Letters to Jim: Sports and the Holidays
Top illustration by Tim Forkes
Welcome to our final month of 2021. If you are like me, you are looking forward to holiday shopping because this is the year we can tell others the gifts we planned to buy are on a ship stuck offshore. This will be the year of the gift card.
Until it is time to ho ho ho with relatives you have managed to avoid thanks to covid, here is the latest batch of fan mail for your enjoyment.
What are your feelings and thoughts about the verdict in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse? It seems like justice only applies when white people are the victims of crimes. Is this a cynical look at our justice system or is there some truth to it?
Like so many other things, justice seems to be based on our beliefs. Clearly, if you felt what Rittenhouse did was wrong, you believe he was the beneficiary of a skewed system. However, if you agree with the verdict, you believe justice prevailed. Neither is justice.
Justice is supposed to be the result of laws already written being equally applied to all parties no matter their race, religion, wealth, or any other factor. The problem is, most of us who followed the trial had preset opinions and could not be bothered with following the entire trial. I am one of those guilty of this.
When you follow the trial from start to finish, you learn all the parameters of what will be allowed, what the actual laws in question state, and what the burden of proof requires the prosecution to provide the jury. Then there is the actual jury selection as well as the judge’s instructions. Finally, it requires you to shut off the volume when a network offers up their legal experts, many of whom know nothing about the law in the state the trial is taking place.
It’s just easier for us to stick to our preconceived opinions and then react viscerally to the verdict, especially when it goes against what we believe. Under our system of justice, what we believe does not matter.
With that said, I have a hard time thinking a reactionary 17-year-old who [was driven by his mother] two hours to a BLM march armed is going there to keep the peace, especially when there was never a call by law enforcement for support. Was Rittenhouse guilty of premeditated murder? Maybe. Maybe not. Was he defending himself because of someone else’s actions toward him or did he cause this to happen by being where he was not needed?
If Rittenhouse does not go to Kenosha, he does not end up shooting three people. That is a fact. Just as it is a fact if Michael Brown never robbed a convenience store a few years back leading to a 911 call, he is not killed by a police officer. In both cases, two young men caused a huge amount of discord in this country all because of poor decisions they made. However, one led to a black man being “justifiably” killed by a police officer while the other demonstrated how a young armed white man is allowed a much greater amount of privilege. Had Rittenhouse been black, there is a good chance he would have been shot by police.
This all falls on Rittenhouse, and his parents who seemed fine with him owning a gun and taking it with him to Kenosha. He was found not guilty this time, but I believe if he and his parents are held accountable in a civil suit, the verdict will be different.
You recently wrote a baseball article that included several photos. You always provide your readers with many other great photos when you write a sports-themed article. But then I notice you seem to point out you do not follow sports nearly as closely as you once did. My question is, who provides you with your great photos since I assume you do not attend the events you write about?
Dear Photo Fan,
My editor, Tim Forkes, received a lot of grief over having hired me to write for the Baltimore Post-Examiner. Not wanting to repeat the same mistake and realizing most people prefer looking at pictures instead of reading my articles, he went out and hired Claudia Gestro.
Claudia is not just a great photographer; she is an excellent reporter and I highly recommend you follow her on YouTube. Apparently, she is also far more attractive than me which is why you see her picture at the top of our home page and not mine.
I have tried many times to secure interviews with the best athletes in southern California. When I tell them who I am and who I write for, I always get told to come back when Claudia can ask the questions. I used to think these athletes did not like me because I am from the Bay Area and am a northern Californian at heart. However, I am beginning to think it may have something more to do with what my legs look like in cargo shorts and the fact I have trouble holding a microphone and talking at the same time. Check out Claudia’s work for yourself on YouTube. She’s better than any of the talking heads we see on TV.
Are you for real? I am beginning to think you are just a pen name used by your editor. I don’t even think the photos of you used are you. Can you set the record straight? Are you a real person or an example of fake news?
Both. I assure you I am real. However, I might also be part of the fake news depending on your beliefs. Do you really believe my editor would select the photos he uses for me when he has access to countless others? I know this because he stole my identity and tried using my ID to get into his favorite bar. You see, my editor, Tim Forkes, is actually a high school freshman and not the person he claims to be.
How did you gain your love for current events and sharing your thoughts about them? Was this something you decided to do on a whim, or have you always followed what unfolds in the world?
I suppose it goes back to when I was in 5th grade and every week my teacher, Mrs. Steele, killed an hour of education with show and tell. When others took the time to engross the class by bringing in things like their pet tarantula, I preferred standing in front of the class talking about the Vietnam War. For special effects, I asked for the classroom lights to be turned off and I shined a flashlight on my face for dramatic effect.
