Why You Should Keep Saying Soccer

Real life, Twitter, TV, articles… this keeps coming up. I want to be clear. The game they are playing at odd hours on the corpses of immigrant workers far off in the desert is called soccer. No “in America” or “by Americans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, the Irish, Pakistanis, South Africans, Nigerians… et al.” clarification needed. The game is Association Football, shortened by weird Oxford students who add -er to the end of everything to Soccer Football and later just Soccer. The game falls under the same identifying umbrella as Rugby Football, Gaelic Football, American Football, Australian Rule Football, and Hockey (field for certain – I’m not sure about ice.)

No sane person has a problem with anyone calling the game football in a context that makes it clear which of the many games you are referring to that are encompassed by the word. The British can say football all they want, knowing that those around them understand what is being referenced is the type of football known as Association Football, just as I casually use the word football to refer to the American Football type in which Alabama just beat Alabama Polytechnical Institute 49 to 27. I do have a problem when some East End denizen thousands of miles away gets a bee in his trunk or a local hipster with a crisp on his shoulder and a copy of Proust sitting on his night table that he’s started six times gets high and mighty because I or someone else is more specific than he wants to be.

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How To Deal with That Family Member at Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving dinner

[This entry is cross posted at ordinary-times.com]

Thanksgiving dinner is intended to be a convivial affair. Much is made of the idea that we should stop and consider our blessings, note the good that others have done for us, count the times that we have feared but not lost, and the recognize than when we have lost the sadness felt was in proportion to the joy we were lucky enough to share in. I’ll not object to such exercizes. We should enumerate and recognize the things that make our lives better and give thanks for them each and separately. I don’t think I’ve ever done that, but we should. To me, and I assume many others, the wonder of Thanksgiving comes from less the mental tabulations – again, worthy activities – than time set aside to spend in communion with those we love; the feelings of thanks flowing effortlessly from and through the fellowship and unbidden forming yet another entry on the grand ledger for which we give even further thanks. Properly set, the Thanksgiving dinner table is a familial perpetual emotion machine. At least, it should be. We do our best. That’s why I’m so loathe to bring this up.

We all have that relative who is going to disrupt the Thanksgiving dinner harmony this year. It’ll likely be a man. I don’t want to be sexist, but it will. Your brother, uncle, brother in-law, father, grandfather, or cousin is going to say something controversial. Ideally, I’d sit on my hands and hope his inane thoughts get ignored and he moves on to other subjects, but these days there are devoted cable stations, web sites, and all manner of social media clamour feeding the bubble he lives in and god knows how many circular bias reinforcing bar conversations he’s a veteran of. He’s been marinating in this fantasy and has enough ammunition to blather on from soup to nuts. In addition to annoyed eye rolling adults, there’s the matter of any children present at the table. Should you sit by while a supposed authority figure fills their minds with this? You have to weigh his intrusion on their formative mind against the risk of upsetting your host and having it out with the offending presence right then and there (in which case I believe your host and probably all of the other guests will be secretly relieved and thank you later.) I say have it out. If you are cutting and decisive you may have him vanquished and silent before anyone sits at the table because when he sees Detroit playing Buffalo on TV he won’t be able to help but smugly inject some variation on “Flip channels so we can watch some real football. Brazil and Serbia, man! World Cup!” Properly armed you can end this now.

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The Empire Strikes Back and Kiffin Blows the College Football World Apart

Nick Saban said that Texas A&M paid players to sign with their football team and A&M coach Jimbo Fisher went ballistic. Fisher did nothing wrong as far as the letter, but he ran the spirit off like Bill Murray with an electron proton pack. Fisher freaked the hell out and held a press conference blaming Saban for everything from the Hindenburg disaster to New Coke and told the world that he was done with the Alabama coach and that many coaches who worked with him never would again.

The last time the two worked together was during the 2004 season and Fisher was so apparently disgusted by the “despicable” “narcissist” Saban who he strongly implied is a cheater, that he was done with the man except when in 2018 he talked to reporters outside the Alabama locker room praising his former head coach while waiting to congratulate Nick on a National Championship. Fish deal with waves and Fisher’s disgust seems to crest and through.

I’ve got a piece on this over at ordinary-times.com and spoke about it with editor Andrew Donaldson (@four4thefire) on his podcast Heard Tell (@HeardTellShow.) I linked to the parts that are specific to this post but the whole is worth your time.

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Cecil Hurt of The Tuscaloosa News


Today, in a moment of pique during the game, I may say something bad about Auburn, but I won’t mean it. The flowers and picture of Cecil Hurt in the press box was a nice gesture. Alabama fans appreciate it.

I never met Hurt, but I was behind him in line to give condolences to the mother of a friend who died far too early. The deceased suffered from a cancer that came and went over the course of ten years giving cruel hope now and then though we all knew the end was assured. I didn’t know what to say to his mom. Hurt did.

He was brief, kind, and assuring. I hope there is someone of his caliber at his funeral to give proper condolences.

I thought about that moment often when I read his work. On the page he was droll and cutting. The man I saw was gracious. He’ll be missed.  


New Post Over at the Rah! Rah! Football! Site

I’ve been delinquent around these parts. I’m hoping to get back on some sort of schedule, but until then, here’s a bit I did over at rollbamaroll.com about what’s happening to my beloved college football.

I really don’t understand. College football will tell you that their sport is the most exciting in the world, and they are right. Every game matters. The regular season is just as much a part of a championship campaign as any post season play. But then they turn around and do all the can to diminish the regular season with calls for expanding the playoffs.

They’ll tell you that college football is the only team sport without a playoff (not true, but they will tell you that.) Oddly they draw the conclusion that college football needs a playoff to emulate the less exciting games rather than that the less exciting games should emulate college football and ditch the extended post season.

Now the Name, Image, and Likeness rules are going to wreck the whole damn thing. Dammit.

Like I said, I’ll be back on these pages soon. I’m reading some really horrible books and I have opinions on t-shirts too.