Less Air Apparent

Header photo by Frankileon from Flickr

I asked Trail Baboon poet laureate Schuyler Tyler Wyler to craft an ode to sports figures who, more probably than not, cheat.

Of course he wanted to know who I was talking about.

“No one in particular,” I said.  “But everyone, sort of.”

Naturally he wanted to know what sort of poem he should write, which was a funny question because STW only writes one kind of poem.

“Just give me some immortal lines that deal with taking advantage of a situation and lying about it afterwards, ” I told him.  “If it means you have to steal someone else’s poem,  just don’t tell me about it.”

Within the hour, he had produced this:

If you can grip footballs when all about you
With jealous stares are criticizing you.
If you commit such fouls that tall men doubt you,
And call your claims of innocence, “Untrue”;
If you’re a pitcher who is fond of scuffing
Or muscled batter – super steroid size.
Or a striker –  injured?  No, but bluffing!
Who fakes so well he even cries:

If you can bet on games and not have fans desert you,
Or ride the Alps while chemically enhanced,
And still the masses want to wear a shirt you
signed and wore while pedaling through France.
If scandals sprout around you, and get covered,
just pray your own malfeasance never shows.
There is a chance your sins won’t be discovered.
But – if it is – Hey, welcome to … the pros!

I told STW this was such a blatant ripoff of Rudyard Kipling it was an embarrassment and even I couldn’t look the other way. “What is more”, I said, “you didn’t even steal the whole thing. If this lousy poem was a football, it would be deflated by about half.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. “I’m an artist. Where’s my money?”

How far should rules be allowed to bend?

30 thoughts on “Less Air Apparent”

  1. Good morning. It would be nice if when rules are broken, it wouldn’t involve a double standard. Some rules should be broken because they are bad rules or are used to hide the truth. Our government, which should not use a double standard when it comes to rules, has been hiding the truth from us and breaking rules to do this.

    When whistleblowers who reveal secret information about bad government practices, like John Kiriakou, they are put in jail for breaking rules to expose these bad practices.. Kiriakou wen to jail for providing the press with information about water boarding. The government has been know to release secret information that supports what they want to do without holding anyone accountable for releasing this secret information.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was born and raised a hard-core Teutonic black&white rule enforcer (not necessarily a follower, some rules are stupid, after all).

    I like to think I’ve lightened up over time.

    Decision making is more complicated, life in general is more pleasant.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rise and Test the Limits Baboon!

    Another fine parody, Dale.

    My guess is that the NFL is filled with limit testers. Idon’t have an answer to this one–some rules are foolish and need to tested, bent or flaunted. Others require complete compliance, i.e. drive on the right side of the road and stay there!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. When it came to sports, my dad was an iron clad, go by the rulebook sort of referee/umpire. In other aspects of his life, however, he bent the rules like crazy. (I think I have mentioned the stolen U-haul truck he moved us from Winnipeg to Indiana in previous posts.) I am somewhat like my dad, in that, if bending the rules follows common sense, then by all means let’s bend the rules. People see me as a inveterate rule follower, so I can get by with lots of rule bending and no one ever suspects. That is all I will say about it, so I don’t blow my cover.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Rules about art and writing are like those braces you see on young trees–they’re necessary for learning the craft, but once you learn them thoroughly you get to choose when and how to break them for best effect. I’m far from a no-rules kind of person–seems like too much freedom without concurrent responsibility ends up turning into self-indulgent infantilism–but I certainly object to pointless rules that are only meant to reinforce control. My work, for instance, will be the same whether I wear jeans and sneakers in the office or chinos and oxfords.

    If I were a D&D character, my alignment would be Neutral Good. My moral code exists independent of social rules, and if the two coincide, great, but if they don’t, I stick to what I think is right and to Hel Lokisdottir with the majority.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I agree, some rules are more flexible than others. Some rules I bend routinely, others I follow pretty religiously. If there’s what I consider a good reason for the rule, I’ll generally follow it. If, on the other hand, it doesn’t make sense to me, I’ll pretty much ignore it. The trick to bending rules is not getting caught.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I was testifying in court years ago in a child abuse case when a defense lawyer objected to my testimony, saying that what the child had told me was hearsay. The judge, who we often referred to as “The Hanging Judge” said, “Well, I suppose it is hearsay but we are going to hear it anyway”. I believe we were able to keep the child in foster care.

