Monday Morning Meanderings…

The sport of tennis is losing another of its great players; Roger Federer announced last week that he is retiring from competitive tennis.  I am not going to pretend to know enough about tennis and about Federer’s game to make any sort of pronouncements here.  What I know is that when I watched him play in major tournaments, I liked to watch him play.  Part of my enjoyment came from his obvious skill; another important part came from the fact that he played the game without histrionics.  I never got the impression that he was doing anything out there simply to draw attention to himself; he seemed to play the game just because it was a game he liked to play, and he played it really well.

I have no idea if any of the young players coming up in the world of professional tennis has a similar demeanor and similar on-court poise as Roger Federer had; it would be very good for the sport itself if that were the case.

Moving on …  For months now, there has been an annoying buzz in the background regarding the involvement of Brett Favre in a scheme to divert funds intended for poor folks in Mississippi to the construction of a volleyball facility at Southern Mississippi where Favre went to school and where his daughter was a member of the volleyball team.  Favre was evidently given a million dollars for some sort of appearances he was supposed to make but never did and he returned that money when this investigation uncovered such activity.  At that point, I shrugged my shoulders, and my interest level was pretty low.  I am no longer shocked to learn that public funds are not always spent on things that are in the public interest nor on things that were intended by the legislators who appropriated those funds.  Early on in this story, I figured that Favre was simply lending his name and his fame to an enterprise he thought was above board but that various misdeeds were being manipulated by others.

Last week this story took a turn toward the sordid.  According to a report from NBC:

“Newly released text messages from NFL Hall of Famer Brett Favre show he was much more involved than previously known in pushing for millions of federal welfare dollars to be diverted from helping poor families to instead pay for a new volleyball facility at the school where his daughter played the sport.

“The messages, released in a court filing this week, also reveal that Favre sought reassurances from a nonprofit executive that the public would never learn he was seeking millions of dollars in grants that ultimately came from the Mississippi welfare agency.”

My reaction to the original story was that it was a “terrible optic”, but that Favre was not in on the scam.  Now, I have to wonder if maybe this is a case of much more than a “terrible optic”.  Evidently, the set of events involving Favre is only a minor part of the investigation going on related to misappropriated funds.  The FBI is involved and already the State of Mississippi has filed civil suits against 38 people related to $78M of welfare funds that were not delivered to welfare recipients.  Moreover, the investigation now also involves the former Governor of Mississippi, Phil Bryant.  What a mess…

The final item this morning will assuredly shore up my “curmudgeon cred”…  There seems to be an insatiable need for folks to engage in virtue-signaling.  Often, such signaling occurs around happenings that are symbolic at best and/or are transparently nonsense.  In other cases, the individuals or institutions that succumb to virtue-signaling have done something positive; but cannot just let that positive contributions/accomplishment stand alone and be recognized for what it is – – a positive accomplishment.

That latter situation seems to have taken center stage at Clemson University recently.  The Clemson Athletic Department “partnered with” – – Lord, I hate that phrase; “partner” is a noun and not a verb – – an organization, KultureCity and is now:

“ … the first collegiate program in the nation to be sensory-certified in all venues, ensuring all the programs and events that those venues host are sensory-inclusive.”

I was not clear on what it meant for a venue to be “sensory inclusive” and how one achieved such a status, so I read on in a public statement released by the university.  Here is what I learned:

“Clemson will ‘promote an accommodating and positive experience for all guests and fans with a sensory issue that visits athletic events at Clemson University.’

“Memorial Stadium, Historic Riggs Field, Littlejohn Coliseum, Jervey Gym, Doug Kingsmore Stadium, and McWhorter Stadium will all carry the certification and will have available sensory bags with noise-canceling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards, strobe-reduction glasses and weighted lap pads at guest services stands for guests attending events in Clemson athletic venues.”

I have no problem with Clemson or any other school or professional team working to make their events positive experiences for a wide range of fans.  Somehow, this one seems to me to be a minor wrinkle in the overall athletic fabric; but if there are ways to accommodate a solution here, then kudos to folks who implement such accommodations.  But seriously:

  • Is a formal public statement necessary?
  • Was there any organized or staunch opposition to doing any of this?
  • Is this on a par with desegregating the water fountains in those venues?
  • If the answer to the three queries above is “No”, then why do you give in to the temptation to virtue-signal?  Go and “partner with” Nike and “Just Do It.”

I wonder what the next “Inclusivity Initiative” might be.  Perhaps they can make all their venues “Incontinence-Inclusive”.  Why not?  There is a segment of society out there who cannot enjoy a sporting event without potential significant personal embarrassment; should we not work to include them too?

Finally, let me close today with a statement about the concessions at athletic venues from Scott Ostler of the SF Chronicle:

“If there are five or more people in line at a beer stand, everyone in line gets free beer. Hire more damn vendors. If we want to stand in line, we’ll go to Disneyland or the DMV.”

Hear!  Hear!!!  Shouldn’t we also be inclusive for the thirst-impaired fans…?

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………