Banks County Opinions...

May 23, 2001

By Todd Simons
The Banks County News
May 23, 2001

Eating glass is cool, but I don't think it's a sport
I had never been to a rodeo, but when I was a kid I did try to ride my dog's back, hoping it would suddenly buck my weight high into the air and I'd grab the hair on the back of its neck just to hang on.
I've watched rodeos on television and vicariously risked life and limb, and I guess that is what the rodeo is about: romanticized risk. The most romantic of all the events at a rodeo is the bull riding. Like most things romantic, on some level it appears crazy.
The event begs for the sportswriter's often-asked question, the question that justifies our jobs. What is a sport? Is rodeo any more a sport than wrestling is? Is it as much of a sport as what Evel Knievel did? If sport simply requires athletic ability, then aren't the guys who do underwater welding participating in a sport? If it is that you work really hard and risk your life, then aren't those Kentucky coal miners the greatest of athletes?
If rodeo cowboys wore less earth tones and more fuchsia they would be on the X-games. The X-games are a display of the genius of Disney, which owns ESPN, which took activities that are risky and take athleticism and made them into sports by having people judge them and giving names to moves. But a man that can ride a bull is much more worthy of my admiration than a kid doing an inverted tirly-wode on the half pipe.
As far as admiration goes, I also think more highly of the bull rider, the bulldogging cowboy or the bronco buster than I do Evel Knievel jumping over buses or canyons. Something about the exploits of engines seems contrived.
For that matter, is drag racing a sport? Isn't drag racing more about mastering engineering skills? Won't the best mechanic win out over the best driver? I know little about drag racing, I'll admit (I'm sure my drag racing education is a future column), but as far as I can tell one has an instant of athleticism in drag racing. When the amber light goes off and the green light goes on, you must send a signal from eye to brain to foot and that is eye-hand coordination and that is athleticism. After that the driver holds on and points straight.
The same for Evel Knievel. Guts can win poker games and street fights, but there is a certain skill needed to hit a curve ball and just having the guts to stand in there and let it break isn't enough to get the ball out of the infield. Having the guts to stand in front of a 280-pound linebacker won't keep him off the quarterback.
Cheerleading is an often-argued example. Cheerleading used to be what girls did before it was ladylike to participate in sports. Now girls play fast-pitch softball and field hockey. Girls aren't restricted to acting ladylike any more. The Victorian ideas of grace are gone, or at least going. We walk in between in many ways, but discussion of cultural norms and their influence on athletics can't be reasonably taken on here.
The point is that sport is entertainment. Sport is an athletic endeavor. Sport is something that takes determination to be good. Everything I have mentioned above, therefore, is a sport.
Is bowling entertaining? Like golf, it is entertaining to watch somebody be good at something that you have tried to be good at. More than half of the males in America at one time thought "I can be a good basketball player. I'm going to run and shoot and work on my dribbling." Now that is long forgotten and we watch Allen Iverson, who is actually shorter than me, and think, "Could I have run enough, shot enough, dribbled enough to be that good?"
Probably not. But I was the best damn Weimaraner rider in Georgia for that one summer in 1984. I grabbed her neck and slapped her rear and she just sat down and rolled over until I fell off and then she jumped her front paws on my chest and licked my face and jumped back thinking that what I wanted to do was chase her. So I chased her and wrestled her to the ground and tried to hold her feet in the air like I had seen cowboys do.
I'm from Texas. I knew what cowboys did. I never owned a horse or rode a bull, but there was a time when I thought that someday I might be good at that.
We appreciate sports because we have tried them. We envy athletes who have accomplished something we wish we could have done. If we have never tried it or never taken a close look at the skills needed, then it is impossible to appreciate any activity. Appreciation makes sport. If you don't appreciate what athletes are doing, then baseball players are just throwing balls at each other and NASCAR is about a bunch of people driving in circles.

By Phillip Sartain
The Banks County News
May 23, 2001

Jiggle Theory
We live in an old house. It does have indoor plumbing, but it's old indoor plumbing. And because of that, we have a problem with running toilets. In other words, our running toilets are running me to death.
Fortunately, I've learned a thing or two about how to make the water stop running. I guess you could say that I've been potty trained. Or put more politely, I know a little something about Jiggle Theory.
Most people have experimented with the concept of Jiggle Theory. After all, it doesn't take an engineering degree, only a little wrist action on the toilet handle every so often.
But therein lies the problem. In the first place, trial and error handle jiggling rarely works. In the second place, jiggling is not a spectator sport. It's not like you can invite someone along to watch and see if you're jiggling correctly once you've finished your business.
Ultimately, in order to jiggle well, you have to know your toilet. For instance, does it respond to a light tapping jiggle, or does it require a more forceful and vigorous jiggle? And once you begin to jiggle, how do you know when to stop? To make matters worse, there is the delicate timing issue, the false alarm jiggle, and the ongoing debate over the effects of repetitive jiggling.
Most, if not all, of these issues require at least a passing acquaintance with Advanced Jiggle Theory. You don't pick up that kind of knowledge with just a few trips to the bathroom. At the very least, you have to be a heavy coffee drinker.
Beyond Advanced Jiggle Theory, you get into some pretty murky waters. I'm talking about actually taking the top off the toilet and peering into the depths of Flush Physics. Unfortunately, the dynamics of flushing are completely lost on the vast majority of people.
And that includes my whole family. For years now, I have shouldered the burden of chasing down the source of the running water in our house and applying the appropriate jiggle technique.
Then one day it occurred to me that maybe my daughters could learn the basics of Jiggle Theory. That way, I could get a bit of a breather, and if something happened to me, my wife wouldn't have to file for bankruptcy because she couldn't keep the water bill paid.
Rather than get bogged down in theory, I opted for a hands-on demonstration. "Look ladies, and behold the inner workings of the toilet."
My daughters ooohed and aaahed. But before I could get started, my youngest interrupted. "Daddy, I want something to drink." Thirsting for knowledge, I hoped, as I went downstairs to the kitchen.
"Here you go," I said, handing her a cup. Just as I began explaining how the parts work and how to make them stop working, my middle child said she was thirsty, too. To save time, I brought back drinks for everyone.
"Look," I began again, pointing to the floating bulb, "here's how it works." Just at that moment, Susanna spilled her drink and began to cry, so I ran back downstairs for a paper towel and a refill.
When I got back upstairs, Susanna had cleaned up her spill with an entire roll of toilet paper and the toilet was so clogged up that I had to digress into a demonstration of Plunger Technology.
By the time I finished plunging, the other girls were complaining that Suzie got more to drink than they did. "Okay. I'm going to get you both a refill. And then we're going to talk toilets," I said sternly.
When I finally huffed my way back up to the bathroom, Susanna was sitting on the toilet. "Daddy, I have to pee-pee," she smiled. In the meantime, the other two were seeing how fast they could dip water out of the tank with their hands and splash it on each other.
That's when I realized that the Chaos Theory of Children outweighs the importance of teaching Jiggle Theory. And when that happens, you move into the Abandonment Theory of Parenthood.
I just hope the bankruptcy hearing doesn't take too long. I hate having to use the bathroom in the middle of something important.


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Homer, Georgia
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