Trolls, Sadists, and The Olympics – Oh My

The Olympics have drawn to a close and it seems as though it was filled with just as much scandal as it was exciting competition. Sadly, it was not without heartbreak or injury either.

If any of you have been following the games, you may have heard about the injury suffered by French Olympian, Samir Ait Said. In the midst of his vault routine landing, Said suffered a broken leg. Not his first. But still devastating and horrific. First, let me say my heart immediately went out to him as images of Joe Thiesmann flashed in my head. And I’m glad to say Said seems to be recovering well, as well as one can after such a terrible event.

But all of that is beside the point, how did I discover this piece of news? Luckily I didn’t witness it like I did Theismann’s injury – that one is still rattling around in my head I’m very sorry to report. No, it was a normal day pretty much like any other day and as I so often do, I was browsing my Facebook newsfeed when lo and behold a news article popped up detailing Said’s botched landing, his subsequent insult to injury when the paramedics dropped him while he was strapped onto a gurney, and an update on his recovery (as much as was known then).  Believe it or not, the story of this awful incident was not the most disturbing thing about the Facebook post in question. Not by a long shot.

You see, apparently the media outlet posting this article had decided to show some respect (gasp!  I know, right!?) to both the athlete and presumably its audience and opted NOT to show the stomach-churning video of the gruesome injury. In fact, from what I understand, numerous news sites and even the Olympic committee had removed various versions of the video due to its grisly nature, not to mention, once again, respect.  And frankly, what purpose does it serve to air such a thing?  But I’m jumping ahead of myself.

As I mentioned, the news story was not the worst thing about this Facebook post and that’s saying something. No. The worst thing was the slew of comments from the bloodthirsty…well, let’s see…trolls? No, that’s not right. Sadists? Horror-mongers? I could come up with some better names, but my mother reads this blog. I digress. Back to the comments.

The story alone was quite detailed and the author talented enough to paint a word picture for his audience — a word picture that was more than adequate to conjure a mind’s eye view of what occurred to this poor gymnast.

And yet. There it began. The vocal outcry of the offended masses culled from the cream of our society. “Where’s the video!?” asked one. “Why’d you guys take it down?” whined another. “Someone needs to re-post on YouTube or something, man!” decried one technologically clever soul. “Really, you’re not going to show it!?” demanded one particularly impatient individual.  As you might imagine the comments and discussion only went downhill from there.

The conversation kind of devolved into the equivalent of an incessantly whining toddler throwing an ever-growing tantrum because you turned off his beloved Teletubbies. Yet it wasn’t their whining or incredibly childish gore-filled demand for the video that bothered me, although that was bad enough, it was the “why” behind their communal outrage.

In fact, I dare you to look around on YouTube at what some of these like-minded…people…are watching these days. Live fights between young pregnant women, people getting hit by cars, animals being tortured, and a number of less than “innocent” sadistic pranks. Oh, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

It continues to beg the question, what the hell is wrong with our society? Why are we obsessed with violence and inundated with the demand to see other living, breathing beings suffer? Is it funny for some people, or is it just some sick urge even they don’t understand? Either way I really do worry for the future sometimes. We seem to be barreling towards the extreme southern district of the afterlife a lot faster than originally forecast with no hand-basket in sight.

Just a Girl

Could a girl pitcher…well, a 17-year-old…strike out the best baseball hitters of the time – namely Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig?

I say yes, why not?

But a lot of folks prefer to believe that it was just a publicity hoax. Why? Well, because how could a girl strike out two men, let alone Ruth and Gehrig?

Way back in 1931, the president of the Chattanooga Lookouts Double A baseball team invited the New York Yankees to play two exhibitions games with them. A week before the games were held, he signed a female pitcher, a 17-year-old left-hander named Jackie Mitchell who specialized in a sinking curve ball.

In the first exhibition game, on April 2, 1931, the Lookout’s starting pitcher gave up hits to the first two batters. He was pulled and Jackie Mitchell was sent in to face Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. She struck them both out – Ruth caught looking and Gehrig whiffing on three straight pitches. (She walked the next batter and was pulled afterward. The Yankees would go on to win the game 14-4, by the way.)

And controversy has swirled around this event ever since – did she actually strike out Ruth and Gehrig? Or was it all a hoax cooked up for the newspapers to generate interest in the team?

The event is covered in a July 2013, Smithsonian Magazine article entitled: The Woman Who (Maybe) Struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, written by Tony Horwitz.

Note that Horvitz mentions this controversy in the title – the girl who “maybe” struck out Ruth and Gehrig. Actually both the title and the author’s adamant opinion (when approached by his young son with the facts) pretty much set the tone for his commentary.

