Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hey Bill Maher - F* You

To say I've never been a fan of Bill Maher is a gross understatement. I've always found him self-righteous, smug and pompous. And that has very little to do with my, for the most part, disagreeing with his political opinions. But I've always found it best to just ignore people I find irritating.

That is until you piss me off. And Maher did just that when he degraded the city of Boston.

On his show "Real Time with Bill Maher," he basically criticized the Red Sox and the city of Boston for stopping at the marathon finish line and placing the World Series Trophy on it, along with a "617" Sox jersey (Boston's area code for those who don't know).

"So the parade, they go to the place where the marathon bombing took place, they put the World Series statue there and they sing 'God Bless America' and they say 'Boston strong' and they chant 'U-S-A,' you know. It was again, a bad day, three people died, that's terrible. More were maimed, that's horrible, but unfortunately that happens every day, in car accidents and everything else. I mean, your city was not leveled by Godzilla," he said

Yes, Bill. Every day three people die in car accidents. But you know what? Those are accidents, not acts of terror - big difference.

I think there are those who share his opinion, those who aren't from Boston who think that maybe we're "going overboard on Boston Strong." But they don't get it. This is how we are - we're loud, brash and we unapologetically support all things Boston. So when tragedy hits us at home, you can bet your ass we're going to band together and be as loud as we can. You know why? Because f* those guys who terrorized our city. They didn't break us - they brought us closer together than ever before. They made us stronger and prouder than ever to be from Boston. And we want them to know it.

Maher is known for shooting his mouth at inappropriate times. About a week after the most deadly terrorist attack on U.S. soil, Maher, a native New Yorker, sat down with a panel on his show, "Politically Incorrect" and said this about the men who flew the planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 9/11 :

“We have been the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That’s cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it’s not cowardly.”

You don't agree with drones, Bill? OK, many people don't. But there is a time and place, and that was the wrong time. The mastermind behind 9/11? He was basically "lobbing" those planes from 7,000 miles away. And being willing to die doesn't mean you aren't a coward.

Those comments lost Maher his show - and rightfully so. Because that isn't what the people of New York, Washington D.C. and the rest of the U.S. needed to hear so soon after such a tragedy. "Politically Incorrect" is a gross understatement when describing his post-9/11 comments.

Not an attack of the same magnitude, death-toll wise, but a terrorist attack nonetheless, Maher's comments regarding the way the city of Boston celebrated were insensitive, rude and, frankly, offensive.

"We needed this," Mark Porcaro, of Boston, told The Associated Press after the Sox clinched the Series. "They were an easy team to get behind because they stood up for us when we needed them most."

That's how every Bostonian felt. So Bill Maher - f* you.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Can we please stop using the term “Warrior” when referring to football players?

I had the honor of working for the United States Army for seven years. I know true warriors; I watched men and women leave their families for 12-18 months at a time, to go to far off lands to fight and protect. 

And, I have been with families as they buried their warriors.

How many time have we hear coaches, players and analysts talk about football players’ “warrior mentality?” Sure, they're tough guys on the field, but they are also pampered and fawned over off the field. These athletes live in the lap of luxury, while our real warriors – our military – live in small on-base houses with sometimes barely enough money to adequately care for their families. I know soldiers who have deployed three, four, five times, whose families are on WIC because their salaries aren’t enough to sufficiently feed their family. Yet, the football players are the heroes.

Simply, one cannot compare the "warrior mentality" of a football player to a soldier because there is no comparison.

Our soldiers willingly put their lives on the line to protect our ideals and our freedom. Football players put their bodies on the line for a game. Both are mentally and physically grueling; but one does it for honor and duty; the other does it for fun and money.

Basic pay for a soldier averages somewhere around $40,000 a year. Basic pay for an Army private is just under $18,000, while a general (of which there are very few) makes into the low six figures. In the NFL, league minimum for a rookie is $405,000 a year, while the minimum for a player with 10 years’ experience is right around $1 million. That is the minimum – the average salary of an NFL quarterback is $3.4 million, the average for a wide receiver and linebacker is $1.8 million, and kickers and punters average $1.6 million – KICKERS AND PUNTERS!

