HARVARD SQUARE COMMENTARY

December 17, 2007
From the Editor

John Turner


The great snow storm came and wasn't quite as great here in Central Vermont as some feared it would be. Still, it deposited about fourteen inches of new snow in my yard, but not enough seriously to hamper mobility.

I took advantage of being snowed in yesterday to do something I haven't done in years. I watched three football games in a row. All through the spectacle, which I confess I enjoyed, I was mindful of George Will's remark earlier in the day on ABC's This Week that there are now more than three hundred professional football players who weigh more than three hundred pounds. And they didn't get that way simply by eating cheeseburgers. When three hundred pound steroid- fortified bodies hurl themselves against one another the resulting force is greater than human sinew and bone can stand. There are injuries now, not on every play, but so often that broken bodies have become a prominent part of the game. I think that's bad and that the game is being diminished thereby -- not to mention the bodies. But I doubt very much that anyone will try to do anything about it.

I notice that the McLaughlin Group has added Monica Crowley to its regular panel, and I wonder how that came about, her being a nitwit and all. Tony Blankley was wrong about most things but at least he wasn't a nitwit.

Everybody on TV I've heard talk about the campaign over the past week says the Clinton team is demoralized. Mark Penn is roundly denounced by everyone. I don't know whether the Clinton group is in disarray or not, but it's true that Mark Penn, at least as he shows himself on TV, is obnoxious. Almost always when I see campaign advisors I am left wondering what it is that got them to where they are. They never strike me as fonts of wisdom.

The best thing I've heard about the baseball scandal was Bob Schieffer's commentary on Face the Nation about how when he was young he chewed tobacco because that was what all the big baseball players did. And in later life, he paid a price. Maybe it was a bit hokey, but it was heartfelt and it made a valid point.

On 60 Minutes, Katie Couric asked Alex Rodriguez whether $27 million per year was too high a price for a ballplayer. He answered in the only way he sensibly could, that he didn't set the prices, he simply competed for what was available. It's pretty clear that many players understand that money in professional sports is out of hand. But they don't know what to do about it any more than the rest of us. We gasp at the salaries of professional athletes while forgetting to compare them to people who are really raking in big money. The latter is a far bigger problem than simply financial distortion in sports. In fact, attitudes about money is one of the principal human insanities, not quite as nutty as attitudes about sex, but getting there.

Until recently, I don't think I could tell the difference between Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson. But now, having watched cameras pan over the latter while she watched the Cowboys -- and her boyfriend -- get beat up by the Eagles in Dallas, I think I could pick her out of a lineup. I remain confused about the utility of keeping up with celebrities.

When we next send you the HSC it will be Christmas Eve. I hope that between now and then you won't spend too much money on Christmas presents, and, especially, that you won't spend money on things people don't want just because you have to send presents. But, whether you do or not, I wish you again a Merry Christmas.


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