. He knew his football program. THAT was personal to him. It was tangible to him. It was how he identified himself. And although now it seems ridiculous, ludicrous even, for Paterno to be so afraid of the bad publicity and attention that exposing Sandusky would have brought, Paterno’s life, and everything he ever worked for, was under attack. Men have killed, MURDERED other men, for less. Paterno had no way of estimating the backlash that would come from him personally contacting the authorities. So he did what he thought was the safest thing, and it worked, for fourteen years.
I am not excusing what Paterno did. I am not absolving anyone of any guilt. What transpired in Happy Valley constitutes the most terrible record of events in college athletics ever. The people who deserved to be punished have been, or will be, punished. I am just trying to grasp the breadth of being human. The gray areas. The most inexplicable questions.
I have been in situations where the very fabric of my being has been tested. I hope that Paterno was in a similar predicament. I hope that every day that went by where he had to deal with Sandusky, every time he convinced Penn State officials to stand down, was another day that he scared himself. Another day that he went home, looked in the mirror, and was embarrassed, mortified, terrified, and ashamed. Because it IS terrifying. It IS humiliating. The feeling of willingly compromising your morals is like losing your identity. You are no longer the same person.
The Freeh report prooves the headline of this article. Joe Paterno. Decades of success. A deity to thousands of people. Millions of dollars donated to higher education and raised for charities. A beacon of light and goodwill worldwide.
Could it be that people, you yourself, are more complicated than anyone can ever imagine?
Unequivocally, unbelievably yes.
Its the day after the Freeh report was released and all the fun has evaporated from the world. If you glance below here and take a look at the sentiment I brought into this whole illumination process, I was prepared to be understanding. I wasn’t excusing anyone, least of all Joe Paterno. But still, I was ready for this to evolve into a cautionary tale about the times when we all fail to live up to our own expectations. I was ready to put myself in Paterno’s position and to have that point of view make me understand why he didn’t do what he didn’t do. Not excuse it, but understand it. I was ready for a story about how past allegiances–to friendship, to shared work, to common values–could cloud one’s judgement and and blind a person to the plain reality of the current situation.
Needless to say, I had not prepared myself for the Freeh report. None of that ‘we share the same flawed common humanity’ shit was in there. It was just a bunch of out-of-touch old fucks protecting a rapist because they felt Penn State football might be somehow dinged if that rapist were to be brought to justice. I won’t rehash its contents here (go to Deadspin for an excellent full accounting) other than to underline three things:
1. I think it is important, to fully understand what we’re all really talking about, to stop speaking in euphemism about what Jerry Sandusky was doing. Sandusky wasn’t “with a boy” or “performing an act with a boy.” He was raping a boy. A little kid. He was doing the sort of thing that gets a person murdered in prison by his fellow inmates with shivs and a broomstick because he violated the baseline, fundamental code of decency and humanity.
2. The person described in point number one was known to the higher ups at Penn State as far back as 1998. They all chose to handle this situation in a way somehow worse than even the Catholic Church. Sandusky wasn’t even prevented from being in contact with children! He was forcibly retired with a six figure lump sum payout and then given full access, in perpetuity, to Penn State facilities where he would be able to continue methodically raping children for the next decade.
3. Its worth starting to say two things, so we get used to saying them, because they are both true and unbelievable. First, this is the worst thing that has ever happened in the world of modern college football, ever. We need never again fear for the integrity of the sport when some coach is fooling around with a sexxxxy grad assistant or failing to stop players from getting comped tattoos or whatever other fucking nonsense the NCAA always tries to pretend is a big deal. We have perspective now. Second, Penn State must self impose a death penalty on the football program of at least two years. Josh Levine runs through this second point on Slate today and I agree with him wholeheartedly. The NCAA is too morally corrupt to institute that kind of punishment. Penn State has to take it upon itself; the institution needs to welcome a penance for the sins of its leaders. Otherwise, the damned stain of this unbelievable series of events, abetted by the power vortex of Penn State football, will linger and rot.