Now, go up to a soldier, who has been away from his family for five of the last ten years, and seen his buddies killed and maimed, that the millionaire is a warrior. 

I know soldiers’ wives who gave birth to their children alone, and had to go through those first sleepless months by themselves; fathers and mothers who had to leave their babies, and come home to children who don’t even remember them; I have seen the pain on the faces of families whose warriors are never coming home.

I have watched planes full of soldiers take off to Iraq and Afghanistan, knowing that not everyone on that flight will come home. I have watched the families of deployed soldiers struggle to make it through everyday life while the most important person in their lives is living in a dangerous place, where people want them dead. I have also been lucky enough to witness the joy of families reunited, of fathers seeing their baby – who could be nine months old – for the first time.

These men and women are warriors. They put their duty and their country before all else. They put their lives in danger so that we don't have to. They are willing to die to protect our freedom. 

Football players are talented, physically-gifted freaks who are paid incredibly well because they are part of a product that produces billions of dollars in revenue each year. But they are not warriors.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Guest blog: The Argument for the 'Bandwagon Fan'

This week we have a special guest blog. My good friend Susan wants to weigh in on her opinion about the so-called "Bandwagon fan." She makes some good, really solid points. Let's not throw around the phrase "Bandwagon fan" so freely in the future, mmmm kay?

The Argument for the 'Bandwagon Fan'

Last night was the first time I witnessed the Boston Red Sox win the World Series. In 2004, I was backpacking around France and in 2007, I watched the entire series only to get really sick on the last night and fall asleep due to an overdose of cold meds.

Finally 2013 was the year I got to witness the magic firsthand. When that last out was made, I was excited and proud, not just for the players, but for the entire city of Boston. After posting a photo of a me and a few of my friends in our Red Sox hats, the “bandwagon fan” comments started. Not just on my page, but in general; the Facebook newsfeed was littered with comments from both Boston fans and non-Boston fans alike, hating on the so-called  “bandwagon fans.”

A bandwagon fan by definition is anyone who claims they are a "fan" of a particular sports team, even though they had no prior support for/interest in the team until that team started winning.  By this definition, I don’t qualify.  I grew up 20 miles outside Boston and was raised as a Red Sox fan; my dad did field maintenance at Fenway Park when I was a kid; I went to my first game when I was in sixth grade; I’ve celebrated birthday’s in those stands, and some of my favorite college memories involve the Red Sox.

I will admit, like many of you, I don’t watch every game, in fact I rarely tune in for a regular season game. I love going to the ball park, but don’t find regular season play to be all that exciting on TV. Playoff baseball is different. There’s passion behind it that doesn’t shine through in quite the same way on warm day in July that it does on a cool night in October. The players are different and the fans are different – because it’s finally so close we can taste it, and we want to be part of the magic. 

I often wonder how full Fenway Park would be if you were only allowed to come in if you had watched every game that season? For most of us, a trip to Fenway is a once-, maybe twice-a-year treat. On any given night, the park is made up of people that the hardcore fans would consider “bandwagon fans,” but really we’re just regular folks who feel connected to a team and want to support them when we can, and however we can – even if that only means catching a handful of games a year.

We need to remember so-called "bandwagon fans" contribute to revenue - they buy hats, tickets, and beers at the stadium. That revenue helps the team continue to scout top players and invest in and develop young talent. The bandwagon or fair-weather fans play a role in the success of the Red Sox, or any team for that matter, whether the hardcore fans like it or not.

On April 15, 2013, the Red Sox played their annual Boston Marathon day game. No one could have predicted the horror that would happen that day, but what could be predicted was how the Red Sox reacted.  They carried the Boston Strong message and spirit with them throughout the season, honoring those who lost their lives or were injured at the marathon finish line, and giving strength to a city that already was one of the strongest in the world.

Last night when the Boston Red Sox won the World Series, they weren’t "Red Sox Strong;" they were Boston Strong, and whether you watched every game all season, or if you only tuned in for the last 10 minutes of the game, if you’re from Boston, you’re a fan - and no one should be able to take that away from you.

Susan, right, and two other Red Sox supporters living in Washington D.C.,
the night the Red Sox won the 2013 World Series.