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  8. Just looked out the window and saw a squirrel sitting inside our hanging bird feeder, having taken the top off of the feeder. Talk about breaking the rules!

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    1. Yeah, but who died and made you King?
      Talk about a dumb rule. One that’s been allowed to perpetuate too long with too many artist intentionally taking little or no money it’s become the standard practice. Phooey.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Just because I love my work doesn’t mean I get a discount at the grocery store (apologies for poor wordsmithing, but I’m too tired to try and fix it-consider grammatical rules severely bent).

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve just read and listened to a tsunami of opinion about how evil the Patriots were in this case. Nobody seems to be asking two questions: 1) why should the NFL have rules about ball inflation and 2) why is the standard inflation number is as high as it is. If people frequently break rules that might be a hint there are too many arbitrary rules in place.

    I’d handle this differently. If the NFL passionately feels it needs to dictate inflation standards, let there be an inflation check before each game. If a team is found cheating, all team members play that game in jerseys that say “My ballls are soft.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good one! When I heard more damning information last night, my thought was “Shouldn’t the Super Ball title be awarded the opposing team now?” I mean, after all, this team’s won four years in a row!

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    2. Perhaps its just me, but what I can’t figure out is why an under-inflated ball would be an advantage to the Raiders. Both teams played with the same ball, didn’t they? So unless the Raiders routinely practice with an under-inflated ball, it shouldn’t make any difference. What am I missing?

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        1. Well, right there is a rule that practically invites teams to be “creative.” Is that true in baseball as well?

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    3. 1. There is a standard inflation check before each game on the 12 balls provided by each team (each team on offense plays with their own set). The Pats circumvented that, which is what this is all about. 2. Different inflations give certain advantages for kicking, passing, catching etc. Brady has smaller hands so he wants a smaller ball. Rules allow a quite range, within which each team mist live. What: Should they be allowed to shorten the field?
      The Pats have been caught cheat overtly before, like secretly video taping other teams practices, which in football is a huge advantage.
      Flat-out cheating went on here. 37 degrees does not reduce the pressure in a ball by much at all. All the Pats balls but one was low. The man who tended the balls did not bring them right out to the field. Video shows he went into a bathroom for close to two minutes, against all rules. Brady says pressure does not matter to him, but clearly it does by the emails read. Is this legal proof? No. Did it happen? Of course.Does it matter? As someone who played football in high school and college and coached in high school, where both teams use the same few balls, you darn tooting it matters. A center’s job is to assess the pressure and talk to officials if he thinks it is low or high. For a center pressure matters a lot.
      Next year the balls will no doubt ban handled by uniformed guards.
      I have come detest most of sports, for reasons like this. Cheating goes on all the time in all sports at the top level. Do you bend the rules in sports? I think not, but baseball is the sport where you can most play games. For instance the height of the mound matters to pitchers in different ways. So do teams play games with their home field mounds? Yes. Do teams with some good bunters slope the field at the foul lines to keep the ball from rolling foul? All the time. Do teams with slashing hitters back the dirt hard in front of home plate? yes. Do teams make the dirt loose when a visiting team has lots of slash hitters? Yes. How much is gamesmanship how much is cheating? I say everything should be equal.
      I won’t even touch how rules are different for the great players, how the strike zone is bigger for the best pitchers. It goes one and on.Sports is awful in so many ways.
      $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

      Liked by 1 person

  10. “IF” is a wonderful poem. There is also a popular setting of it to music called Song For Erik sung by Roger Whitaker. Maybe Tyler Wyler is telling the truth and found his inspiration from the hymn O Strength and Stay for Kipling used it as a template for his poem IF http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/o/s/ostrength.htm .
    “IF I WERE A RICH MAN” is also a pretty timeless hit. I also like “IF I WERE A BOY” (Beyoncé).
    IF… so many ifs…can go down many paths, and there are lots of bending, diverging roads to choose. The rules are meant to be broken if they don’t serve a higher purpose. The sixth commandment: “Thou shall not kill” has many historical examples. Greasing a pig for contests is illegal in Minnesota and I can’t figure out the higher purpose in either the game or the law but I’m sure it’s been broken many times over.
    All in all, bending truth is high art. We celebrate it with music, theater and art. We practice it socially, telling a little white lie here and there so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings. But if there is any serious bending like infidelity, or vows that are not kept, then there is the notion that a violation has occurred. To some, it depends on whether you get caught. But then again, Hilary Clinton lied about being shot at by snipers and was caught, and now she’s running for president. Brian Williams didn’t fair as well. So, I am not sure where the fine line lies. Morally speaking, the degree of recompense should be relative to the onerous task of self knowledge but how many of us spend time self-reflecting every single thought we have? There are spiritual practices that ask us to be accountable for every thought, word and deed. It is a worthy endeavor but an arduous one. It’s simply way more fun to look at other people’s wrongdoings. Lance and Lancelot had a jolly time doing their thing, one was pedaling while intoxicated, and the other was hopelessly in love. Each of their passions led to distinctive results. Lance was exposed as a liar and the poor chap was compelled to return all those gold medals even after pedaling just as hard as his fellow cyclists. You’d think he’d at least be able to keep the gold chains for some recompense. Lancelot, on the other hand, betrayed his best friend, ruined the future of the kingdom and basically destroyed lives. Thankfully, his story was fictional and contributed to the successes of Camelot and of course, Lerner and Loewe’s beautiful music.
    As far as the government’s lack of rules for bending rules, it really just depends on who has the most money. It doesn’t matter that it’s FIAT money, just as long as there is a lot it! By the way, if NASA (never a straight answer) can bend the rules and stage a moon walk or two, why not? It sure was entertaining, and they raised billions of dollars so they could do other more useful things like develop anti-gravity devices and fly to Mars (but we’re not suppose to know about that.) Anyway, I’d say there’s lot of material here for high art IF we’re up to the task.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Some very good thoughts here. My thoughts are that if there weren’t such ridiculous amounts of money involved in major sports, there would be less cheating at such significant levels. If athletes were paid like the rest of us mere mortals and treated like mere mortals, the pressure to WIN, WIN, WIN at all costs wouldn’t be such a huge factor in pushing people to do things they know are wrong. But that doesn’t take into account the pathological need to lie and inflate yourself status above others. It all comes into play.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. I had to go back and remind myself what the question was! Great discussion.

    My father was an attorney so I have a fairly strict “if it’s the law, it’s the law” view (except for traffic lights at 4 a.m., which we discussed before). But other non-legal rules? I can take them or leave them!

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  13. Sports day is a bad one for me to miss
    I have opinions on this that are the correct opinions
    Tom Brady and bill belle em should be banned for two years and New England should be named from playoffs for 5 years and lose 1st 2ndand 3rd round drafts for 3 years
    I hate scumbag cheaters
    They showed how when the required ball inflation went into effect the fumble and rcption ratio went to hll and as soon as the rules were changed to allow tems to present their own footballs the New England stats changed inferring that they started cheating immediately
    I hate guys who cut you off to but in line after waiting in traffic and people wjho are too important to abide by the same rules as everyone else
    Roger goodell will let it go and New England will think they are above the law
    Kick out the owner and make him responsible for his people. If he wasn’t paying g attention make it clear the next owner should pay attention or else
    Replace roger goodell too

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  14. I think rules can be bent up to the point where it begins to hurt someone else. Jaywalking or running traffic lights when there isn’t another car in sight hurts no one. Cheating at sports takes a victory from the person or team that rightfully deserves it.

    Liked by 1 person

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