But c’mon. It’s not like Ruth and Gehrig never struck out! Ruth’s lifetime average is .342, meaning he got a hit approximately 3 out of 10 times at bat. Gehrig’s average was .340.

And when you’re facing a new pitcher you’ve never seen before, with a sinking curveball (taught to her by “Dazzy” Vance, by the way – a strikeout master during his prime playing years), why couldn’t they strike out?

Well, because they were facing a girl, of course! Of course it had to be a hoax! A put on. A delayed April Fool’s joke. Or so everyone says now. It couldn’t just be that a girl got the upper hand on two of baseball’s greats, regardless of her amazing talent, mind you.

It would have helped if Mitchell would have been able to continue her career on the Lookouts, but that was not to be. Her contract was voided rather quickly by the baseball commissioner of the time because of the general consensus among players (Ruth a huge voice among them) that baseball was just too strenuous for women. This was the same kind of thinking that meant that girls who played basketball had to have teams of 6 players – 3 who stayed in the back court on defense and three who only played in the front court on offense, so they wouldn’t have to run up and down the court and thereby injure their “women parts” and be unable to bear children! And even up until the 1960s, women weren’t allowed to participate in marathons for the same reason…despite the fact that female athletes who defied such strictures had proven over and over again that there were no adverse medical effects! Which sort of goes without saying. Duh.

Today, boys and girls play together on Little League teams. There are female place kickers – well, a couple anyway – in college football. And with Melissa Mayeux, the seriously talented, French short stop (at 16 years old) having just been added to the MLB international registration list – it’s really just a matter of time before women are actively playing in the Major Leagues.

We’ve come a long way, baby…

Womens History

The Age-Old Question

Toughest player: rugby or football?  Oh come on, you weren’t expecting something amazingly philosophical were you? It’s Saturday for goodness sake.  Not exactly a required thinking day.    And besides, the Superbowl is tomorrow after all…I figure it’s time to stir the pot about one of our national past-times.

I’ll readily admit that I’m not much of a sports fan. You’ll never see me with my face painted in the stands or praying to the sports gods for a certain team to be victorious over another. It’s just not that important to me. To each their own. I doubt I’ll watch the Superbowl, but if I do watch, it would be more for the commercials than the game.  I do know a few things about sports though, enough to follow whatever game is on.

I’ve always been aware of how “tough” people in the United States think football players are. Now, before I go any further, I will say that I’m 100% positive that every single football player in the NFL probably has a higher pain tolerance than I do. That’s sort of expected when their chosen line of work includes getting hit by 300lb men on a regular basis.   Although I have given birth.  Twice.  For whatever that’s worth in the pain comparison arena.

Anyway, rugby happened to be on t.v. last week which is kind of an odd occurrence around here and it got me thinking about the varying levels of athletic “toughness” that exist on a global scale. I have to say that I’m definitely on the side of rugby when it comes to ranking the most batshit crazy and physically impervious athletes.  This is meant as a compliment.  Rugby players are impressive.  And they work their magic for a hell of a lot less than NFL players.

And let’s face it, the NFL is governed by so many rules that it’s often referred to as the “No Fun League” because of all the safety measures that must be followed.  See?  Told you I knew something about sports.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for player safety. I’m just saying that rugby players could be considered a good bit tougher than NFL players.  I mean they have to be.  They don’t have to deal with the same stringent discipline standards…. not to mention way less protective gear and pads for bodily preservation.

Rugby has a well-documented rogue’s gallery of dirty tactics and deceptive moves that are downright appalling, yet the players going into the game fully expect them to happen.  And boy do they make the game interesting!  Ever heard of bag snatching? It’s when a player has his testicles yanked in the scrum. How about gouging? That’s when one player pushes his thumb as far into the eye of an opponent as possible. According to UK’s Telegraph there have even been reports of penis biting made. These barbaric acts are so common they have names associated with them – how cool is that!?  Oh…umm… I mean, how horrible is that!?  And all of this while sustaining tackles that our players would never dream of enduring without major padding.  I can definitely see why rugby is a popular sport….just not so much here in the US.

For my money, any game where a player can expect to get kicked in the head and has to wear covers over his ears just so they don’t get torn off is the tops when it comes to “toughness.” Would our NFL players with all their pads stripped away and nothing to shield them from a hulking mass of a rabid New Zealander bearing down on them with bloodlust in his eyes still want to compete? I don’t think so.  But if that does ever happen, I think I’ll finally tune in to watch some sports.