Hooray – Super Bowl … 50!

Super Bowl 50I wrote a long post a while ago about why the National Football League should stop using Roman Numerals for the Super Bowl. While my dream hasn’t fully come to fruition the league has decided that Super Bowl 50 will be represented in Arabic Numerals.

It gives me a glimmer of hope that change is on the horizon. I’m probably wrong as they promise to return to the awful Roman Numerals for LI. Blah.

Read my entire blog rant on why I hate the Roman Numerals so much, or more realistically, think the Arabic system is so much better.

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

Fellatio, Homosexual Couples, SodaStream, and the Super Bowl

Fellatio InnuendoI wrote earlier last week that Fox Network refused to air an advertisement from a company that sells soda making equipment because it referenced rivals Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

They didn’t give any explanation as to why they refused to air the ad but the assumption is that they didn’t want to offend two of their largest sponsors; Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Certainly both of those companies mention each other in advertisement and significantly more negatively than the Soda Stream ad mentions them.

However, Soda Stream is a small company that doesn’t spend millions of dollars on advertisement on many other shows; therefore Fox made their decision. Offending Soda Stream will not cost Fox potentially huge amounts of revenue. I explained in the first article why I thought Fox had the right to advertise what they wanted but that this forced alteration smacked of censorship and was certainly an example of the Crony Capitalism that is subverting the economic principles of our country.

That is not the focus of today’s blog. Today I want to talk about how it is apparently perfectly acceptable for an advertisement to state pretty openly that a man wants oral sex from the woman next to him. That it’s completely all right to have a homosexual couple in an advertisement. That a halftime show can be filled with sexually suggestive songs and dances (this year was largely bereft of such displays but I’m talking more generally). There can even be wardrobe malfunctions that are intentionally planned to expose a woman’s breast.

Personally I don’t have a problem with any of these things. I’m actually rather fond of women’s breasts. I’m not opposed to fellatio from an attractive woman, and I don’t have a problem with a homosexual couple. Let’s face reality; some people will have problems with all of these things. I have a problem with commercials where couples (gay or straight) are sticking tongues down each other’s throats. There are always going to be some things, that someone, somewhere, will find objectionable.

The question I want to explore is the remedy to this problem. The people who find these things objectionable now go to our government, namely the FCC, to try to get that agency to penalize those who create and display the content.

I don’t doubt that the FCC will see a litany of complaints this morning. To me this is the heart of the problem. We look to the government to redress grievances over which they should have no jurisdiction. You don’t like seeing a man ask a woman for oral sex and the woman apparently relishing the idea? Then organize a few friends and boycott the network or the product. It’s easy today with the internet to find like-minded people. If enough of you make a fuss, there will be changes.

If you don’t like seeing homosexual couples on your television during the Super Bowl but the majority of people have decided that it’s ok to show them? Well, don’t watch the Super Bowl.

If a friend makes a very sweet comment about breastfeeding her newborn son and that offends you, then tell your friend. If you think it’s sweet then Like the post. The internet is the age of the individual. It is a Libertarian’s dream world.

Take charge of your life and don’t look to the government to do it for you. If you empower the government to ban things, don’t be surprised when they ban something you like. Power to the people! Better yet, power to me!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

Scarlett Johansson and the Banned Phrase

Scarlett and SodaStreamSuper Bowl 48 (yes, I wrote 48, not LXVIII) is fast approaching and that means it is time for advertising executives to get their game face on. I suppose the players need to prep as well.

There’s an interesting controversy that gives me the opportunity to write a blog about Scarlett Johansson, football, capitalism, and my libertarian ideology.

Win, win, win, and win!

Scarlett is doing an advertisement for a company called SodaStream that allows people to make soda in their home from raw ingredients rather than having to purchase finished soda.

There is another controversy over the fact that SodaStream is an Israeli company with a factory in the West Bank but that’s not what I’m going to talk about today. What I want to talk about is a commercial SodaStream planned to run during the Super Bowl in which Scarlett says, “Sorry, Coke and Pepsi“.

This was apparently enough for Fox, who is airing the game, to refuse to the show it. They have told SodaStream to change those words to something that doesn’t mention the two beverage giants by name.

Some countries have laws against comparative advertising but the United States actually encourages it as long as the comparisons are clearly identified, truthful, and non-deceptive.

So what’s the problem? Pepsi and Coca-Cola are both sponsors of the Super Bowl and advertisements shown by both companies are much more aggressive against each other than is this SodaStream advertisement against them. Coca-cola representatives claim they didn’t put any pressure on Fox to refuse to air the commercial.

I suspect it is an effort by someone at the Fox Network to curry favor from Coca-cola and Pepsi. Normally I would say that it’s their network and they have the right to refuse a commercial. I only wish they had censored the Go Daddy, Bar Refaeli kissing scene from Super Bowl 47. I’m eating here!

But this refusal seems to be for no good reason and smacks of censorship, favoritism, and particularly crony capitalism.

