Rams Fans Taunt Broncos Fans? Really?

Denver+Broncos+v+St+Louis+RamsAs most of my loyal readers know, I’m a huge sports fan and living in St. Louis that means when it’s football season I’m all in on the Rams. I know, I know, it hasn’t been good for a long while but I just love going to the game and I have Rams season tickets. On Sunday the Rams played, by far, their best game of the season and defeated the heavily favored Denver Broncos.

The Broncos were 7-2 going into the game while the Rams were 3-6. Broncos fans arrived early and in very strong numbers. I sit near the 40 yard-line on the Rams side of the field and generally there aren’t that many opposing team’s fans in my area as they prefer to be on the other side of the field. Yesterday was an exception as thousands of Broncos fans were everywhere in the stadium including a woman right next to me and two young boys behind me.

During the game they cheered their Broncos on, as should any fan, but they did it in what I would describe as a respectful way. As the game entered it’s final minutes they began to file out of the stadium and that’s when what I want to talk about today happened. A couple of fans not far from me started to taunt the Broncos fans. Really?

Just a quick recap for those of you who aren’t football fans. The Broncos were in the Super Bowl last year and have made the playoffs the past three seasons and it’s looking quite likely they will make it again. The Rams last made the playoffs in 2004 haven’t had a winning record since 2003 (they went to the playoffs with an 8-8 record in 2004). The Broncos have a tradition of winning and while the Rams do as well, it has been a bad ten years for the team.

When I heard those taunts I saw red. I mean, really? Here we are, sad-sacks of the NFL for the last ten years, and we manage to win one game against the team that lost in the Super Bowl last year and you’ve got the nerve to taunt their fans for leaving in the last couple of minutes of a game? Believe me, I’ve dragged my sorry behind out of Dome after losses on many occasions and when I hear a fan on the winning team taunting it gets my goat.

I turned around and yelled, “Be a gracious winner”. I wanted to yell something with a little more sting but I seem to have made my point as the taunting stopped, at least in my section.

It brought something to my mind though. What is it to be a gracious winner? What sort of person wins and then, unsatisfied with being victorious, has to taunt the losers or their fans? What does it say about the character of that person? When you win you should be joyous, not filled with rancor. It don’t even see how it’s that difficult to be magnanimous in victory. It’s a natural feeling to say something along the lines of, “well, we just played better today but you’ve got a good team“. Certainly fans from other cities have said something like that to me as I filed dejectedly out of the Dome on any number of occasions.

Defeat with dignity? That’s tougher. You’re mad your team got beat. You hate the other team and their fans. That’s a true test of character. Hold your head up and say “Darn the luck, we’ll get them next time.” That’s not easy but that’s what people with character do.

I don’t have a lot of room in my heart for Rams fans who taunt their opponent in victory. I suppose you could say our fans just aren’t used to winning but I don’t buy that excuse.

To all those Bronco fans at the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday I say this: Thanks for coming to St. Louis. I hope you had a good trip. You’ve got a great team and despite the outcome I’m sure many good days lie ahead.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Edge
Purchase The Broken Throne today!
The Black Sphere Coming Soon!

Twitter and the Professional Athlete

Chris LongAs anyone who reads my blog regularly knows I’m a huge sports fan and being from St. Louis that means I follow the Cardinals, Rams, and Blues pretty closely. It is a story from the St. Louis Rams that caught my attention today.

Most people are aware that a number of professional athletes use Twitter to Tweet their thoughts. This can be a revealing insight into their lives although I don’t follow any athletes nor do I read many Tweets. Chris Long of the Rams was being interviewed after a practice session during what are called OTA (Organized Team Activities).

In the interview he was asked what it was like to be back on Twitter. Long took a break from using Twitter during the off-season but is now tweeting again. If you watch the interview I linked he is asked the question at about 1:00.

He started to give the boring sort of answer that athletes often give to questions of that nature but then stopped himself, thought for a moment, and gave what I thought was an incredible answer. “It hasn’t felt that great,” he said. “I was actually happier in general when I wasn’t on it.”

What was his reasoning? Happily he went on to explain with a forthright honesty that came out loud and clear to me. “It’s just sobering. Twitter is an awful reminder of what’s out there … it’s bad, it’s bad.”

Chris was talking specifically about the LeBron James situation. James, arguably the best player in the NBA and potentially one of the best in the history of the league, is in the midst of his fourth straight NBA Championship series of which his team has won the last two. The air-conditioning went out early in the game and by the last quarter James began suffering severe cramps. He was unable to finish. A lot of nastiness ensued from Twitter. James is both very popular and much hated. That’s its own story. Let’s get back to Chris Long.

