Happy 2023!

Here are the goals for writing on this abandoned blog for 2023 and going forward:

  • To engage more in commentary about tennis. The sport has been, as far as I’m concerned, in a bit of a round-about, going around and around, not sure where to get off, what direction to go, etc. Part of this is straight-up a result of Covid and the shitshow that is life in general at this point, the attention and inattention to health that we all assume; indeed, this is a personal and political discussion about health, about freedom, about humanity and so many other points one wants to throw-in this cauldron of perspective and division. Covid threw the sport of tennis for a loop (around the aforementioned round-about). The cancellations, the illness, the new rules and regulations, the bans, and so on. All of this affected individual players differently. In the end, we have come back around, a bit. Let’s hope that we have enough control over this lingering virus to end the various illnesses and bans. Undoubtedly, the case of Novak is exemplary.
  • If there is one thing about me (that is both a strength and a weakness), it’s that I have a lot to say about life, about people, certain trends, certain events. I am going to extend the commentary beyond tennis, starting today, with some thoughts on the heart injury to American football player Damar Hamlin. Everyone knows what happened to this kid Monday night in the Bills-Bengals MNF game. I will elaborate below.
  • I want to engage in a more personal dialogue on this blog, use this space to reflect on my own life. I have my own hobbies, athletic pursuits, my own health challenges and my work as a professor of rhetoric and writing (critical thinking) at a local university, which all provide plenty to talk about. Certain things about my life I need to be more engaged in, so keeping a journal of sorts should encourage me to dive deeper into these “certain things.” Personal finance is one such topic. I am actively saving, but are there better, smarter ways to develop this aspect of my life. And what in the fuck is going on with the market, now and into the future; where should we be putting our hard-earned money and whatever else we have to fund our future and those who depend on us?

I will leave the “outline” at three parts since I love the number three and I think I’ve covered just about every possible direction toward which this mind will go on this blog. To be fair to this sort of New Year’s resolution (I am not much for such yearly predictable declarations and pursuits), I need to write as much as I can on this blog. We’ll see how that goes.

On the tennis front, I am pumped for the start of the 2023 season. And yes I am glad that Novak has been given the green light to play Australia. Looking forward to digging into these warm-up events going on. At the outset of this season, I think we have some staying power on tour from a few Americans (a nice element given the dearth of that particular country’s talent in the last several years, coupled with our rich tennis legacy). Time to find some tennis to watch, which can be a bit of a chore given how the folks of the streaming world, I am talking about the likes of Tennis Channel and YouTube TV, sometimes make access to live tennis difficult. I can watch some matches live on the TC app, and do have full access (I believe) to recorded matches on my TC app. Yes, YT and TC do not coexist. In this crazy and evolving world of streaming, these kinds of challenges (if we even want to refer to them as such) will occur.

The Adelaide International 1 event is loaded. Djokovic is in play later today against the young Frenchman Halys, but the draw is littered with big racquets, so this should be a good first look at some form going into Melbourne.

Here’s what I have to say about the Damar Hamlin injury. First, a heart attack is more than an injury, so I do want to make that clear. He is, I believe, still in critical condition, but signs are looking good that he will survive this event.

Listening to the reaction from the broad, saturated 24 hour news cycle on this has been interesting, but most if not all of these reactions pretty much just reiterate how we all feel about this, mainly how tragic this event is, that a young person falls into such real danger of losing his life. It’s sad. That is the main reaction we should all have. The next or parallel reaction is frustration and anger at the sport, the leadership/management of American football; this recorded and now common discourse has been in the broad public, sporting, and football culture for years and years. Most of this has been surrounding the head injury history and scandal (evidence of all of this is quite accessible, but this is a good example, an essay I have taught in college quite a bit).

The injury to Damar Hamlin did not involve head injury. Without getting into the medical specifics (because I am not trained in such and will render a pretty inaccurate explanation), this guy suffered what (almost) ammounted to commotio cordis, which is a “sudden arrhythmic death caused by a chest wall impact,” which is described as happening to mostly male athletes who play contact sports. I am already off here, likely, because it looks like the term commotio cordis refers to a death from such an impact on the heart. His heart stopped because of the impact he sustained during the tackle and fortunately he had expert medical attention asap, which saved his life.

Most of the reactions fit the description above, along the lines of sadness, shock, frustration, etc. I listened to a lot of “expert” sports commentators and ex-athletes talk in this predictable way. Again, we all felt this way.

But my sense is that many of the football honks, the people who simply love this extremely violent sport, are being apologists, which is actually not that surprising or insightful, are couching their reactions in a way to curtail the criticism of the sport that has been well documented and now in the aftermath of this horrific injury reinvigorated. Yes, their horror and sympathy is pragmatic in nature, as a way to wash the scandal of this inherently violent sport, the ongoing hysterical popularity of American football (mainly here in the states).

I am not a big fan, supporter, of the sport. I have other reasons, aside from the unbridled violence and human degradation that thrive at the heart, in the heart, of this sport. No need to elaborate on my reasoning, but the extensive violence, criminally ignored, is the coup de grâce of this sport’s failure, a failure that includes the many fans and apologists who advocate for minimizing these horrific injuries (and deaths: look at the CTE narrative for more on the lethal nature of this sport).

To reiterate: much of the outpouring of shock and sympathy, sadness and terror, of the event that nearly killed Damar Hamlin, is an attempt to deflect from the criticism of this sport.

When the league (under obvious pressure culture-wide) decided to suspend the game (they will almost certainly finish/replay this game given its importance to the league’s playoff picture), that was unprecedented. In other words, one can see that maybe the realization of this sport’s depth of deadly violence is too much to ignore. They had never stopped a game because of a player’s injury or death. Chuck Hughes died during a game in 1971. They finished that game.

So, maybe this is progress, some level of acknowledgement of the sport’s unsustainable marriage to brutality and violence.

Then again, probably not.

And let’s finish with the idea that a logical extension of what I am saying is that we shouldn’t be surprised by this injury to Damar Hamlin. In fact, aren’t we surprised this kind of event hasn’t happened more often? Would players be willing to rethink their participation in the sport because of a more honest and extensive discussion of this unsustainable threat to human life?

Many would not; they consider the danger as part of the game. And other vocations, avocations, and activities carry similar inherent risks. Players know what they are getting themselves into, have signed-on, so to speak.

My main point is that a lot of this “shock and awe” of the reaction to Hamlin’s near-death experience is partial bullshit, is subconsciously part apologist and part advocacy, as in wow, let us behold the spectacle of this incredible sport and the men who give their lives for this incredibly fascinating and lucrative form of entertainment, bathed in American patriotism and crass conservative values.

Talk to you soon!

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