Of course, it accomplishes the opposite of what was desired in that it gives SodaStream a huge amount of free publicity and everyone will want to see the original ad.

That being the case, I can’t get overly angry about Fox’s decision but I don’t like it. It’s difficult enough for a small company to take on an Enterprise Business in the world today. If small businesses aren’t even allowed to advertise as they desire, within the realms of legality, then their uphill struggle is even greater.

Competition is good. Suppression of competition is bad. What’s good for our country is the free exercise of capitalism, not Crony Capitalism.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

Super Bowl – Breaking Rules to Win

Holding on SafetyThere was an interesting incident at the Super Bowl this year when the Baltimore Ravens intentionally broke a rule to help them win the game.

In this case the Ravens were winning by five points with eleven seconds left in the game. They decided to run a play in which the punter just moved around in the end zone running as much clock as possible and then taking a safety which is worth two points. The idea here was that if they punted there was a chance of a punt return or a punt block but that’s not where the rule breaking comes in. On the play the Ravens players blatantly held the 49er players which is normally a ten yard penalty and a repeat of the down. Well, a repeat of the down would have meant that Baltimore could have done the exact same thing but this time run the clock to zero. So, by blatantly holding the players for the other team they were allowed to dither more time from the clock, essentially, they gained a competitive advantage by breaking the rules.

My plan isn’t to talk about this particular rule or how it was broken to gain an advantage but the incident just got me thinking about the point of rules and the point of laws in general. It goes to an Ayn Rand’s quotes of which I’m quite fond; The  only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well,  when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things  to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking  laws.

Let me give an example of what I’m trying to suggest here by using the Socratic Method.

What is the purpose of laws against driving your car too fast?

The obvious answer is that the law is to protect innocents from out of control drivers crashing into them. At first glance this seems readily apparent and true. But, let me offer another option, the law is designed to generate money for the police force. Which one do you think is true? In my opinion both are true but only one should be true. We have so many laws that are designed not for the safety of the general public but to enforce ethical codes, to generate revenue, to punish those we dislike, and on and on. A law or a rule should be designed so that it serves the purpose of society or the game.

In the case of the Super Bowl the rule is fundamentally flawed because it was broken to gain an advantage. I’m not saying it’s an intentionally bad rule, I’m just staying that it’s flawed and doesn’t serve the purpose for which it was designed. This happens not infrequently. When a law doesn’t serve society or a rule doesn’t serve the game then it should be altered or eliminated.

Does regulating individual’s use of marijuana serve society? Does regulating sexual behavior serve society? Does restricting gun ownership serve society? I’m for an open and critical examination of all the laws that we have, this ever-growing prison population, this revenue driven police force, this moral self-righteousness. I think we need to purge the system of many, many laws but I’m willing to listen to those who think otherwise.

The NFL will address their rule. Can we as a society apply the same logic to our laws? Can we discuss them rationally with one another and listen to arguments on both sides? I’d like to think so.

What do you think?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water
Next Release: The Spear of the Hunt

Raiders Coach Intentionally Lost Super Bowl?

Oakland RaidersThere is an absolutely astonishing story making the rounds in the weeks before this year’s Super Bowl and it is so crazy that I’m not sure what to believe. I’ll give you the details but I think it’s going to be weeks before we can sort this out, if ever.

A former wide receiver for the Raiders, Tim Brown, has accused the coach of taking intentionally damaging actions in the hopes of losing the 2002 Super Bowl. What, what, what? That’s crazy. Intentionally losing the Super Bowl? What possible reason could there be for something like that? It boggles the mind. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. As a rational thinker, my first reaction is: That can’t possibly be accurate.

To the evidence!

Super Bowl XXXVII (37, I do wish they’d just quit with the roman numerals already) took place in January of 2003 with the Oakland Raiders facing off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa Bay’s coach was John Gruden who left those self-same Raiders just a year before to take the job. He had been the Raider’s coach for four season and left in, amazingly enough, a trade with Tampa Bay. The Raider’s got two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and $8 million in cash for their coach!

In any case, the man who replaced Gruden was Bill Callahan and the two teams met in the 2002 Super Bowl only a year after the trade. It is the suggestion of Brown that Callahan despised the Raiders and wanted to lose the game. His main piece of evidence of this is that the team practiced a running attack in the week before the game but on Friday, two days before the game and with no full-speed practices left, Callahan completely changed the game-plan.

This change resulted in the already unstable center of the Raiders, Barret Robbins, freaking out and begging Callahan not to make such a radical change without a single practice to work on the new scheme. It is an absolute fact that Robbins disappeared before the Super Bowl and was only found later in Mexico. Barret had alcohol and drug problems but this does seem to jibe with Brown’s story.

Jerry Rice, yes, the Jerry Rice, confirms that the game-plan was completely changed on the Friday before the game. Certainly in the game the Raiders relied heavily on their top-rated pass offense and barely ran the ball at all, eleven times which includes two passes where quarterback Rich Gannon was chased out of the pocket and forced to run. However, the Buccaneers took an early lead in the game and this might have forced the Raiders into a passing game. Still, if Jerry Rice tells me the entire game-plan was changed on Friday then I’m going to believe him.