“They probably think the same thing about me, but, oh well,” said Chris with a shrug. I can tell you for a fact that there are quite a lot of people out there saying extremely hateful things about Chris Long. I read comments on stories all the time. Long doesn’t “probably think” people are saying nasty things about him, he knows it. In Long’s return to Twitter he defended LeBron with supportive tweets.

As a professional athlete and as a man who uses Twitter, Long cannot claim immunity from attacks or say that people shouldn’t be cruel. People have the right to say vile and nasty things about Long and James. That being said, I can only imagine the immense self-loathing that must fill a person in order for them to spew such awful things. I know some of my readers will think I’m exaggerating the level of vitriol on Twitter. I’m not. When you read some of the comments it is an “awful reminder of what’s out there.” The hate and the anger that boils just below the calm surface of our everyday lives. In your neighbor perhaps, or the person next to you in line at the grocery store, or a co-worker. It’s sobering to think of someone so close, so filled with anger.

Would that everyone could worry more about themselves and less about others.

And that’s what Long’s little speech reminded me. What is Libertarianism all about?

It’s not getting to do what I want. It’s about having discipline, self-control, and a sense of personal responsibility so that I can do what I want and let you do what you want.

Good for you, Chris Long. A tip of the hat.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Broken Throne
Next Release: The Black Sphere

How to Succeed

St. Louis RamsToday I drift into the world of sports and the St. Louis Rams football team. It’s been a tough slog for the Rams since they won the Super Bowl and spent time as an elite team in the NFL in the first part of the 21st Century. We’ve gone through three coaches and many, many losses since then. The Rams play their first preseason game later today and their new head coach, Jeff Fisher had a quote in the morning paper that really resonated with me.

What you want to do through the preseason is not give up a lot of points, keep the penalties down, … protect the football, block and tackle and execute, and let the score take care of itself.

Now, a good quote does not a season make, but I’ve been hearing from everyone how confident and composed is Fisher and that snippet really seems to confirm everything I’ve heard. That quote is one to follow if you want to succeed in life. The basic idea is that if you do all the small things correctly you will reach your goal.

One of the things that’s important to do in life is set goals for yourself. That is a good thing. But the thing you can’t do is set goals for yourself without looking at all the steps necessary to complete the goal. The space program is an excellent example of this sort of thing. A manned trip to Mars is something that has long been on the minds of men with Wernher von Braun proposing such a trip in the 1950s.

In January of 2004 President George W. Bush proposed the Vision for Space Exploration which focused largely on a manned mission to Mars. Great, it is good to set goals, now, what are the concrete steps needed to make this happen? The Bush administration didn’t lay it out, they didn’t fund it, they didn’t even have real technology, and most importantly they didn’t understand the fundamental little things that needed to be done to achieve success. Much of the program failed at the cost of a lot of tax payer dollars. This is not the strategy to take to achieve success. Fisher’s strategy is far stronger.

State high lofted goals, Fisher has stated more than once the goal of his season is to win the championship. All coaches say that. He drafted and signed players towards that end. Again, every coach in the league does that. But, that one quote, that I’m not worried about the score or even winning the game, I just want the players to play properly is very encouraging. We need to have that attitude about life, about everything we do. It’s good to have goals but understand the steps necessary to achieve those goals. In this case; tackle, avoid penalties, avoid turnovers, and make blocks.

Apply that thinking to your own life and I think you’ll be pleased with the results.

Go Rams!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
New Release: The Hammer of Fire

Crony Capitalism

Crony Capitalism

Crony CapitalismThe topic for today is something called crony capitalism which is destroying free enterprise. The basic idea of capitalism is that free markets provide the best economic model for the growth of a nation. There are a lot variables within capitalism but at its most fundamental it is an idea that includes private ownership and production, wages for workers, free competition, and accumulation of capital for profit.

The ideas of capitalism are probably good fodder for another blog. What I want to discuss today is how crony capitalism is destroying the free market and with it our libertarian ideals. While crony capitalism has the word capitalism within it, it is actually a form of socialism, or government control of industry. Socialism is another badly misunderstood word and I should take that up in another blog. The ideas keep rolling in!

