Friday, July 22, 2005

Stupid People (Serial No. 2)

This is the second in a running series on people who live life through the narcissistic prism of modern stupidity. You can find the first in the series here. Absolutely no effort has been made to hide the real identities of characters involved in the writing of this column. Animals were probably injured and, later, cooked over an open fire and eaten with malicious intent.

Sam the Sociopathic Sports Nut

Chances are you probably have not seen Sam in some years. He's been forming a permanent cast of buttock cheeks into his sofa ever since he bought the satellite dish and the extended sport channel package. If you have seen his pale face, it was probably at the convenience store while he was making a dash for more beer at halftime. Or perhaps you caught a glimpse of him rushing to the site of the draft for one of his 28 fantasy baseball leagues.

Unlike Fred the Frustrated Weekend Jock, Sam refuses to actually participate in the traditional American sports he worships. Recreational participation in softball leagues and pick-up basketball games are not "pure enough" competition for Sam, although some suggest it's because Sam has never been adept as an athlete. If his past were retold with the unadulterated truth, not only did he not start for his high school football team, he never made it past the first cut. He can get his clogged arteries pumping for more esoteric interpretations, though -- whiffle ball league, for example.

Nothing is so sacred in life to Sam that can't be described with an aptly applied sports metaphor. A desperate moment is "fourth and long." An easy solution is a "slam dunk." Any important occasion probably begins with "bottom of the ninth and two out ..." Oddly, sports metaphors can't be applied to sports. War, in all its inhumanities, is more commonly referenced.

Sam has more icons than the Catholic Church, his house adorned with team colors and pictures of coaches and athletes with religious fervor. You might say he is a man of great faith, because he "knows" of his teams' ultimate superiority in spite of the fact they haven't sniffed the NBA Finals, the Super Bowl or a World Series since the turn of the century. The 20th century. His favorite coach's post-game comments are as spiritually fulfilling as any sermon. Question the tactics of his coach or the ability of his team and he will become as sanctimoniously defensive as a street-corner zealot. The success of his team isn't just enjoyable, it defines him. His team's success is his success. His favorite players achievements are his achievements.

His passion for sports should not be construed as a lack of intelligence. To the contrary, Sam is practically a mathematician considering his expertise in Sabremetrics and the NBA salary cap. He might not remember a single geometric theorem from high school and he barely passed statistics in college, but he can instantly recall what Don Mattingly hit against lefties with two outs and runners in scoring position during night games.

Good luck attempting to contact Sam. He won't answer the phone or come to door except for that one weekend in late October when professional sports take a short breather and his favorite college football team has a bye. It would be unfair to criticize Sam, now in his early thirties, for not having a girlfriend because he's never attempted to have a girlfriend. He's only recently left his mother's basement. You can catch him at all hours one of the 200 sports message boards he has bookmarked on his web browser, where he is likely regaling other self-imposed shut-ins with his encyclopedic knowledge of sports minutiae.

In 20 years, when Sam suffers a fatal cardiac arrest, no one will know for days. Surely, though, there will be at least one person who has the wisdom to have this message engraved on his tombstone:

"He only went six innings, but that's good enough for the win."

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