Now, another Raider, fullback Zach Crockett remembers that the game-plan only changed after Robbins fled the team and couldn’t be found. It does seem clear that almost everyone agrees the game-plan changed dramatically two days before the game and with no time to practice. This is something that’s hard to fathom. Crockett’s explanation makes no sense to me. If you lost the starting center it’s even crazier to change the plan. The backup is less likely to be able to adjust than the starter.

Brown also claims that Callahan hated the Raiders. He hated the team he coached? Is that possible? There is no evidence so far that I’ve seen as to why Callahan would hate his own team although there is a suggestion that he was loyal to Gruden and wanted his old coach to win. That seems seriously far-fetched and I’ve seen little evidence to support this.

Later in Callahan’s tenure with the Raiders, Charles Woodson had some harsh words for the coach.

Certainly Callahan is not well-liked in Nebraska where he coached for four moderately successful seasons. For those of you unfamiliar with Nebraska football, moderately successful is pretty bad.

Meanwhile Raider’s quarterback Rich Gannon is more circumspect claiming that the game-plan change came not before the game but during the game when the running attack proved ineffective.

Another possibility is that the Raider’s mercurial owner, Al Davis, ordered the game-plan change and forced it on Callahan. No one  has any evidence to this being the case but it does have the ring of truth about it in regards to Davis.

Holy Cow! What’s a fellow to believe?

For the moment I’m going with the idea I stated earlier, that if you’re going to make astounding claims it requires hard evidence. I certainly see some evidence as to what Tim Brown is saying but not enough for me to believe that the coach intentionally sabotaged his own team. That’s just too much. I eagerly await further evidence from the players on the team in question.

I’m going to poll this one. Tell me what you think in the poll and in the comments!

[polldaddy poll=6848316]

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water
Next Release: The Spear of the Hunt

Super Bowl … Saturday?!

Super Bowl 2012

It’s Super Bowl Sunday and I’m going to use the occasion to examine the question of moving the game day to Saturday. This is an idea I’ve been a proponent of for quite some time and when talking about it with friends I always complained that the NFL was foolish not to adopt it.

For many years I stood by this argument without bothering to further examine why the Super Bowl remained on a Sunday. This demonstrated a fallacy called Ought-Is or Wishful Thinking. Simply put it is the idea that we want something to be true so we therefore believe it is true without critical analysis. The Ought-Is is a pretty common reason why we fail to fully examine situations and make mistakes.

So, let’s put on our Critical Thinking caps and get to work!

The benefits of a Saturday game are fairly self-evident. Parties could occur on Saturday night instead of Sunday night. Bars, hotels, and other venues would get a boost in revenue because the revelry could go on all evening. The game itself would air in the evening rather than late afternoon. People could stay up late without having to go to work the next morning.

Our critical thinking skills come into play to determine why the game, with all these tangible benefits, hasn’t been moved. One of the important aspects of critical thinking is determining who stands to gain and who stands to lose by a particular proposition. In this case the thing I chose to ignore was the idea of who loses with a Saturday game. Can you think of the answer? Take a moment.

Two parties lose by moving the game to Saturday, the NFL and the host city. The process by which the NFL determines the host city does not involve, to my knowledge, a direct cash payment. However, the host city is generally chosen by their “ability to host”. Well, let’s parse that phrase. What the NFL means by “ability to host” is really how much money can they extract from people who come to see the game.

While the NFL benefits from direct ticket sales and certainly from advertising I would imagine that the events surrounding the Super Bowl, including specially built venues to entertain the visitors in around the host city, provide a hefty boost to that income. Most of these special events take place on Saturday with a continuation onto game day. This revenue would certainly decrease with only half a day on Saturday to run before the game.

Likewise, the host city gets more hotel revenue and more tourist revenue by having the game on Sunday. Tourists arrive either late on Friday or early on Saturday and spend the rest of their time spending money. If the game were played on Saturday this would eliminate a full day of tourist revenue. Now, certainly many tourists would stay through Sunday in any case but the loss of revenue would certainly be significant.

Ok, now we’ve uncovered the reason for the game staying on Sunday, can we come up with a solution to the problem? The only real solution that I can think of is to have some sort of national holiday on the Friday before the Super Bowl (if the game is on Saturday) or the Monday after (if the game remains on Sunday). The NFL has proposed such solutions but it seems unlikely that the government will get involved and even if they do, some companies would ignore the holiday and this might curtail some of the revenue generation.

So, for all our critical thinking we don’t have an easy solution. That’s the way of it sometimes but at least I have some peace of mind as to why the game continues to be played on a Sunday.

I would suggest that we all try to use our critical thinking skills when faced with a seemingly absurd situation. Oftentimes you will find that Wishful Thinking has blinded you to the reality of a dilemma.

Tweet, Link, Like, Comment, and all the rest if you think other people might like to read this!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist