Jeff Pearlman

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Today’s SI.com column …

kiffin.embedded.prod_affiliate.56haiti-generation

is on the laughable Tennessee football fans who showed significantly greater anger over the departure of their coach than the plight of hundreds of thousands of Haitians.

It’s a pathetic statement on the way sports can rot minds, and how we’ve lost complete perspective on what’s important. Truth is, the Tennessee situation happens to be a timely example. Yet across America, from Duke and North Carolina to USC and UCLA, people play waaaaaaay too great an emphasis on wins and loses, triumphs and defeats.

I love sports. But I’ve gotta laugh when I see these adult buffoons dressed to the hilt in overpriced sports duds, their faces painted, their screams primal, taking out all their aggression on a 21-year-old kid. It’s lame. But also humiliating. And the odd part? Most athletes would agree with me. While they’ll always pump their fists toward the stands in visual appreciation, behind the scenes most athlete don’t get the loons, either. How many current UT players will one day wind up in the stands, faces painted, cheeks red? I’m guessing four. Five, max.

Oy.

PS: Some of the letters I’ve received have been laughable. Here are a couple, sans names …

You article was in fact ridiculous.   Why don’t you stop writing your silly articles and maybe donate your time to helping those in need in Haiti.  Your perspective is very immature.   You must have not been accepted by your peers while in Tennessee.   But just because you were rejected don’t take it out on us.  Do me a favor go to your mirror and look very close.  What do you see?  A selfish, self absorbed, ego maniac with a inferiority complex?  That’s what I see.

Your pathetic

•

I am so glad you pointed out the misplaced values of Tennessee fans. I mean really you should be focusing in on how you can help, o wait, you chose to mock and belittle a group of fans rather than write about Haiti connecting it someway with sports, so that makes you just a big of an a** hole as those who over reacting to Kiffins leaving.  I am a Tennessee fan, and am pissed that he chose to leave after doing all he has done in the last year.  And imagine I gave money to Haitian relief.
Who has their priorities wrong, average Vol Fan who is pissed or guy with big voice ( media) who writes about sports fans instead of Haiti.

  • Classicist

    I think this is a little unfair. I doubt anybody would legitimately say that Lane Kiffin’s departure is a bigger deal in the grand scheme of things than the death of anybody, let alone 500,000 Haitians. That said, I don’t think you can say that the average Vols fan’s life is really all that affected by an earthquake in Haiti. Nor can you say that for yours or mine. Sure, we ought to be grateful for the blessings in our lives, but if you feel that we should stop caring about little things just because a tragedy struck somewhere else in the world, you might as well argue that we spend our entire waking lives flagellating ourselves to internalize the collective suffering of the world.

  • Classicist

    Also, not sure how somebody whose entire livelihood has been built on the backs of athletes can honestly question the legitimacy of grown men escaping into fandom once a week during football season. I mean, come on.

  • jb

    “Do me a favor go to your mirror and look very close. What do you see? A selfish, self absorbed, ego maniac with a inferiority complex? That’s what I see.”

    It’s refreshingly honest to hear someone talk about themselves that way, but this guy may have self-esteem issues.

  • Darrin

    When newspapers cut the sports budget and restore the countless cuts that have been made to international reporting, I’ll believe the media really is concerned about this issue.

    But I’m sure the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution will still somehow find it in their hearts to send at least three reporters to the Super Bowl even though the Rams, Steelers and Falcons won’t be there.

    You could have written this as a Mad Libs, Jeff. Just insert a tragedy, a school/team and a few expressions of outrage. Lazy.

  • Dave Eldred

    Is the earthquake in Haiti more important than Vols football, in the grand scheme of things? Yes.

    Are there tragedies occuring around the world on a daily basis — whether it be starving children in third wold countries, the issues that have plagued the Sudan, or any of an infinite amount of other problems that are more important than sports at any given time? Yes.

    So, to call out Vols fans — particularly for someone who has dedicated his life to writing (and making a living) about something that, at the end of the day, has less cosmic consequences than numerous other matters — is just silly, sanctimonious, and self righteous.

  • FrankD

    Classicist: if you read Jeff’s article, he actually extolls the virtues of escaping into fandom. But that’s not what the yahoos down in Tennessee were doing.

    There’s a difference between escapism, and using sports to validate your self worth. I’m a life long member of Red Sox Nation, so, believe me, I know what a self absorbed fan base looks like.

  • I agree with the general sentiments expressed by Classicist and others, but I wanted to wait before posting to think it’s over and make sure it’s fair. Having done so: It’s completely fair. I appreciate your trying to bring the Haiti situation into the living rooms of people who might not feel themselves otherwise affected, but I personally find this far too heavy-handed to be effective.

  • SeanLahman

    Even if you think its unfair to draw the comparison to Haiti, you have to admit that the amount of anger and vitriol being hurled at a loudmouth coach who accomplished nothing in his brief stay is ridiculous. People are taking to the streets and protesting because a coach changed jobs? It’s absurd, and shows an astonishing lack of perspective.

  • Nik Jones

    A fellow I used to work with and I used to try to come up with the most incongruous movie comparisons: “If you liked ‘Schindler’s List’, you’ll love Alvin and the Chipmunks!” “If you like ‘The Hurt Locker’, you’re gonna love ‘The Hangover’!” and so on… you gte the idea. That’s what this SI article reminds me of. The plight of Haiti is truly tragic, and the Lane Kiffin ‘situation,’ if you can call it that, like most sports-related stories, inconsequential. I’m not ‘getting’ the comparison, or why ‘Haiti’ and ‘Lane Kiffin’ are even in the same column. Yeah, the Tennessee fans overreacted (in my opinion) but most sports fanatics do. Their actions are reprehensible (why not just get pitchforks and torches) and they should be embarrassed and ashamed (A coach left one university for another? The Horror!). However, their asinine actions have ZERO to do with Haiti. Nothing. Why compare them?

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

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