This is the time of year that we give thanks to all of those who have given their lives to secure freedom for American citizens.
In fact, we are so thankful to these people that when they die in the service of the nation we give their families a whopping $769 to $1,636 per month, depending on the soldier's rank at time of death.
But enough about dead warriors - let's move on to the subject of America's real heroes, the Gods of sport. Karl Marx thought that religion was the opiate of the masses, but that's only because modern sports had not yet been invented when he was busy figuring out how to make mankind miserable.
Here at the Outrage we had planned a tribute to dead war heroes at this time of year, but who are we to fight the cultural tide? (Or backwash, as the case may be.) Who cares if most professional athletes have the mental and moral capacity of a drugged
rhinoceros? Who cares if every day brilliant men and women are redefining the world with amazing discoveries in science, medicine, and technology? Ignore 'em. Go to the hoop baby.
Real warriors endured suffering, misery, injury, and even death in the armed services. But how can that compare to the mental anguish suffered by Golden State Warrior Latrell Sprewell. His coach yelled at him. Of course, soldiers make very little money and Sprewell makes millions to work a couple hours a day playing a children's game. But he knows how to get those rebounds. Naturally enough, when Sprewell got tired of being "verbally abused" he tried to kill his coach. We wonder how a soldier who tried to strangle his commanding officer would be treated?
When the NBA had the temerity to try to discipline Sprewell for threatening to kill his boss Sprewell responded in the American way - he sued the NBA for $30 million. Focus on this: a basketball player assaults his coach, not once, but twice, and threatens to kill him. Not surprisingly, his employer fires him. The NBA Player's Union objects, defending the right of every athlete to assault his coach, and an arbitrator finds in Sprewell's favor, restating him to the team.
Unbelievably, even this is not enough for Sprewell. Lawyers for Sprewell file suit claiming that Sprewell has been the victim of racial discrimination. Take a deep breath and ponder this situation. A rich young black man tries to choke to death a much older, poorer, and smaller white man. The black athlete is not
arrested for assault, as any ordinary mortal would be. The white coach does not sue Sprewell for assault. Instead, the man who committed the assault sues his employer. It's actually possible that Sprewell will make more money, not less, as a result of his assault.
(This situation will not seem unprecedented to Outrage readers. In our last issue we told you about the lawyer who filed suit on behalf of a dead bank robber.)
Is Sprewell an exception in American sports? Hardly. Let's review the heroes of sport and America's attitude towards them.
If you're an young black man accused of a crime there's a decent chance you're headed for prison. But if you're a black man who happens to be a rich and famous athlete the odds for acquittal change dramatically. We all know about OJ, the former football star who knifed two people to death and remains a free man.
Then there's the more recent case of Red Sox player Mo Vaughn. A Massachusetts jury found him innocent of drunken driving charges, although he refused to take a Breathalyzer test and failed eight - yes eight - sobriety tests after he plowed into an abandoned car. Vaughn is in the final year of a three year contract worth $18.6 million.
Think we're just picking on a few bad apples in pro sports? Think again. During the past five years thirty seven (37) NFL players have been arrested or accused of violent family crimes, ranging from assault to kidnapping. But hey, as long as they keep it in the family.
Of course drunk driving charges like Vaughn's are almost too routine to mention. There's New York Mets outfielder Bernard Gilkey, Cincinnati Bengals running back Corey Dillon, etc., etc. Most of these cases don't involve serious injury, but some of them do. NFL star Lamar Smith was out drinking on December 1, 1994 with two of his teammates. On the way home he drove his sport-utility vehicle into a pole. While Smith and teammate Chris Warren escaped with minor injuries, the other passenger, defensive tackle Mike Frier, suffered a broken neck, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. Frier may never walk again.
Then there's sexual assault. Charlotte Hornets forward Anthony Mason was charged with statutory rape after spending the night with two girls, aged 14 and 15. His agent denies the accusations saying "There was some high jinks going on. Partying." New England running back Dave Meggett accused officers of scratching his Rolex when they arrested him on sexual assault and robbery of a 33 year old Toronto woman.
Most star athletes learn quickly that they can get away with anything. Richie Parker was a high school senior and basketball star when he was convicted of forcing a 14 year old girl to perform oral sex on him in a basement stairwell of their school. He served no time, and is now in training for the pros at Long Island University.
While in high school Allen Iverson, now a NBA star with the Philadelphia 76s, was convicted for his role in a bowling alley brawl. He was later pardoned. Iverson certainly learned from his early troubles: since turning pro has been arrested on drug and gun possession charges.
Then there's Melvin Whitaker, another fine example of sportsmanship. The 6 foot 11 inch tall basketball player used a boxcutter to slice open the face of a fellow University of Virginia student after they got into an argument during a pick-up hoops game. Although Whitaker is actually serving time for his crime, that didn't stop Mount Saint Mary's College from signing up the incarcerated player.
It's no surprise that senseless violence is so endemic to sports when the leading magazine in the sports world, "Sports Illustrated", runs articles like "Fighting For A Living." The March 16 article was an adoring tribute to Tony Twist, a National Hockey League "enforcer". Here are some excerpts from SI's tribute to Twist: "He throws (punches) to kill. I've seen him crack a helmet with a punch" says San Jose Sharks right wing Owen Nolan. "He holds you at arm's length and rocks you with big, hard rights" says St Louis bruiser Kelly Chase.
SI even published a "top ten" list of NHL brawlers with insights about what made each of the "players" notable in their ability to beat up their fellow sportsmen on the ice. The top ten list was peppered with comments like "His bouts usually go the distance" and "good stamina and ability to fend off early blows." Remember that the "sport" being written about is hockey, not boxing.
You haven't heard of men like great-grandfather Outrage (the Civil War), grandfather Outrage (World Wars One and Two) or father Outrage (the Korean War). But that's okay - they fought for unimportant things like freedom and justice. Fortunately, you have heard of men like Sprewell, Vaughn, Iverson, and Twist. They've fought for important things like signing bonuses, playoff victories, unrestricted free agency, and great stats.
We've saved a lot of money by paying skimpy benefits to the families of dead warriors. But's it's all for a higher good, as we're now able to spend more money on subsidizing sports stadiums. We're always glad to help out needy millionaire athletes and the billionaires who own sports franchises.
We were planning on going to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Memorial Day. But we're trying to get more in sync with modern America, so we decided to stay home and watch the big game on the tube. After all, baseball's as American as dying for your country. Maybe more so.