What is largely meant by this term is not capitalism at all. The United States government has become overly involved in the success of business. It is through government involvement that a particular product or service now succeeds. This has spawned an entire industry of lobbyist who spend their days trying to convince government officials to pass laws, regulations, and make actual purchases that favor their employer.

Most people see this problem with the U.S. military and decisions on which system to purchase are often decided by factors other than the actual effectiveness of the product.

However, this crony capitalism extends much deeper into society than most people realize. Go ask your employer if you have any government contracts. Ask them how much of the company money is spent on trying to get government agents to give them advantages.

There are a lot of reasons to fear this subversion of true capitalism but I think the main idea goes back to what Ayn Rand suggests in her writing. That the individual achiever must be allowed to succeed or society as a whole will eventually fail. The problem with crony capitalism, from my perspective at least, is that companies and individuals achieve not on the merit of their work but upon their ability to bribe government officials into altering the playing field so that they succeed. This eventually means companies that are good at bribery and backstabbing succeed while companies that just want to make a good product, employ hard workers, pay them a good salary, and make some money are defeated.

Again, we arrive at the point where I’ve complained all day long and not offered any solutions to the problem.

This is an extremely difficult problem but at its heart it comes down to fairness of government regulation. I’m a relatively moderate Libertarian in that I believe government regulation is necessary to prevent anti-trust situations but these regulations need to be broad and aimed at creating a fair playing field for all businesses.

It’s not easy to come up with legislation of this sort but I’ll take on food labeling as an example of my ideas. There are currently a bevy of regulations on how to display the nutritional contents of food. The problem is in defining what percent of a particular nutrient applies to a wide variety of people and what defines a serving size. It seems clear to me that nothing is going to be applicable to someone of my size, 5 foot 7 inches (1.7 meters) 165 lbs (74.8 kg) of twisted steel, and say, the left tackle of the St. Louis Rams. Go Rams!

So, why not simply put in the actual nutritional value of the entire package on the label. I can figure out how much of the package I eat, I can easily find out the daily allowances for someone of my size. It’s not the governments job to lead me to  the water and hold my hand while I drink.

Another example might be the animal husbandry industry. Simply make the producer put a webcam on their livestock and slaughtering pens and make it publicly available. If I know how the animal is treated then it is up to me if I want to save a little money or purchase the more expensive, but better treated, animal.

I’m a believer that government needs to regulate but the purpose is to create a fair playing field so that the best business can succeed, which is a winning formula for you and me.

Tom Liberman

St. Louis Rams Football Fortunes

I’ve been blogging about critical thinking, disasters, personal responsibility, and other topics the last couple of days so I thought I’d take on something important this time … my beloved St. Louis Rams!

You can stop laughing now … no … I’m serious … this isn’t a joke … that is to say the blog isn’t a joke … the Rams … we’ll I’ve heard them called worse than a joke.

We fired yet another coach and now in St. Louis the debate begins. Is the new coach any good? Are the coordinators any good? Who will they draft with the second pick? Should they trade it for more picks?

I love sports and I truly enjoy the endless speculation that it engenders. Did the manager make the right move? Who is to blame for the loss? The only thing I don’t like this the mean spirited attacks against a particular coach or player but I’ll save that for a blog about why some people enjoy being filled with hate. For this blog I’ll stick to the topic at hand.

We’ve had a bad run of it here with the Rams the last five years with only the memories of the Greatest Show on Turf years to sustain us through the dark days. Coach Vermeil retired after the Super Bowl year and things were okay for a while under Coach Martz but soon everything fell apart in an ugly way.

So, what do I think about the new hire and our prospects for the future. I’m optimistic. I think the team was better than they played last year but a brutal schedule (most difficult in the NFL, six games more difficult than the next most) and a good number of injuries really piled up on them. No excuses, we weren’t a good team.

I think that’s what I love most about sports. We can spin why were good or how we got unlucky but the bottom line is the result. No one gives us a win because our father runs the company, no one puts a few more points on the board because of a little misfortune. You win and you lose and that’s determined in a quantitative fashion. If you have more points you win. If you don’t, you lose. So, we got more yards than our opponents, held the ball longer, outplayed them, none of it matters and that is one of brutal beauties of sport.

I hope for the best with my Rams, yes, “my Rams”, that’s the way I feel about it. They are my team, rain or shine, and I’ll root for them unless they move to Los Angeles or London. As I said, I’m optimistic and I think we’re going to win some games next year, maybe even 9 – 7 or 10 – 6. Call me a fool, a hopeless dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

Go Rams!

Tom Liberman
Sword and sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist