Friday, November 07, 2014

Oh shirt!

As a writer and fan, few things bug me more than war metaphors applied to sports. Games are not battles. Athletes are not warriors. Simply because they aren't. Sports and war are two entirely different things. Beyond the fact that there are opposing sides, they have nothing whatsoever to do with each other. To attempt to draw similarities between them is to artificially inflate the depth and meaning of games and those who play them for the purpose of entertaining spectators. These metaphors are applied to all sports from time to time but football practically feeds on them. As a practice, it's crude, lazy and frankly, kind of tasteless. Of course, I suppose war metaphors are not as crude and inappropriate as rape metaphors. This is a picture of a t-shirt that was issued to football players at Arlington Martin High School in Arlington, Texas.
It says "Martin Football - We take what we want - Shhhhhhh - Just let it happen" and was apparently the brainchild of students(!). Predictably, adults affiliated with the school and its football program don't see a problem.
“It’s sickening to me that the (slogan) was misconstrued, And it’s weird that it has been out for so long and just came up.” - Kevin White, booster club president
“I've seen the shirts several times since July, and not once did it cross my mind that it was inappropriate. I have a wife, I have a daughter, I have a mother. Our players have sisters and cousins. It’s unwarranted. Our kids deserve better, especially from their own school. One of the things we've done really well throughout the years is winning the take-away battle, In fact, when you leave our locker room, there’s only one billboard on the wall and it simply says ‘take aways.’ The act of piracy, taking what you want. What we want is the football.” - football coach Bob Wager
Ohhh, so it's supposed to be a pirate football thing, not a pirate rape thing. Okay, that helps me understand the imagery; I was thinking that the Martin mascot was Native American Pirates with Gym Memberships. It does not however, wash with the words on the shirt. Can you imagine a high school football player, perhaps a defensive end, pumped up with adrenaline coursing through his body just prior to the snap, feet pawing the turf like an about-to-charge rodeo bull, screaming "WE TAKE WHAT WE WANT!".

Sure, that's reasonably something that might happen during a football game.

Now imagine what happens next. The ball is snapped, our defender fires off the line so quickly and ferociously that he catches the opposing tackle by surprise. In a flash he's past him and in the offensive backfield. A running back who stayed behind to block offers only token resistance and the defender is bearing down on a defenseless quarterback. His legs churning like pistons, he embraces the quarterback in a vice-like grip with one powerful arm and clawing at the ball in the quarterback's hands with the other, and he says softly, "Shhhhhhh, just let it happen".


The booster club president says the slogan has been around a long time, though. According to the Star-Telegram, the team is currently 6-2 (5-0 in District 4-6A), has won five straight games and is expected to make the playoffs for the ninth consecutive year under coach Wager. It must be working! Along with a defensive game plan that emphasizes intimidating behavior, failure to respect boundaries, maybe slipping a little "mood enhancer" into the opponents water supply, where their provocative uniforms (come on, look at those tight, shiny pants) suggest that they're practically begging to fumble the ball away or throw an interception. Come on, you know they want it.

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