The Watchtower of Destruction: The Ferrett's Journal - May 6th, 2006

May 6th, 2006

May 6th, 2006
09:04 am

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Apparently, I Have An Opinion On Sports - Who Knew?
I woke to a story on NPR about wheelchair racing. Apparently, many handicapped people want to compete in 100-yard dashes, using their mad wheelchair skillz to try to beat other people's leg-powered efforts. If they scoot across the finish line first, these people say, they should be given the trophy.

The reporter told us of the resistance the handicapped folks had encountered in trying to change he rules. There were two basic theories floated about, and of course the first one that was implied was that people are uncomfortable with handicapped people, and this was merely another sign of discrimination. The secondary theory was that sports fans were old and stodgy and didn't like change; heck, said one guy, people are still bitching about the Designated Hitter rule in baseball, so why would they adopt this new and exciting idea?

Though one interviewee stated it, the report didn't explore the third concept outright: The mechanics don't sync up.

I'm not opposed to putting the handicapped in whatever sport they want to be in, but the goals can't change. The idea of a competition sport is that we're supposed to see who can win on a level playing field, negating all of the potential advantages and disadvantages to see who has the most raw skill in whatever sport we're playing. This is why most sports have regulated equipment and playing fields - if someone wins at a 100-meter hurdle that had hurdles that were two inches shorter, does that mean that the winner's a better hurdler or that the hurdles were easier to get over? The whole idea is to level the field so we can say with surety who was the best, no matter where or how the race was held.

The idea of a running race is that people compete to see who can run the fastest, not who can wheel the fastest; they're two separate sets of skills. Even if the handicapped guy wins - which is more likely than you'd think - then we still don't know who was better, because we're comparing apples and oranges. If anything, I'd argue the handicapped guy was way more of an athlete than the runners, because getting a wheelchair to go ten miles an hour is (by the accounts I've heard) far tougher than just running at ten miles an hour. But that's not running, and thus it's not a fair comparison, so I'm against mixing them.

The handicapped folks were arguing that they can be competitive, but that's not the point. (And, I note with cynical detachment, that they're not attempting to compete in bike races, where they'd get trounced every time.) The point is that it's not the same thing, and the win would tell us nothing of value aside from "Boy, that handicapped guy went fast!"

I don't mind wheelchair racing, and if I were into sports I'd be watching the Paralympic Games like nobody's business. I don't have a problem with handicapped people competing in marathons or long races, since in those the goal is mainly to just get to the end - and heck, if a handicapped guy took first at the Boston Marathon, I'd cheer. And if we could find a way for a handicapped guy to compete in baseball or football without getting outplayed by the able-bodied (or whatever the heck it is I'm supposed to call people who aren't handicapped), I'd cheer for the guy or girl (even as Gini notes that the strike zone of a guy sitting in a wheelchair would guarantee endless walks). (EDIT: And I'm totally down with the idea of disabled folks racing alongside of non-disabled runners so they don't feel left out.)

As it is, I don't even know what the Designated Hitter rule is, and I don't really care. But I'm against putting handicapped folks into running sports for reasons that I didn't hear mentioned: I just want as even a measuring stick as you can get, and wheels vs. feet are just not the same thing.

You may now begin calling me a horrible person.

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(154 shouts of denial | Tell me I'm full of it)

TimeEvent
09:34 am

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Linkspam Before I Hit The Tub
I completely love Four-Second Fury.

One of the best comments ever left in my journal: The Alignments of Fire Alarms.

And since I've been meaning to pimp it for awhile, one of my favorite new comics is The New Adventures of Queen Victoria, which has really grown on me. It's a strangely assured comic, which sounds weird, but most comics I read have this odd feeling of hesitation to them, as if the author had spent a lot of time choosing the right words. Whereas this feels organic and just funny, and it doesn't rely on you thinking that "Hoo hah, mocking Queen Victoria is amusing by itself!" (Though it does require some familiarity with history.)

As an added home-town bonus, it's actually an LJ: tnaoqv .

(13 shouts of denial | Tell me I'm full of it)

TimeEvent
02:41 pm

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AY KWEEM!

Gini and I were discussing bikes in her room when we heard the faint tones of a cell phone coming from… Somewhere.

“That’s not mine,” Gini said.

“Nor mine,” I replied.

We listened harder, and eventually made out the faint, tinny strains of “The Entertainer,” an electronic ragtime drifting in through our window. We grinned, electrified.

“ICE CREAM MAN!” we shouted, running out of the house.

“Do you have your wallet?” Gini asked.

“Yes!” I cried.

“Do you have cash?”

“Yes!” I cried again. The parking lot I’d been in the other day hadn’t taken credit cards, so I’d been ripped off at an ATM that had charged me $3.00 to get a twenty-dollar bill, but that was okay because God wanted me to have ice cream truck ice cream today.

We raced outside, breathless…

…only to see the white bumper of the truck about five houses down, almost around the corner, too distant to flag down. There were no kids, and it was nearly too far to catch. But I could have.

See, in the olden days before I began exercising, that distance would have knackered me. I would have gotten two houses down and been out of breath, and even if I had caught up with the truck I would have been too exhausted to order.

But now, I was reasonably fit. The ice cream truck was moving now, it had just edged past another house and was angling ‘round the bend for the corner, but I could have launched myself out in a flat-out run for the truck, pounding the pavement at full speed as I ate up the sidewalk to catch up with it, slap the window, and snag myself a Chocolate Éclair Bar fresh from the freezer, only a little out of breath.

My feet, however, refused to move. And I knew why.

When a twelve-year-old does it, it’s cute. But when a thirty-seven-year old balding man launches himself at an ice cream truck, screaming, “ICE CREAM! WAIT! ICE CREAM!” with unabashed happiness and flailing arms in an attempt to grab the driver’s attention, it looks, well….

“It would have looked a little retarded,” Gini said, and there was no other word to describe it. I would have, quite literally, looked like I had just escaped from the special ed class, and the ice cream truck driver would have wondered what sort of brain malady I suffered from as I happily handed over my wadded-up dollar bills.

I’m not a kid any more. But I feel like one. I just can’t act like one, or people will wonder what the hell is wrong with me.

There are battles I’m willing to fight to keep my youth; I’ll play with water pistols, and I’ll read comics, and I’ll laugh out loud in public. But becoming the Big Kid With Downs’ Syndrome to get an ice cream cone is not a situation I want to endure (at least not in my neighborhood). And so I sit here, sans ice cream, hoping to God he comes around again before I leave.

(74 shouts of denial | Tell me I'm full of it)

TimeEvent
08:38 pm

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Guinness Gone Wrong
Wow. That really sucks.

(69 shouts of denial | Tell me I'm full of it)

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