Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Kids Are Far From All Right

A big "terrible job" to everyone involved with the "Let's shake hands" project at that school in Massachusetts.

This one really made me ill, and I've been thinking about how to describe my feelings about it.

I laughed so hard when I heard that some yankee fans at the school were afraid to wear their yankee hats to school. Talk about the skies parting and the sweetest gifts of heaven pouring down on the earth.

They dished it out, for more than a little while, and now they will be taking it. And if you're a yankee fan parent of a young child, you better damn well explain the Red Sox-yankees thing to them before you send them to school. Especially if you are living in Massachusetts. Sit them down and tell them about all that you and your kind have said and done to the Red Sox fans. Let them know that you, and they, are now being paid back in full. If they feel this is too much for them, then just tell them to wear a different hat. In fact, it's good that the yankee fan parents have to see their children teased, as a form of punishment for what they, the adults, have done.

As a Red Sox fan growing up in the "New York area" section of New England, I put up with all of it, for my whole life, and always wore the Sox hat, no matter how "threatened" I felt. Even at yankee Stadium. (Pictures with evidence to follow.)

I was once at the Stadium as a fairly young kid. After a yankee home run, a drunken man walked down the aisle, stood in front of me, and said, "yankees, baby!" Then he proceeded to pour the entire contents of his beer cup down his throat in celebration. (This image is a contributing factor to why I don't drink.)

But this is the beauty part: The guy later came back, after my dad had told him to get the hell away from his son, and calmly whispered in my ear, "This is what this rivalry's all about, you know. If your team was winning I'd expect the same from you."

That's awesome! That's what I'm talking about. You tease the other side, which gives them the right to tease you back, if and when their turn ever comes.

Now some of us choose to taunt in different ways than others. I prefer not to go up to little kids and yell drunkenly in their faces.

In fact, in "real life," I don't do it to people at all. All right, maybe behind their backs, and from the safety of my car, but in general, I'm more the "Sit by the river long enough and the bodies of your enemies will float by" type.

That's a Chinese proverb. I read it at work today. And I'm glad it did, as it gives a little bit of classin'-up to this piece. (As does calling it a "piece" as opposed to a "thing.")

My point is, when I do tease yankee fans, it's about their team. Granted, if they have a dumb haircut, or ridiculous orange shoes or something, the human animal in me is naturally going to giggle a little harder. Which is dangerous, as I've seen what a lifetime of the other person's (my own) team's losing can do to people (yankee fans). It made many of them believe that they are truly superior beings. I don't ever want to reach that point. I don't want to become what I have despised for so long.

These parents are completely missing the point. Their intentions may be good--I agree, we do need to teach peace and understanding and tolerance. Especially to the impressionable youth. But trying to tell their favorite baseball teams to be nice to each other on the field? Come on. How about teaching the kids themselves to shake hands? I never got hurt over baseball loyalties because I was taught non-violence as a kid, but also because almost all my friends were yankee fans. You tease your friends. About their team, not their skin color or their accent. The kids who make fun of other kids for that stuff are pricks, anyway. Having that kid's favorite baseball team shake hands with the teasee's team isn't going to solve anything.

Do they want the games to end in a tie, too? You can't do that. There are good and bad things about sports. One good thing is that it teaches competition. If tempers flare, it just means the competition is healthier. These players aren't reaching for their guns after the game. (There have been more school shootings in the last week than baseball shootings in the last, I don't know, hundred years.) If you take society's example of competition, which is sports, and subtract the competition, than there's nothing left to use to teach kids about the "real life" competition that they soon will be dealing with. Why take that away?

Another thing these parents are overlooking is that fact that we already are in an era where players are very friendly to each other. If they've ever been to a game and have watched the players during batting practice, or seen a guy meet up with an opposing fielder when he reaches base and laughs and jokes with him, they should know this.

I think it's just a publicity stunt. Or a yankee fan parent on the verge of suicide, desperately trying to regain his superiority, or at the very least, equality.

Now, when I say suicide, it makes me think of how the two sets of fans really have let their teams' ultimate results affect them as people. Only an 86 year run like the one that just ended can affect peoples' real lives the way it has.

I'll close, naturally, with a pop culture analogy.

After the Yankees treated the other teams like crap in The Bad News Bears, they gave a half-hearted apology to the Bears after edging them in the championship game. Now, the kids from this modern day school would probably accept the apology and shake hands. (And maybe even asking if they could share 1st place! Yeah!) Oh, how far we have come from the line the Bears countered with in the movie, almost 30 (holy crap!) years ago:

"Hey, Yankees! You can take your apology and your trophy and shove it straight up your ass!"

I don't know if you intended for this, but the last line of this post and Norman the Bee from your previous post are a very nice juxtaposition on the page. If you intended that, kudos to you. If not, kudos to your subconscious.

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Location: Rhode Island, United States