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?