Fight of the Century, Flavor of the Day

It was a beautiful 80 degree day in Wisconsin. The kind of day with a horizontal proclivity, with a sunshine-hot breeze-coolness, where the birds can’t spare a breath but for the idiot song of their tiny tongues. In short, God bless. Which may all strike as unrelated, but I feel it gives a Big Mac Index for my portion of the 100-dollar pay-per-view.

For the first undercard the surprise wasn’t the mass of empty seats but the sparse attendees. Were these the newly rich, anxious for this first appearance, sweating torrents down Chanel, and tapping Choos, to put their practiced smile into the pot? Or, more likely, they were seat holders for paranoid fame: Clint Eastwood with senile egoism demanding to have his seat warmed by the female measurements 36-24-32, brunettes only. Forgive me for not believing in fiscally endowed fans of Ukrainian fighter Vasyl Lomachenko, though you shouldn’t, he put on the best show of the night.

During and after the second noncompetitive fight we were finally graced with some fans. Tom Brady smiled into our cupped ears, his voice raw from an appearance at the Kentucky Derby, recalibrating our social GPS which lost him briefly after a 7 pm tweet on the saltiness of a Sal Vanitos h’ordeuvre and the timely utility of a mimosa. Denzel stood cryptic in a horse shoe of facial hair, refusing to say anything but make bassy moans into the interview mic: meant to assure us of the energy surrounding the event, of the “juice in the building.” DeNiro and the aforementioned Eastwood came in wispy and death-to-all-combs windblown, ready to sag before the violence. Paris Hilton spun in circles. Michael Jordan and Miss Wink-Wink Nudge-Nudge, a silent hubba-hubba attached to his elbow, put bookies hearts to flutter. Bradley Cooper, began this sentence. And many cried bingo after Jay-Z and Beyonce filled out the obligatory power couple at seat O 47, leaving Agassie and Graf to play a second fiddle a-piece on all things not irony as announcers used their image to unconscionably utter the word charity. In short, the stars were arranged ringside as in the night, and we with the announcers concocted shapes of them – a bull, the taut bow slings the arrow – with meanings and signs to match: the whom is cheering for what whom. All far removed, needle eyes, and heaven. Only five hundred tickets were available to the general public.

(EPA)

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Overturning Pitchforks

Sure, let’s make him fat. Certainly, huge. A political cartoon man representing the NFL watches his TV, lusting after the teary-eyed solidarity surrounding the lifetime ban of Donald Sterling. Now that’s good for business – trust.

On Feb 26th, the NFL was reminded that it’s just not that easy. Rather than admit it made a mistake or wait for the next scandal, which, given the NFL’s track record, couldn’t have been but a couple months out, the league chose to photoshop itself ahead of the issue, flex moral discipline, and in short, do anything to distract us from chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Once again this pandering ignored due process and its own collective bargaining agreement.

Give it time to belch and collect itself, and the NFL will jealously point out the many ways the NBA lucked into their Sterling example: an eccentric eighty-year-old, easing into dementia, whose uncouth milkshake of bigotry and entitlement had been stinking up the apartment for years, was caught venting his usual inbred prowess, not by concerned employees, writers or citizens, but the tabloid journalists at TMZ. So why shouldn’t Goodell and crew (fart noise) be able to catch a similar break from Law & Order: TMZ?

When each of these stories hit, positive discussions took place on entrenched racism, domestic abuse and corporal punishment. I don’t mean to judge the sincerity of public reaction but question its direction: there seemed to be a level of highbrow bloodthirst. When I heard Rice and Peterson discussed, it was about what the NFL knew: was the punishment too steep, too lax; is it enough to turn viewers off, to affect ad revenue. The law as it is for every man was either assumed or ignored. The Rice scandal did more to show the weakness in domestic violence law than in NFL policy. The best reaction was generic – raise awareness. In all the media noise I may have missed the impact that it had, but it felt like a sad testament to our present political climate that change only took place in the smaller, broken lobbyocracym, of business. It wasn’t us, it was Rice; it wasn’t every workplace, just the NFL; and in effort to look tough, to appease we the consumer, the league was more than ready for the pitch of vigilantism circulating.

There is a world of difference between Sterling and Rice, between a protected necessary evil and the criminal, but is it strange to think these organizations should have had to do anything above the law? Should not the law embrace the scope of our reaction onto every man, onto ourselves? I realize the glorious simplification I’ve made, but the point remains. At some point organizations cross the line from self-governance to processing law. By grabbing our pitchfork we lose some of the power as citizens that we gained as consumers.