Thursday, 25 June 2015

Play By the Rules

"I've come to realize that life is but a game 
and it doesn't matter how you score but how you play 
and although the masses play the host make all the rules"

     The wide and wonderful world of sports has many parallels to what we'll call real life.  If it didn't, I wouldn't have a lot to write about.  Perhaps the most apt allegory is hockey's excellent but imperfect penalty system.  All players have a basic understanding of the rules and generally abide.  They will on occasion, intentionally or not, skirt the rules and if the referee happens to see the infraction, a punishment equal to the crime is doled out and the naughty player forfeits his right to play the game for anywhere from 2 minutes to several games.
     The idea being if you break the rules, you gain an unfair advantage.  This is antithetic  to our common ideal of sportsmanship.  The ref, of course, is only human and therefore prone to mistakes and missed calls.  You can't please the hordes of pseudo-savages (sports fans) all the time and occasionally a ref will make what is known as a bullshit call.  Sometimes it is obvious, but often the ruling is obscured by subtleties.

     In "real life", and I use that term as loose as a jock strap, the uniforms looks different but it's pretty much the same rulebook.  Most of us have been taught to play by the rules by our programmers but we will bend and at times break rules.  Tickets of the speeding and parking variety are minor deterrents to keep us in line, but it certainly doesn't prevent all people from speeding or finding imaginative parking methods.

    Some people know the rules and choose to try to get away with what they can.  The mere notion of punishment however, is enough to keep most of us in line.  Years of punishment and rewards through the "education" system see to that.

     The referee, unmistakeable in resplendent zebra stripes is an ostensibly omnipotent impartial agent, doling out justice where ever the rules are broken.  Except that refs miss calls and at times make calls where there are none to make.  Simply put, bullshit calls are routinely made, either because the ref wasn't looking or he had pigeon shit in his eyes.  Crafty players are quite aware of this fact and use it to their advantage.  Some are quite unapologetic about it.

     To think non-athletes share the same mentality is both healthily cynical and realistic.  The long arm of the law is purposefully visible and always has a strong presence in low income, poverty stricken areas with reputations.  Like Parkdale for example.  The crimes committed in areas such as these are fairly straight forward.  Assault, narcotic trafficking, the odd B&E, you get the point.  The verdicts often come quickly and decisively.

     When the criminality moves from the street to the boardroom, it makes the refs job, or rather the law's, much more difficult and adds at least fifty shades of grey to normally black and white issues.  Let's not kid ourselves here folks, the more money you have and the closer your ties to the government, the less likely you are to actually see the inside of the sin bin (prison).  Case in point, if you recall the financial world nearly imploding in 2008 due to a number of factors, no one Wall Street banker did time save for Bernie Madoff and I bet he only went down because he ripped off rich people.  The guilty unpunished pulled off a trillion dollar heist.

     Closer to home, but no less serious, our own governments, provincial and federal, seem content to skate outside the rules whenever they see fit.  Mike Duffy and his personal trainer are on trial for illegal procedure, but I'll be very surprised if the justice system hands him a game misconduct or even a minor penalty.  Ontario's grandmotherly premier keeps playing dirty too, first with signing off on the gas plant scandal and most recently in Sudbury, but play has yet to be whistled down.  Brian Mulroney and his paper bag of money.  I could go on, but you're smart enough to get the point.

     While fear of accumulating PIM's is enough to keep most of us from breaking the rules,  a few rich and powerful elites either know they'll never see a call go against them or the refs are choosing to look the other way.  In either case, we need to take a serious look at how the game is played, because as it stands now, we're going to be killing penalties for some time to come.  C'mon ref, are you blind?


Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Gym Class Zeros

"Wouldn't you believe it
It's just my luck,
No recess"

     Contemporary Canadian society appears to be slowly splitting into two groups.  One group religiously watches what they eat,, has all sorts of gadgets to analyze, measure and provide digital bio-feedback about their workouts and they tend to share this info with all using the miracle of the Internet.  The other group, plainly put, is a group of fat slobs who need mechanized assistance in crossing the street and can often be found with a tank of oxygen close at hand.  While both groups have their pros and cons to join, this second group, less advertised and visible than the first, is worrying.  Not from a compassionate, sympathetic view point, but in a rather selfish way.  Gimme a break, I am an entitled self-absorbed Millennial after all.  
     This group of panting behemoths are, and will continue to be, an enormous strain on our socialized healthcare system.  And while I'll gladly reach into my pockets to help pay for a kid's leukaemia treatment or to help the victims of a late night parkour accident, I'm a little hesitant to do the same for a 350lb porker who doesn't have the good sense to pass on the 20th beer and the third helping of McCain's Deep and Delicious.  With the economy the way it is (read: shitty), I suspect I'm not the only one.  All those artificial hips, knee replacements and diabetic socks aren't going to pay for themselves.  Heck, it's already a strain on the system.

     So rather than spend billions trying to help these geriatric bundles of bad decisions stay alive just long enough to scare the grandkids when they come visit at the hospital, let's spend the money revamping Gym Class.  

     Yes, Gym Class.  Phys-Ed.  Along with lunch and grinding up on grade 9 hotties, at the after school dance, it's most hormone filled boys favourite class.  Too bad it's current state is a joke that sees most kids barely break a sweat, with ball room dancing, Capture the Flag and and other manner of bullshittery instead of true sport.
     Let's face it, most kids today can't afford to play competitive sports these days anyway, so why not turn Gym Class from playtime to something you actually have to try at.  Rather than have kids graded on knowing the differences between CFL and NFL rules, why not judge them based on the ability to learn new physical skills.  I can already hear the gasps from the parents of chubby kids saying that isn't fair!  The horror!  Well guess what, it's not fair that a kid can pass a gym class without the ability to run a mile or do 20 push ups either.  Instead of making gym class a session of intellectual masturbation on the rules of doubles badminton, let's encourage actual skill development.  If you had a unit on sprinting, then the fastest kid in the class gets the best mark.  Make passing the class contingent on actually learning a new skill, rather than reading about one.  

     If you have to study and work hard at calculus or chemistry, then why not also in Phys-Ed?  If you suck at physics, you go get extra help and balance a few more equations.  If you suck at gym and using your body, maybe you need to put in some more work there too.   To learn your multiplication tables it takes repetitive practise, same as nailing a baseline 3 pointer.

    Oh, and one more thing.  Make in mandatory throughout grades K-12, so the pudgy little kids who need it the most aren't allowed to skip it, lest their fragile egos be bruised.  No, not everyone will graduate with the manual dexterity of an Olympic calibre gymnast, but it might go a long way towards adding a certain level of shall we say, physicality to society that is sorely lacking.

     There are many types of intelligence and being able to sit in a desk and do long division is but one.  Implement a tougher, more skills based and competitive gym class, and I bet you dollars to gluten-free vegan donuts we end up spending less on health care in the long term./

     If that system proves successful, maybe it will lead to a work place recess program.  Wouldn't that be some fun?