Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Finally, An Update

My apologies for the recent bout of ass-draggery, but chalk it up to the long weekend and that I receive exactly zero dollars for the incoherence in which you read here. That of course means I'm lazy and chose to do other crap than sit in front of my computer and type. So there. Anyway, I do have an announcement of sort pertaining to posting around here. I am going to do my best to establish some posting regularity on the Beast. Ideally, I'll be putting something new up for every Monday, Wednesday and Friday (assuming none of those are involved in a holiday or long weekend). I'm pretty sure I've said this before and you can see how well I stuck to it. Nevertheless, I will make every effort possible to stick to that schedule. Someone please remind of this next week when I go six days between posts.

A couple of thoughts from the long weekend...

I know it's hard to feel sorry for someone who makes or has made millions of dollars, but I couldn't help myself when I watched Andy Roddick in the post-match ceremony of the men's final at Wimbledon. Roddick had just played as well as he could play (other than the last few points of the final game) and still lost to Roger Federer. And you could almost see him, sitting in his chair staring blankly into space, realizing he may never have what it takes to beat Federer. For the record, I hate, I mean HATE, when writers or announcers try to tell you exactly what an athlete is thinking during a game or right as the game ends, so I have no idea if that's what he was thinking. But you couldn't deny seeing the devastation and heartbreak written on his face.

I'll be interested to see how he responds to losing not just this match, but the fashion in which he lost it. Knowing that probably for the rest of his tennis career when it really counts, he simply cannot beat two guys: Federer and Nadal (that is if Nadal ever bounces back from his knee problems, which seem to be strangely glossed over by the tennis media. Haven't his knees been bothering him for several years now? I'd be a little worried since they don't appear to be getting better). That realization had to become pretty clear on Sunday. Personally, I don't think I'd go outside for like three weeks if I had lost on Sunday . But then again, I'm pretty weak-minded and live my competitive mindset vicariously though 18-22 year old college football players. So we see who has the real problem.

I hope that poor bastard gets over it.

Finally, switching gears to a much sadder story, the Steve McNair murder. I don't feel the need to either pile on the morality or speculative train like seemingly everyone else in the free world, so I'll not be offering the same opinion you've heard since the details starting coming out on Saturday and Sunday. I did however want to try to explain why this bothered me, and potentially those also from Mississippi, more than I thought it would. Of course, since I'm so selfish, it only bothered me in a way that directly affected me. I suppose I should be more upset that a wife no longer has a husband or that four kids no longer have a dad, but forgive me for my selfishness.

When you grow up in Mississippi (I spent the first 25 years of my life there), you put up with people outside the state constantly taking a big, fat dump on it. People in entertainment and media, those state ranking reports that regularly have Mississippi at the bottom and even just people you meet are always there to let you know what the rest of the country and world thinks of your state. Certainly a great deal of it is deserved as Mississippi has more problems than I care to list in the space here. But what all these people and reports rarely acknowledge is that, although the state is troubled, it has some pretty great parts and people to it. And Mississippians take great pride in those people and places because they, the people and places, create rare moments of positive attention for the state.

I don't know Steve McNair. Other than what other people say about him, I have no idea what he was like outside the game of football. But I can tell you he was great for Mississippi. He, along with other athletes like Walter Payton, Jerry Rice, Archie Manning and, yes, even Brett Favre (as you know, I'm not a fan, but he is most certainly good for the state), was someone all Mississippians could point to and say, "Look, here's something special from Mississippi." Not to be overly dramatic (although it may be too late for that now), but it was almost as if the guys mentioned above, and there are plenty of non-athletes too, represented each resident of the state as they performed in their respective professions. And we, even though we didn't know or will ever know these guys personally, always had a sense of pride whenever they succeeded because it felt like we were a part of something special.

To me, that kind of a close relationships, even though it's a one-way relationship, is normally found between fans of a team and its players. But it's pretty amazing when it happens between an entire state and its more famous native sons who aren't a part of a singular team. And I think that relationship developed in Mississippi because of the closeness of the state, both geographically and socially, and what we, as Mississippians, have all put up with our entire lives, which gives us a common bond. It's sort of like (and I'm stealing the following illustration from someone, but I can't remember who said this. My apologies to that person.) when you go through a tough experience with people you don't know, like a really hard class in college. The experience of making it through the class brings you together and you're forever connected to those people. And even though you don't really know them, you could run into them later in college and always talk about how tough that class was. That's what Mississippians have with each other. We all share, no matter who we are, what it's like to grow up in a connected place like Mississippi.

Mississippi is not a particularly big state in terms of area (31st in the U.S.) and its population is just under three million (32nd in the U.S.). If you were to name a town in the state, my guess is that you could come up with someone who lived or had lived there, and if not, you could use that degrees of separation game and have someone named within two degrees of you. So, for instance, when the story of McNair's death broke on Saturday, you, in just three phone calls, could have been talking to a friend of a friend of a friend who lived in Mount Olive and asked them for their reaction to the news. It's an extremely loose, yet tight-knit place (if that makes any sense). That's why when I found out about McNair's death I felt like we had just lost "one of us." Steve McNair and the rest of Mississippi could relate to one another because we were all raised in the same state, even though all of our upbringings were different. And it sucks to have lost one of us, especially one who was so great for and to Mississippi.

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