Finally, one day, Mrs. Steele snapped, actually she snapped two or three times every day, and said, “You are no different than all the other pinko commie reporters who want to see the red menace conquer the world. Why can’t you bore us with your baseball card collection like the other boys in class?”
At that moment, a light went on in my head and I found my true calling. Only years later would I find out it was the classroom lights that came on as our overzealous light monitor couldn’t help himself.
Can you break down the NBA season in a way that makes sense? Why is the season so long?
Fading Hoops Fan
The season is way too long considering the eventual outcomes. That said, here is how I break it down.
The preseason is a month each fall in which stars sit around and watch others play games hoping to become bench players. This is followed by the first 40 games of the regular season where teams play a variety of opponents and see who they want to trade on their team for players from other teams. Then comes the all-star break where for five days superstars showcase their skills in even less meaningful competitions.
Next, you have games 41 through 60 where trades have been made and teams go through yet another feeling out process. Games 61 through 82 are just for teams with an eye for the postseason to finally round into shape and be at their best. If a player is dinged up, he is rested and teams on a roll try to win games to improve their playoff seeding.
Finally, the playoffs come where fringe teams get blown out by talented teams before arriving to the conference and league finals that almost always pit the top four teams “experts” predicted at the beginning of the season. In the end, fans get about three weeks of exciting basketball that were preceded with pointless endeavors sold to the public as must-see events.
Do you have any favorite Christmas carols? If so, what are they?
When it comes to Christmas carols, I have two rules; as long as I do not hear it until after Thanksgiving and it isn’t sung by Mariah Carey, I am fine with it. Most carols I just tune out in much the same way I ignore elevator music. A few I enjoy although I can’t think of them by title.
Last year will be remembered as the year of the great pandemic. What do you think this year should be remembered for? Was there any historical value to this year? Thanks.
All that comes to mind when I think about this year is that it wasn’t 2020. It’s been kind of like a bad break up where you try to move on, but then something happens to remind you of what was. However, if what once was remains in the past, we have the future to look forward to, which is either a good thing or a bad thing depending on your state of mind and your vaccination status.
Have you any predictions for the coming year? I am curious to know what you think lies ahead for us as we move on from the Trump years. Are better days ahead?
I feel confident when I say the coming year will finally be the year I keep enough clean socks on hand to wear a clean pair every day. If this happens, the year will be a successful one for me. As for the nation, it’s still everyone for themselves until we can find a way to come together and unite over a worthy cause. Maybe this will be the year we come together over something that does not include going to war. Legalizing pot didn’t do the trick so maybe we should consider legalizing something harder like heroin.
I predict another letter will be added to the LGBTQVCHBO bunch to give us more confusing choices over who we are. Since race and religion are no longer allowed to be targeted by a-holes, I predict left-handed people are the next target on the list of hate groups with red heads a close second. 2022 will be the year the Detroit Lions win a high school state championship, your favorite band sells a special 20th, 25th, 30th, and 40th edition of the only album of significance they ever released, and QAnon members attempt to take over the country by storming local Elks clubs.
Otherwise, I see a normal year ahead.
Do you think there is a concerted effort to diminish the value of Christmas with the movement to get people to stop saying, “Merry Christmas,” to others? What’s wrong with saying these words to people at this time of year?
No one is attacking Christmas. People are just asking we be more mindful that more than Christmas is celebrated during this time of year. If you know someone celebrates Christmas and won’t be offended by wishing they have a joyful one, then go for it. However, if in doubt, you might want to rethink your word choice.
Look at it this way. Have you ever wondered if a woman is pregnant or not? Have you put your foot in your mouth and asked them when they are due only to find out they are not pregnant? Have you assumed two women together are mother and daughter to find out they are sisters? Have you ever forgotten the name of someone you bump into and have no idea how to address him?
I prefer wishing others a happy holiday because it covers all my bases and leaves it to them to wonder about me and my practices instead of me getting yelled at for assuming the wrong thing. Hawaiians have eliminated this stuff by simply wishing Aloha to others all-year round. It pretty much covers everything and everyone. If you have no idea whether you or someone else is coming or going, practicing a specific religion, are the offspring of Satan, or sacrificing cats, just say, “Aloha.” Best of all, it covers you year-round and not just during the month of December.
Until next year, be safe out there, mask up, and remember it is always better to give than receive so feel free to send me gift cards. Aloha!
James Moore is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching and currently runs his own personal training business, In Home Jim, in Hemet, CA. Jim’s writings are often the end result of his thoughts mulled over while riding his bike for hours on end.