I believe it was around the middle of June, Salt Lake City, was in a brutal heat wave, everyday seemed to clear triple digits. My car at the time was a 1998 Oldsmobile, 88, named "Dolly" she had some work done cosmetically and internally, she was an aging, national treasure that represented everything that makes 'Merca, the greatest country in the world.
The stop and go traffic, mixed with intervals of air conditioning, one-hundred plus degree weather and the 295,000 miles underneath her hood left her a little hot and rattly at times. I began to consume podcasts in my longer commutes; I needed something to keep my mind off the miserable heat and constant fear of being inside Dolly when she finally croaked for good, oddly enough this is not innuendo. On this particular day I was listening to Adam Carolla, as he was going on and on with a repetitive rant about sports; not the instant Huey Lewis classic; that Patrick Bateman so brilliantly lectures Paul Allen about in "American Psycho", but just your run of the mill four major sports: football, basketball, baseball and hockey? You know, jock shit, brah.
The summations of Carolla’s rant was that the reason people [he] love[s] sports, is that the only thing that matters is who can play. Race doesn't matter. We saw Linsanity take over a sport with a hugely black and urban majority of players and fan base. Think about how crazy that is for a second, you have an Asian player who went to Harvard take over the NBA. It is literally the exact opposite of the plot to the film "Trading Places". (This would make Landry Fields Dan Akroyd/Jamie Lee Curtis?)
Age doesn't matter. Peyton Manning is having the greatest season a QB has ever had in the history of the NFL and he is 37. At 37 he is on pace to star in more Papa John's commercials than any other season and win the MVP, it's the equivalent of when another GOP enthusiast, Clint Eastwood, won the Oscar for Unforgiven at the ripe old age of 114. As long as you can play that's all that matters.
Racism doesn't matter. There are countless athletes that have spewed so much hateful garbage that you would think they completely forgot about the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement; this is excusable if you hail from Texas, where history text books have been “tweaked”. Alas even racism is forgiven. Just a few months ago a video of Riley Cooper or "Coop" as no fans call him, went viral with him dropping the "N" word. Not the "N" word that ends with an "a" and Jay-Z rhymes with jigga but the "er" kind that was repetitively used in "12 Years a Slave". Philly fans for the most part as well as the Eagles, led by Don Henley, I mean Michael Vick, have forgiven Coop, and now Coop is catching touchdowns. AGAIN, as long as you can play that's all that matters.
I play sports regularly but it is not my profession, I have amassed my gargantuan fortune [sarcasm] as a lineman, not as a football lineman but a man who cooks food on a line. I have done everything from sushi to sauté. Either you’re selling crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot, or neither and you have to work at a restaurant. For the majority of us working in a restaurant is “Friendville” with someone you want to be more than a friend. You take a step back and wonder, what wrong turns did I take to wind up in Friendville? The restaurant is our Friendville; what series of wrong choices did we make to find ourselves in this beyond beleaguered, nefariously underpaid profession where the terrible hours are nothing compared to our lack of health care. Working a line is like going to war, and with that being said…
I have and would go to war with anyone who can hold his or her own. If they had my back, I had theirs. I have gone to war with: old men, old women, lesbians, (lipstick and butch) gays, (top and bottom) people of all races, people of all income brackets, republicans, racists, democrats, people with tonsils and people without tonsils. Whether it is front of the house or back of the house, it is more diverse than even the most calculated ad for the Gap. You could have a hostess working nights in high school take you to your table, be waited on by a gay waiter with multi-colored hair, have your order made by a 58 year old illegal immigrant named Consuela, and the supplies were delivered to the restaurant by a driver who just got back from a tour in Iraq.
My old Chef, Brett, was a culinary genius. His litmus of food was only challenged by his knowledge of music, with an emphasis on classic rock. Brett, was a above average height, slender man, with a long pony tail that reached his lower back and shaved sides which he referred to as his “hillbilly white walls”. Brett, had a coarse voice, naturally full of base only amplified by 40 years of smoking, Brett was 47 by the way. His labyrinthine lines of facial hair was constantly being stroked by his thumb and index finger while he tried to make sense of the tickets as they poured in at an unimaginable pace during a lunch rush. Brett, as brilliant as he was, followed suit with the rest of the cliché chef traits, mainly he was a fucking asshole and suffered from crippling alcoholism. For everything that Brett lacked in coping mechanisms and emotional stability he made up for in his love for his sons. Three boys ranging in age from 13-19, all of them different and excelling in everything from sports to music. He knew he never had a chance but if he played his cards right his children would erase him and become his new litmus.
