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

I Paid for my Ticket! Rude at the Game Explored

Rude FansI’m a huge sports fan as almost anyone who regularly reads my blog knows. My mother is a season ticket holder for the St. Louis Cardinals and I’m the same for the St. Louis Rams. I go to a healthy number of games each year and it seems to me that boorish behavior is on the rise lately.

I could be wrong about this. It could simply be me getting older and less tolerant; although those who know me will tell you that patience and tolerance are not character traits of mine. I’m not one to put up with stupidity and rudeness.

I’ve noticed an increase in haters and shouters at the games in the last few years.

Anyone who follows a sports team with passion will know of “haters“. These are people who predict dire results and are happy when the team loses or a player fails because they were right. They revel in the misery of fans who want the team to succeed. They dominate the comment section of sports stories and incessantly call talk radio shows to express their opinion.

They are now not shy about expressing their hate, loudly and repeatedly, at the game itself. No longer anonymous exactly but in front of a crowd of strangers they feel it’s perfectly acceptable yell out obscenities and vile words at those players who have engendered their hate. They ruin the experience for those around them, by golly they say, “I paid for these tickets.”

I remember as a kid people booing a player for making a bad play. I remember sarcastic applause when after a series of blunders someone made an ordinary play. I even remember people shouting out things like “you’re a bum”. What I don’t remember is the vile, unadulterated hate that strongly overrides rooting for the team. What I see now is a larger and larger group of people who want the team to fail, the player to fail, and cheer only halfheartedly at success. They only seem happy with a failure that validates their hatred.

As for drunks, there have always been drunks at games. I probably see fewer of them these days.

The reason I bring all this up is that I had a pretty nasty experience at the Rams game on Sunday. There was a group of about six guys near me who were clearly pretty drunk but of a good nature. They cheered the team a bit too loudly but I found them perfectly acceptable. They were in body-paint which is apparently against the rules because security made them go get shirts. This caused one of them to become belligerent for a bit but he settled down quickly enough.

What was the problem was that others felt the need to crowd around them, to encourage them into stupid acts, and generally obstruct my view of the game. It gets old after three hours. I paid for my ticket also, I want to see the game and not be subject to random people constantly standing in my way and not paying any attention to the game.

The mere presence of these loud, drunken fans seemed to encourage louder and not so happy fans around us. If they can be loud and drunk; then I can be louder and more rude seemed to be the message taken. One fan continually shouted in my ear, from behind, for the entire game. I was four rows away. I can’t imagine being right in front of him. He shouted things that had no correlation to what was happening on the field. He was shouting for the sake of being seen and heard. Super annoying.

A hater in front of me kept shouting out nasty comments at our quarterback, Sam Bradford, who has not had a great season. The hater really drew fuel from the drunks and was hand slapping with them continuously. I’m not exactly a Germaphobe (technically mysophobia) but there are lines I won’t cross and high-fives with ushers (who have touched hundreds of strangers) and people who are clearly drunk and have probably urinated on their hands is one of them. Anyway, we put the game away with a late touchdown pass from Bradford and the hater, who has been bashing Bradford all game, is slapping high-fives with everyone around and I’m not going to do it. So now he’s mumbling and claiming I snubbed his greasy, likely urine-covered, hating, hand.

As he’s walking away he calls me an asshole. I’m pretty grumpy at this point. I paid $200 for my two seats and have essentially had my eardrums, sensibilities, and view harassed for three hours. I tell him to fornicate with himself. He keeps walking but it could have gotten ugly.

I do think people have the right to cheer loudly at a game and to boo sub-par efforts. I just think that at some point the rights of the fans around you dictate you mollify your behavior. I’m not opposed to standing and cheering the team, which forces others nearby to stand, but I think standing at inappropriate moments and for long periods of time is rude. That blocking the view of others wrong.

If someone doesn’t want to touch you then why do you care? People are looking for a reason to be angry, maybe they’re unhappy in their lives away from the games, maybe they’re just miserable people. I don’t much care. I’m not a miserable person. I enjoy my life. I root for my teams. I want them to succeed. I try to be careful not to intrude on the people around me, verbally or physically.

Maybe I’m being overly sensitive but I’m honestly thinking about giving up my seats. I still enjoy the games very much. I love being at the game. The crowd, the atmosphere, the game itself. But there is a point where the experience becomes a net negative. Sadly, I’m getting there.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Sword of Water ($2.99 for a full length eBook)
Next Release: The Spear of the Hunt

Bernie Kosar and Jeff Fisher

Bernie KosarJeff FisherIt seems to be a week for media personalities butting heads with sports personalities here in St. Louis. I’ve been writing about the Jack Clark/Albert Pujols situation but now we have the Bernie Kosar/Jeff Fisher brouhaha.

Fisher is the head coach of the St. Louis Rams and Kosar is the color commentator for the Cleveland Browns. The two teams played a preseason game this year and Kosar made some comments during the game that apparently caught the attention of Fisher.

Kosar was a standout football player for the University of Miami and then the Browns. Fisher is a well-respected and moderately successful NFL coach. Both men should do their job with professionalism, as should we all.

Kosar’s criticism of the Rams play in the game centered on two things; the receivers dropping well-thrown balls and the third-string quarterback, Kellen Clemens. I didn’t hear the broadcast so I can only go by the quotes I’m reading.

Apparently Rams receivers dropped a number of passes and Kosar said that their mothers would be embarrassed. He also made a comment about the receiver coach. That doesn’t seem to be what drew the ire of Fisher as much as what happened next.

Apparently Kosar has a bad history with Clemens. Before Clemens came into the game Kosar said that he, Kosar, was essentially being punished because he didn’t like Clemens. It’s not really clear what he was trying to say because it doesn’t make a lot of sense. It is clear he doesn’t like Clemens personally. He took a couple of more shots at the quarterback, that had nothing to do with his play on the field, saying he wouldn’t want his autograph and that Kosar needed divine intervention because he had to watch Clemens for the fourth quarter of the game.

It doesn’t help that Kosar is suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy which make his speech patterns slurred as if drunk.

Still, I have to question Kosar’s professionalism in letting his personal feelings interfere with his work. He said nasty things about Clemens not only before he was in the game but admitted that the problems were personal in nature. That’s extremely unprofessional.

At my job I do web development work and we do this for a number of clients. One of these is a Christian organization. I’m an atheist. I would never let that influence me in doing my job properly, in helping make the best website possible without any cost overruns. Nor would I publicly criticize the people I’ve met from that organization. I actually like them! They are quite nice and I’ve really enjoyed working on their site.

When we let our personal feelings for a person or an organization prevent us from doing our job fairly, as best we can, then we are unprofessional. It is a reflection on us, on me.

But, back to the situation at hand. A number of people are saying that Fisher should just ignore Kosar. I disagree, when someone is unprofessional they should be called out as such. Otherwise how will they know? I don’t think Fisher will dwell on this and it will go away rather quickly; but I think he is right to lose respect for Kosar. I certainly did. As a head coach it’s part of Fisher’s professional responsibility to stand up for his players. All coaches who care for their players, and all the good ones do, would do the same.

Fisher went out of his way to mention that he has great respect for the Browns’ organization but had a problem with the way Kosar went about doing his job.

Finally as to the Browns themselves. I feel for Kosar, he’s suffering from a terrible brain problem caused by sacrificing his body for the Browns. I can totally understand how they want to employ Kosar. It just seems a little odd to me that you would employ a man who has a difficult time communicating as a commentator. Apparently he is extremely intelligent and knows football very well but has trouble speaking, stringing together coherent sentences.

Maybe we’ll see some good out of this. Kosar will try to be more professional, Fisher and he will make up and that will be that. We can only hope!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water ($2.99 for a full length eBook, and it’s good!)
Upcoming Release: The Spear of the Hunt

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