No Eye In Team

My bro, Chris and I were discussing the people from our past whose asses we’d like to kick.

For him, most of those people were from his childhood.  Personally, I barely remember most of the people I grew up with.  All of the people from my list were high school acquaintances.   I was always a weird kid, but for the first 2/3’s of my education, no one seemed to bother me about it for the most part.  But in high school, people are expected to define themselves and pick sides.  Everyone is expected to be part of some sort of category or grouping and if you don’t fall into any of them, they automatically lump you into the freaks.

What’s most interesting about my list is that it actually includes a couple of teachers.  Sort of.  I’m not sure they really deserve the label.  They were football coaches who taught classes.  One of them ended up the school disciplinarian, which I personally find horrifying.  Coach Hines even managed to be a dick to my little brother who attended the same high school as me a few years after I graduated. I don’t know what happened to Lambert, but I hope it involved a prison and a guy named Bubba commenting on how pretty his mouth is.

Seem a little harsh?  Let’s get into the way-back machine.  When I was 15, my allergies were out of control.  My sinuses were constantly stuffed up.  My penchant for carrying around wads of kleenex in my pockets earned me the nickname Booger.

Yes. Like the guy from Revenge of the Nerds.  Although I doubt my tormentors ever picked up on the coincidence.

People loved to push the nickname at me.   Fuck love, High School is a battlefield.  But in the end, they were bunch of stupid fucking kids (they’re still going on the goddamn list, but anyway…).   Lambert was a grown man in his 20s.  And for some reason he enjoyed being a dick to me as well.  Though in his case, he called me Snot.  Nice. He loved calling me out in class in order to make fun of me.

Back then I just wanted to kneecap him.  Now as an adult I realize that his behavior was criminal, and I should have reported him.  Although I still want to kneecap him. 

The reality is that not every teacher liked me’ its not realistic to expect teachers to like all of their students.  But none of the others went out of their way to be a dick to me.  I realize now that the probability is that the reason they didn’t like me is because they’re football people.   I don’t want to make a generalization here, because it isn’t exactly a rule, but I have noticed that a large portion of guys who grow up playing football obsessively end up serious cockstains.  They’re never particularly open-minded, and always seem to think that anyone who doens’t like football is a freak of nature.

And yet for some reason, people lend football players respect.  Even in myown school, where our team is legendarily shitty.   I’ve never really understood it.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t like football, but really its just another activity.  Nothing special about it.  And yet so much of America has this blind devotion to it.

Recently I had a conversation with a female attorney in which she recounted a tale about her son.  At a job interview, the man doing the interviewing asked if he’d played any team sports in high school, like football.  He said yes.  When the interview was over, he asked what was with the sports question, and the interviewer told him that playing sports teaches you how to play as part of a team. 

That’s fucking retarded. 

Though the Attorney and many other people I’ve met would disagree, I have to say that playing sports and football doesn’t necessarily teach you jack shit about anything other than sports.  First of all, its the coach who teaches you about how to be part of a team, and thats assuming that he’s a good coach, or moreover, a good teacher.  Secondly, even if you do learn to be a team player from it, that doesn’t necessarily translate to the real world.  How do you know that this person is going to consider your business a team?  He might look at his friends that way, but what about the people he doesn’t like?  They’re more likely to be considered opponents.  Which isn’t to say he’s going to tackle or headbutt anyone…  but I’m not ruling out.

A team is a group of people dedicated to a singular goal, but not necessarily sacrificing their individuality. The fact is that sports like football teach uniformity and pack mentality.  And sure it teaches hand-eye coordination, but so do video games, and I don’t see anybody blowing a guy just because he beat Super Mario Brothers in 15 minutes.

But I’m not trying to vilify football players.  It just seems like there’s something there that we as a sport obsessed nation ought to consider.

If I ever have kids, I’d rather they didn’t play sports.  I’d prefer them to be artists.  Art teaches you to express yourself and fosters imagination and intelligence.  They’ll learn to think as individuals.  The rest I can teach them.  Being part of a team is about understanding that the needs of many outweigh the needs of the few. (Thank you Leonard Nimoy.)  So it really comes down to teaching sociological philosophy, not throwing a ball.

But if in the end, they choose to play football, I’ll be okay with it.  Because it’ll be an individual choice, not dictated by what other people expect of them.


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