A few years ago Brett, learned he fathered a son he never knew. I don’t recall his name so I will give him a Hunger Games name, that seems to be popular at the moment, how about… Cobblestone Habberdash… We’ll call him Dash for short. Dash, had all the shortcomings your typical life growing up with out a father would so generously provide you with. Dash, needed a job and luckily his father ran a restaurant. In no time Dash, was behind the line with his old man; only culinary brilliance and gastro passion did not appear to be hereditary. Dash, struggled mightily in nearly every measurable category and wasn’t strong in the intangibles and instincts you look for in someone so green. Brett, had no choice, Dash, was let go. Brett knew if his line fell, prep would have to be pulled from the back to help the line, if prep fell behind, the menu would be stripped, with no menu, no customers and no customers=no jobs.
It doesn't matter if you are the child of the late and great Dr. Jerry Buss, if you can't ball you don't play, you're not starting over: Shaq, Kobe, Kareem, Magic, hell you're not starting over Smush Parker. It's as simple as that. These rules are borderline laws because we are talking about multi-billion dollar industries, with championships, fan bases, jobs, not just their jobs but front office jobs as well, general managers and coaches botch draft picks and the developments of players all the time and pay with their jobs. We are not talking about little league here. The New York Knicks have made headlines this season due to under performance and nepotism. Stand out 6th man, J.R. Smith, allegedly finagled his highly under qualified little brother a roster spot, in the off season the Knicks lost Chris Copeland, a big man that had a team friendly salary and would have helped fill the void left by the injuries and limited minutes of big men Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler. This nepotism has cost the team any shot of a future this season. The entire season for a fan base and organization gone because they ignored the unwritten rule of sports.
There are a lot of parallels in the sports and the service industry. The most glaring of all being that the majority of the people in these industries, couldn't succeed doing anything else and they wouldn't feel comfortable in any other profession. It is an industry for those who don't really fit in to the corporate norm, maybe we want neck tattoos, maybe we hate waking up before noon, maybe we swear like roughnecks, maybe we keep it too real, and maybe we’re gay? Wait-what?
So why if in sports and the restaurant industry where so many people start at the very bottom of society as outcasts and misfits, we are kindred spirits in so many ways. Why no gays in sports? If Michael Jordan were gay would he have been any less skilled? If Peyton Manning were gay would he not hit his receiver as dee--- actually let's use a different analogy. If Mesi had a boyfriend would he be any less skilled with the ball? The NFL has rapid declining little league numbers, this dwindles their talent pool, with already declining numbers do they NEED to be the progressive sport to survive another generation? Will children growing up want to risk concussions for a bigoted sport?
When you exclude any from participating are you slowing the growth. If Stern wanted to cement his legacy and globalize his sport, if Goodell wanted to go down as a saint as opposed to a villain in the annals of history, if Selig wanted to be relevant for generations, if whoever the hockey commissioner is wanted an up and coming part time writer to learn his name; simply find a gay superstar, be the trailblazer, heck make them a Portland Trailblazer, they have a liberal community. There are only so many Jackie Robinsons and Jackie Robinson moments left in history, jump on board and write your name in the stars.
The younger fan bases and players become the closer we get, the more of the buying power we will possess, the older perhaps more close minded higher income earners will eventually cease to exist. I personally feel like everyone I know, even if they use to oppose the gay rights movement has started to come around. Even my catholic, Mexican mother, has come around I don't know anyone under the age of thirty that has any serious issue with the equalization of gay rights and I live in UTAH!!! The more we make it the “norm” and logically and pragmatically talk about these things, the more footing we gain. The advancement of gay equality in sports and in life go hand in hand, they feed one another. We strive towards human equality, and if we are so close, a gay sports superstar may be the straw that breaks the camels back. We have gay: heads of state, actors, musicians, scientists, doctors, entrepreneurs, philanthropists and even clergymen. A sports super star is the final frontier; it can knock the door down to equality across the board. We are all waiting for you. Be the hero you are destined to be.
The average age of the Utah Jazz is 24.9. The top 3 picks in the upcoming NBA draft are presumably in some order: Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins and Marcus Smart their average age is 18 and 10 months. Stephen Curry, is the face of a franchise for a team that’s about to move the gayest city in the world. These aren’t the players your grandpa grew up watching, this isn’t George Mikan, these players are listening to Macklemore & Lewis, they are on Twitter, they wear hipster glasses, care about their brand perception, are VERY fashion savvy and if I were to make a Seinfeld reference to them, they probably wouldn’t get it. I am 28 years old and have a 5-year-old daughter; which means in that the draft class of 2016 will be closer to my daughter’s age than to me. They will roll their eyes at us when we try to explain to them the brilliance of a Simpson’s joke, Nirvana will be playing on the oldies station, entire meals will come in pill form and will not be close minded bigots.
The Sports Guy and soon to be Sports Czar, Bill Simmons, believes we are right around the corner from a gay superstar. Although looking at his football picks, he should be trying to jinx it. I for one will be proud to call myself a sports fan, knowing that I support the most progressive industry in the world; an industry that welcomes the underdog and the outcast with no way out, and gives them a means to create opportunity for others who by nearly any other means would not have one..