Jewish World Review Nov. 1, 2001/ 15 Mar-Cheshvan, 5762

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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Consumer Reports

Unlucky in sports -- WHEN it comes to sports, there could be no people more star-crossed than those of the Grand Canyon state. Attempts to bring national caliber sporting events to Phoenix are legendarily comedic. Phoenix once wrested control of some sort of Grand Prix from Detroit. Ah, big engines on paved streets in desert heat in June. Not only can one fry an egg on the sidewalk here in June, tires have trouble enduring. Our airports are not closed for rain, sleet, wind, snow, nor dark of night. Our airports close because the specs for jet tires only go up to 120 degrees.

Ergo, a Phoenix Grand Prix in June with tire barricades is risky. With melting safety, those spectators not plowed down were baked, in the dry heat, of course, into gingerbread people as they tried to spectate. End the Phoenix Grand Prix.

St. Louis sold us a bill of goods with the transfer of the many Bidwells that accompany the Cardinals football team. St. Louis got itself a Bidwelless team that went on to the Super Bowl. For the Phoenix Cardinals the end zone is uncharted territory.

Still we keep slugging, as it were. We spent the last 2 years voting in taxes to buy the lackluster Cardinals a new stadium, to be built immediately next to the 70,000-seat Arizona State University stadium the Cardinals use currently. However, the new stadium will have much less parking. No worries. Fans can use airport parking because the new Cardinal stadium is within one mile of the airport runways and situated directly in the flight path. The FAA is getting fussy about 80,000 sitting ducks in the final landing approach. Those who own land near the site, where low-flying overhead jets make conversation impossible, insist, "Who knew?"

Four years ago when Jerry Colangelo, the man who brought us the loser NBA Suns, announced his major league baseball dreams, we did what we usually do in Arizona - voted in taxes to build a ball park. But, we got to choose the team name -- poisonous serpents indigenous to our tireless deserts.

However, the Arizona Diamondbacks making it to the World Series in franchise record time is a coup de grace on Arizona's sports curse. Nay, 'tis not to be. The opposing team is the New York Yankees. Not only are the Yankees a winning team, World Series-wise, they are the center of the national pity party. If the Diamond backs should win, and the bookies see it otherwise, they will be the relative in the red dress at the funeral. They are tolerated, but with plenty of skunk eyes.

This is a Yankees World Series and the Diamondbacks are the sacrificial lamb. Even the reporting shows a fait accompli. The stories focus on the "New York Yankees" and "Arizona." The Arizona No-Names, rooky clodhoppers from a state with tumbleweeds. Names bespeak attitude and culture. NY sportswriters are named Murray Chass and Tyler Kipner. We have Slim Smith.

If sports are a route to normal life, a temporary respite from war and terrorists, then this New York mantra of winning one for the victims is poor form. The Yankees have wrapped themselves in victimhood.

Sports has succumbed to externalities. Sports holds no charm for me, but it has been society's last bastion of merit. Affirmative action, quotas and all the formulae imposed on other employers don't apply to professional sports. The WNBA is sinking because broads playing basketball just doesn't carry the same skill or thrill. Duke may be stuck with a female place kicker under Title IX, but the 49ers aren't. The Phoenix Cardinals might try it, however, because they could do no worse.

MVPs earn their titles because of what they do in the game, not because of personal angst. Outside of sports, merit fades. At college and university graduation ceremonies, awards for outstanding graduates focus on "personal challenges."

A disproportionate number of such awards go to unwed mothers. University officials always find a woman who got her degree while being a single parent. In presenting the award, they offer details on the graduate's triumph over what was once unspoken. One year we had an outstanding graduate unwed mother praised because she was the third generation such unwed mother, finishing college as grandmother and mother babysat in their fatherless multigenerational home.

These graduates deserve our support. But what message does their glorification send to those graduates who had higher GPAs and were chaste? And what of those graduating students who married in order to give their child a home with two parents? The subliminal suggestion is pity motivates the academic awards, not merit.