The Freeh Report on Penn State’s Jerry Sandusky scandal comes out today. And given that the servers hosting the report online have currently failed (as of 10:45 am on Thursday), its fair to say the general public is somewhat interested to learn its contents. It seems entirely likely that what will emerge is a portrait of the late Joe Paterno consistently failing to turn in Jerry Sandusky to the police during the 2000s, despite mounting evidence that Sandusky was, in fact, a serial rapist who targeted children. I think it is also entirely likely that the sports media will excoriate Paterno for these failings. And the media will be correct. Yet with every new revelation about Paterno’s compromised morality that stumbles squinting into the light of day, I keep hearing the prescient bridge of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ 1997 hit “The Impression That I Get”:
I’m not a coward,
I’ve just never been tested
I’d like to think that if I was,
I would pass
Look at the tested and think, “There but for the grace go I”
I might be a coward,
I’m afraid of what I might find out.
This is a horrible story about a horrible man who destroyed everything he touched, including it seems, the good sense and backbone of Joe Paterno. As ever, our hearts go out to the victims.
The reason I love sports as an adult is totally different from when I was a kid. Back in Southern California in the 90s I loved sports, particularly basketball, because of how big they were. The players, the lights, environment around a big game, the excitement! And the narratives, especially Jordan’s back then, were so much bigger than me. They made the athletes into legends, living legends, and to my little kid brain, that was just fantastic. I would covet my NBA trading cards as my collection grew to include the best players of that era, because my collection was then able to lay some claim to that big legacy. I had a mint ’93 Jordan card. Can you believe it?!
But now as an adult, that isn’t what moves me about sports. Certainly, there is a strong thread in modern fandom that still looks at athletes with doey little kid eyes, but for me, it’s no longer that way. I’m 29– a lot of these guys are much younger than I am. It’s impossible for me to look up to them in any way other than literally. But sports, writ large, still compels me because of the larger way that it is a metaphor for life that sometimes allows rather profound glimpses of wisdom to be gleaned from the sports page. Though Dano HATES hearing about it, this is what I believe was really going on with LeBron James’s “The Decision” fiasco two summers ago. I think Clevelanders were furious with Lebron because that Cavs team (with LeBron making up about 85% of it) had become a part of them, a part of their explanation of why they still loved Cleveland and why they chose to stay there. If you never have, do yourself a favor and put up Scott Raab’s book on the subject, The Whore of Akron. Despite that pugnacious title, the book is actually fairly thoughtful and illuminating about the ways in which sports can be so much bigger and more important than Bill Simmon’s arcane rankings. There is a reason why President Obama, a serious man with a serious job–say what you want about his policies– will say “Go White Sox” at the end of a press conference to wish the team well. As an adult, sports can become entwined in us, in our place, where we are from, and it can help us make sense of and respond to adversity, especially when adversity is really all there is.
And this brings us to the video at the top of this post. Please watch it. Its a funny enough premise: the reporter sets out to golf the longest hole in Detroit– an 18 mile, par 3,000 bear across the open expanse of fallow Detroit. But within that silly conceit is clearly a point about the current, desperate state of the city, one that has famously lost more than half its population since its heyday in the 1950’s. For people from Detroit, and from other fairly or unfairly maligned places, sports can be a sanctuary. If the Tigers can sweep the Yankees over a weekend series or if they Red Wings can put together a killer playoff run, that is important to the city if for no other reason than it keeps hope alive. That may sound cheesy, but hope is the most important commodity for a struggling city–or sports team–to have, because it allows for the idea that things can get better and that work towards making things better will not be in vain. As the end of the video notes, the will to change the fate of the city exists within the Detroiters themselves. And a statement like that is just begging for a sports parallel: down five points late in the game, a Piston throws down a powerful dunk ahead of the defense–then gets back down to the other side of the floor to block a shot. You can choose any sports metaphor that speaks to the willpower it takes to not only say ‘enough is enough’ but to grind down and enforce that determination.
I’ve been to Detroit and it’s unlike any place I’ve ever been in my entire life. Downtown is beautiful, with tall, old, Art Deco buildings overlooking the river. But, as the video shows, the areas outside downtown are struggling mightily–and there is not solution yet on the horizon. Some people may choose to be smug dicks about the situation and say, “Whatever, move everyone out and tear the whole place down.” And what are Detroiters to say in response to this? Detroit is at her weakest right now, a shadow of her former glory. Unless the conversation turns to sports, because, you know, the Lions are looking pretty good this year. And then there’s a reason to keep hope alive for next season.