Chicago Cubs President Theo Epstein, talking about why he decided not to be a sportswriter:
“I realized I didn’t want to be a sportswriter when I was interning with the Orioles back in ’92, ’93, ’94. I did do a lot of media-relations stuff, and I saw that the life of a sportswriter is pretty lonely. You kind of work by yourself, sit there by yourself in the press box, go back to the hotel bar.”
The best parts of being a sportswriter – not having to work with anyone else and getting to drink on an expense account – is what made him not want to be one? Weird.
My son’s sixth grade social studies class is doing a thing in which kids come up with their own unique culture. Or a pretend nation or something. The idea is for them to create their own customs and folkways and stuff like that. As a bit of extra credit, the kids can bring in an “indigenous” food dish unique to their land. My son decided that in his country – the nation of Big Top, which is an island in the North Atlantic where citizens’ lives revolve around circuses an roller coasters – the local specialty is macaroni and cheese. So he asked me to make macaroni and cheese.
I baked it last night. It was the Martha Stewart mac and cheese, by the way, because the Elders of Big Top don’t friggin’ play. This afternoon I heated it back up in the casserole dish in the oven and then spooned it into little foil cups in muffin tins so each of the 28 kids in the class could have their own portion. I kept that warm until it was time to take them to school.
When I got to the school the two women in the office audibly gasped. “Oh, my, you baked?!” one said in genuine surprise. “We had a dad bake something and bring it in last spring,” the other said, recalling it as one can only recall something truly notable. “That wasn’t you, was it? I think maybe it was you?” It wasn’t me, but I smiled and then took the mac and cheese to my son’s classroom when they buzzed me through.
The mac and cheese was a hit. Every kid in the class had some. It was gone in seconds. As they finished it, several of the kids said how much they liked it, telling Carlo things like “your dad is a good cook!” That obviously made me happy. Several others, however, added words describing how shocking and surprising it was that a dad, and not a mom, did the cooking and brought stuff in to school like that.
It’s amazing how low the bar is for dads. It’s so low that office staff who probably see a few dozen parents a day are legitimately tickled pink that a dad cooked something for a school project. Yet, despite it being so low, so few dads jump over it, apparently, as their shock and the shock of the children in my son’s class make plain.
I realize that working from home gives me an advantage a lot of dads don’t have. I can take some time out of my day and swing by the kids’ school for stuff like that. And, as a divorced dad, I obviously do the cooking at my house. But I would nonetheless hope that a few more dads did stuff like this so as to render it at least a tad less shocking. Especially in an affluent ‘burb like New Albany, where most dads aren’t punching a clock or holding down multiple jobs.
Step it up, guys, will ya?
In times of scandal and public outrage, we're asked to think of our children. Our wives and daughters. It is possible, and even necessary, however, to set our moral compasses with reference to society at large, not just our own families. To fail to do so is to reject reason and abstraction. And to reject reason and abstraction sets us down the path to a new dark age.
I played sports in high school and I went to college with a bunch of guys from small towns who cared very little about the feelings and humanity of women and who understood them even less.
I spent eleven years in a male-dominated industry where crude and sexist comments were common, women were devalued and discriminated against and men openly and routinely cheated on their wives and girlfriends.
In more recent years, I have written about sports, which has led to a great deal of interaction with some fairly obnoxious and sexist Internet trolls, and I have spent at least some time in actual locker rooms. At the same time, because I am a clean-cut, white family guy who lives in a conservative suburb, people assume that I am comfortable with all manner of racist, sexist and homophobic sentiments and thus they often feel quite free to share them with me in the belief that I will not judge them.
As a result of all of this, I have heard a lot of vile things from a lot of vile men over the years. Men who would make your skin crawl and whose comments would make you question your faith in humanity.
Never, however, have I heard any of these men say, matter-of-factly or even in jest, that it’s cool to kiss or grope a woman in the way Donald Trump described. Never have their comments, however crude or sexist, suggested that they believe sexual assault was just a tool in their romantic toolbox.
There are men who do believe such things, of course, and nearly every woman you know could share a story about being groped or assaulted at some point in their lives. But the suggestion from Donald Trump – that this was just “locker room banter” or “boys being boys” – is a lie. Moreover, the characterization of these comments by the news media as “lewd” or “provocative” is both understated and misleading.
Locker room banter, at its worst, involves idiots saying what they’d do to a woman if given the chance. Trump, in contrast, believes being given the chance is irrelevant and that he can just take what he wants regardless of a woman’s feelings or consent because he’s famous or because, dammit, he just wants to.
Donald Trump did not make “lewd comments.” Donald Trump did not engage in “locker room banter.” He gave a full-throated endorsement of sexual assault, the sort of which even the worst men I have known have never done and never would do. To brush this off as mere crude discourse or immaturity is wrong. What Trump described doing is sick, assaultive, violent and illegal, full stop.
Donald Trump’s last seven days include:
In every single presidential election in our nation’s history, even one of these things would functionally disqualify a candidate, causing them to lose the support of his party and the support of an overwhelming majority of his would-be voters.
In 2016, tens of millions of people will still vote for him because there is a little elephant next to his name and because they think Hillary Clinton is a bitch.