Posts Tagged ‘Bill Holman’

I watched a guy die today.  (more…)


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A few Sundays ago, 400 teams gathered in Las Vegas to compete for a $50,000 prize in the fourth annual World Series of Beer Pong. Fifty thousand Washingtons. In case you missed that, it’s FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS to the team that best displays perseverance in the face of severe intoxication. If this isn’t a firm indicator that the proliferation of “sports” has gotten out of control in this country, I don’t know what is.

Still, there is much that can be learned about the workings of the world by following sports. Not just by watching, but by truly following a sport, one becomes aware of each league’s individual microcosm. This can be a telling barometer of society, from economics to race relations.

Take race. The Rooney Rule requires that, when a NFL head coaching job is available, at least one minority coach be interviewed. An easy argument could be made that the proliferation of black head coaches in the league helped the public (or at least the football-watching public, which is substantial) become more accustomed to the notion of a black man as a leader, someone to be admired and respected — paving the way for an historic election.

On a more local scale, the Steelers owners — after which the Rooney Rule was named — walked the proverbial walk, hiring Mike Tomlin as the teams third head coach in 35 years. Historically, Pittsburgh lives and dies by its football team (there is a palpable malaise over this city the day after a loss), and it seems no coincidence that this follows monumental developments in Pittsburgh’s prominent black communities, most notably the idyllic new developments in the Hill District. I’m certain August Wilson would have approved, and I likewise hope this cyclical situation continues as Pittsburgh’s forgotten neighborhoods begin to step into their rightful place.

Baseball is an illustration of a dysfunctional economic system, where the team with the most money can simply assert itself by throwing cash at the best players, leaving the poorer teams languishing every year. Or, on a smaller scale, one could look at the Pirates themselves as an example of a broken economic system, where the team retains the money (presumably to purchase additional yachts for the owners), rather than reinvesting in good players, which would make a better team, which would put more people in the seats, which would…you get the idea. It’s no surprise the largest gap in the Major Leagues, between money made and money paid to players (i.e., profit), is the ol’ Buccos, and we find ourselves in the basement every year. Same goes for the country, where there is a huge and ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor, owners and workers. The system has broken down, and it seems GM and Ford are never going get into the playoffs again.

Executive bonus, anyone?

It seems, however, that the country is set to recover by following the economic example of the most successful and profitable sport in America: Football. American style.

Having realized the truth of “united we stand,” the league has organized itself so that even the small-market teams stand a shot of making it all the way to the top. Following the adage “all men are created equal,” a salary cap prevents owners from simply buying the best team, and revenue sharing ensures that every team is able to keep its head above water. They seem to have realized that if any one team fails, it hurts the entire system. Some may succeed more than others, and some may have years of history behind them. But all are in the same league, playing the same game, and the success of all is essential to the long-term success of any an each.

I think America — and Pittsburgh — can make the playoffs again. Hell, in a few years we might be set for a dynasty run. But we’re going to have a few rebuilding years. We’ll have to draft strong, develop our young players and reinvest in our core, just like the Steelers. Like the Penguins, players will have to accede to making less so better players can be hired to play alongside them.

And we should do the opposite of anything the Pirates do.

Bill Holman

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Sitting on the banks of a stream, I reached down to brush a fleck of dirt off of my ankle. And it stayed. I tried again, and while it moved some this time, it immediately fell back into place. The clouds shifted, and in the bright June light I saw that, attached to my leg, was a tick.

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There is no place 
this side of life 
where dust more rapidly accumulates than in the bachelor’s apartment.  

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I have a special spot for camping: at a popular campsite, but down in a valley and far from the common rabble. Here, a stream flows by a small chunk of roots and earth raised from the water. Here the light filters through the canopy of trees to wake campers gently for a late morning breakfast, and the dusk of supper time comes early. Here, stones from the stream make up the fire pit that is my oven, and the adjacent table that is my counter. Here, in the woods, the food always tastes good — like survival — and the cleanup is instant. Here I have made my kitchen for campfire cuisine.

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Holman inspects the damage to his skull

There’s always that initial realization when you’re falling — nothing is going to stop you, and it is going to hurt. You find yourself suspended in the air, time giving your brain a chance to exclaim “Oh, fuck!” and maybe, if you’re really lucky, make a decision.
Or maybe you just fall.



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