What is going on in the world besides everything all at once, full throttle, from Japan to Missouri to Tibet to New Zealand to Alaska to Dallas to Argentina to Nicaragua to Bethesda? Why is so much change spread across the universe non-stop? Can we just keep things the way they were for five seconds? Will life ever slow down?
Upheaval makes it hard for me to make sense of things. Once I grasp something, it changes into something else I have to untangle, which takes mental work, which is tiring after a while. All this nails me to a chair squatting and typing because this is my way of coping, sorting it all out, stopping time, or at least trying too often without feeling I’ve figured anything out completely or even a little bit.
Speaking of change, have you noticed NBA games are being played on wildly colored courts like you’ve never seen? Psychedelic hoops in November. A Crayola 64-pack of hoops eye candy. This is when no one watches the NBA. It’s some “in-season” tournament involving all NBA teams.
What do you win? Lollipops? A pair of high-black Chuck Taylors? A Waffle House gift certificate? They’re not playing for the Larry O’Brien Trophy. That’s given out in June – and that will be hoisted again by Nikola Jokic. That will matter because he’s a basketball savant just like Tony Gwynn was hitting a baseball; this color-coded attention grab doesn’t save anyone. Why should anyone watch an NBA game now?
I applaud the marketing attempt, but there’s nothing at stake except something called the NBA Cup. What’s that? A cup of Joe? How do you win it? Who cares? I don’t even want to know the rules nor how this stunt is set up because you know and I know and the marketers know and the players know it doesn’t matter. Not now. These are not the real NBA playoffs being contended for the real NBA championship trophy. This looks like a bald-headed marketing ploy because it is. Will I pay to go see NBA players in some in-season tourney in November that doesn’t involve Jokic proving everybody wrong by winning the real NBA title in June?
You know the answer.
There’s no drama in this. Real heartbreak is when I tune in, when LeBron loses, and Steph fires in threes when Draymond gets ejected and Joker dominates everybody and is the centerpiece of Denver’s downtown title parade and basketball kingdom basketball.
A publicity stunt this is.
Which got me talking with a friend tonight about renowned publicity stunts in sports history. Remember in 1979 when the Chicago White Sox couldn’t sell tickets to the games (still can’t) so owner Bill Veeck agreed to have a radio guy who abhorred disco music come in between a doubleheader and burn a bunch of disco records? The place sold out. Rioters stormed the field and stole bases. Woodstock on a baseball field; only thing missing was Jimmy Hendrix crucifying his guitar. An attempt to shake things up gone awry. Memorable but not honorable.
Then as now, it feels like there’s non-stop pressure to change, rattle cages, uproot serenity, kick away calm. You see this in college football where everything about the sport is being completely upended by the transfer portal. What a clustermess. Every year players can take money from the highest bidder and play for them. It feels like a rock concert turned into a free-for-all raid on the ice cream trucks while the cops unleash tear gas to get everybody to leave. What’s next? In season transfer portals an Alabama lineman tells Saban, “Hey coach I can play for another team this weekend for a million dollars to help them win because Bama is playing a creamsicle this weekend, but I’ll be back next Monday?”
What’s going on? Stop pell-mell craziness. Halt change. You, change, cool down. It’s making me feel like I’m jogging after a car going 100 miles an hour; it’s my ride home and it’s dark and I just want to go to bed but the car keeps accelerating, whizzing past me all night long without stopping, sending me back to Starbucks to think all this through without much of a plan of action that feels robust and coherent. Feels more like thrashing about, grasping at air.
Big changes lurk and loom everywhere. You can feel it every day. Generative artificial intelligence, according to everybody, is going to be a bigger change than the Internet has been. This raging technological tidal wave is forming simultaneously in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, as well as the Black Sea and the Sea of Japan, and it’s about to crash on all of us. Do we have a raft? Will we need one? Are we adrift? Can we run out of the ocean before it hits? Are there any funnel cakes left? Will that do us any good? Or should we dive into the wave and hope we come out safe on the other side? Sounds risky. Precariousness prevails.
This is our destiny: change everywhere all the time in technology, NBA, college football, and among NFL players: Zach Wilson, Mac Jones, and Dan Jones – all falling out of the league or close to being traded or hurt. No stability, uncertainty spreading, and lives being disrupted. All the time. Coaches getting fired every day as if it’s no more unusual than waking up in the morning. Sell your house. Good luck finding work elsewhere. Relocate. Pack your bags. Move. Just move.
Babies’ diapers are getting changed. Kids are changing skills. College students are changing majors. Adults are changing careers. Older adults are having their diapers changed.
Life in November 2023.
Slow down, world. Relax. Take a few weeks off. Be stagnant for a while. Stop spinning so fast. Why are you always in such a hurry, world? What’s the rush? Why so much full-throttle change?
Can’t you just read a blog and be quiet? Can’t you be thankful without having to keep moving?
Put your feet up. Watch some football. Dine with friends and family.
Pause at least for one day. To be thankful.
Happy Thanksgiving, world. You need a break.