It is in that pity corner that the Diamondbacks find themselves. They may well be the better students. But how can they take away a title from a victim team? Perhaps by being the better team? Nope, the Oprah cult has invaded major league sports. The cultists chip away at merit in favor of victimhood. And Arizona's sports luck continues.

JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.


10/26/01: An epidemic of counselitis
10/16/01: A touch of class
10/12/01: Of human nature and monsters
10/05/01: Sensitive man
10/01/01: Post-September 11 security
09/20/01: No tinhorn terrorists can frighten us
09/06/01: If there is no honor in youth sports, it is because of the adults
08/27/01: The draw of Condit
08/23/01: Lowering expectations and flying high
08/17/01: Thoreau, Walden and stems cells
08/13/01: Our masters: The animals
07/30/01: When principle hits too close to home
07/13/01: Rage born of sublimation
07/06/01: Patient's rights and the Valley of Death
06/29/01: There is no excuse
06/21/01: I want an eternal soulmate, but the marriage thing is another issue
06/14/01: Which way maverick McCain? An Arizonan's perspective
06/07/01: No stroke of genius
05/30/01: The lesson of the Mr. Green Jeans senator: 'Moderate' is a classy term for wishy-washy
05/25/01: Baseball has not been so good to me
05/18/01: Clothes make the woman
05/11/01: Selective precaution
05/04/01: Grades: Equality of students, by students, for the students
04/27/01: The Horowitz revelations as seen by a college professor
04/20/01: First, let's kill all the tests
04/13/01: The continuing mistake of underpricing electricity
04/06/01: That pill, Julia Roberts
03/29/01: If it weren't for the parents, we might accomplish something
03/23/01: The melt down of the academy
03/15/01: Columbine redux: Moral infants
03/09/01: The lessons of Tom and Nicole
03/01/01: Pardon the temporary outrage
02/23/01: In defense of homework
02/20/01: A Message for faith-based organizations: Don't take the money, just run
02/06/01: Enough already with the Clintoons
01/26/01: The challenge to be better than we have been
01/19/01: Where have you gone Frieda Pushnik?
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12/23/00: Litigation: It's the American way
12/15/00: In defense of rhetoric
12/06/00: The company we keep: Lawyers and elections
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11/20/00: Put me out of my misery
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11/13/00: When it's broke, fixing it wouldn't offend the Framers
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09/29/00: The capacity for truth
09/22/00: Charity with strings and an agenda
09/15/00: The taming of the shrew: Gloria Steinem takes a husband
09/09/00: Why rich folk don't bother me none
08/28/00: Survival of the not-so-fit but conniving
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08/18/00: Resenting the accusations of racial prejudice
08/04/00: Women: Their own worst enemy
07/21/00: Hillary: Our longshoreman First Lady
07/21/00: SUVs: The root of all evil
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06/14/00: Sex and the City: The shallow but vulgar female
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06/02/00: Oh, Canada: Our Nutty Neighbors to the North
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05/12/00: Taking your lumps
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04/11/00: The monsters we're raising with the ergo proposition
04/05/00: Endowing the Hooters Chair for Literature Appreciation
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02/22/00: Cranky nitpickers make writing a [sic] experience
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02/08/00: McCandidate McCain: Flirting with principles
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01/25/00: Stroke of the pen, law of the land: Clinton's Camelot
01/18/00: Off the Rocker Rorschach Test
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01/04/00: Struggling mightily amidst the comfort
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12/14/99: Drop-kicking the homeless
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11/18/99: The elusive human spirit and accountability
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10/28/99: Live by litigation, die by litigation
10/22/99: Jesse, Warren, Cybill, Donald and Oprah
10/14/99: Inequality and injustice: It's the big one
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09/30/99: The monsters of epidermal parenting
09/21/99: The Diversity Hoax
09/15/99: Waco Wackos
09/09/99: Selective censorship
09/01/99: The village, the children, judicial imperialism and abortion
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06/30/99: That intellectually embarrassing Second Amendment
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06/22/99: Dems and the Creator coup
06/17/99: True courage is more than just admitting troubles

© 2000, Marianne M. Jennings