So a quick note up top: Apologies about my unannounced blogging moratorium over the last week and a half. The combination of an unexpected trip to Brooklyn, the holiday season, and Snowtorious BIG (h/t: Azi Paybarah) diverted my attention to other, more immediate tasks at hand.
Comments made by Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and the Miami Heat’s LeBron James made headlines this past week. Rendell slammed the NFL, for postponing the Eagles-Vikings game in Philadelphia due to the snowstorm, attributing the decision to America’s wussification. James told reporters how it would be nice if elite basketball players weren’t stuck on underperforming teams and how the NBA could shrink the league.
I think James’ position on contraction in the NBA is wrong, and he has been criticized. After “The Decision,” it has become easy form to bash James for anything and everything. And even though I disagree with him, it is his opinion that is grounded in personal experience. Rendell, who has been inundated with interview requests, and support for his comments, came off as nothing more than a loudmouth blowhard.
In a radio interview, Gov. Rendell called the postponement of Sunday night’s Eagles-Vikings game at Lincoln Financial Field a “joke.” It is easy to get caught up in the silliness of Rendell’s comment about what Vince Lombardi would think of the decision (Couldn’t we just ask Dan Hedaya?), but there are two big issues at the heart of Rendell’s sentiments: his apparent disregard for public safety and his amazingly naïve take on international relations.
The NFL cancelled the game on Sunday morning. Six hours before kickoff – which was scheduled for the 8 PM hour – Philadelphia, a city, which Rendell was mayor of in the 1990s, declared a state of emergency. According to The New York Times, Rendell suggested that decision makers should have waited until 6 PM to make a final decision. Rendell, a sports fan who is expected to join the Eagles pre-game studio show after leaving office, should know that isn’t feasible. By 6 PM, tailgating is in full force in the parking lot. Most ticketholders will be either en route or about to leave for the game. To say nothing of the people who staff Lincoln Field on game day. These people would already be at the stadium by 6 PM. How does Rendell expect these people to get home if there was actually a blizzard?
As someone who served as a district attorney, mayor, and governor, Rendell should realize that some things are more important than a football game. One of those things is public safety. In New York City, people are livid that the mayor was nonchalant about the storm at first. Folks in New Jersey want to know why their governor left the state for the warm environs of Florida and Disney World the Sunday the storm arrived. Philadelphia dodged the worst of the storm, but it was still bad out there. What would the response had been if a capacity crowd spilled out of Lincoln Financial Field around midnight looking to get home as the storm was going full bore.
Take a look at this Philadelphia Inquirer article. Snow acculumation topped out at a foot. Wind gusts ranged from 30 m.p.h to 50 m.p.h. The visibility was so bad that a couple driving down I-195 ended up stranded on the median, not realizing that they were no longer driving on the highway. Southern New Jersey got walloped with 20 to 36 inches. I’m sure none of the people planning on going to the Eagles game were coming from those locales.
Before Tuesday’s game, Rendell took his inanity up a notch. During a radio interview, Rendell said, “We’ve become a nation of wusses. The Chinese are kicking our butt in everything. If this was in China, do you think the Chinese would have called off the game? People would have been marching down to the stadium; they would have walked, and they would have been doing calculus on the way down.” Rendell also attributed this sentiment to all those warnings on drug commercials – you know, the ones that usually tell you that one of the drug’s side effects is a worsening of the situation it is suppose to alleviate. Apparently, Rendell is a “Damn the consequences and medical information” type of fellow.
Seriously though, we are losing to China because we are wusses? That seems naively simplistic. I’m not going to endeavor to figure out why we are losing out to China, if we are at all, but what I can tell you, confidently, is that we are not losing to them because of our supposed “wussie-dom.” If Rendell believes that being less wussy, or amping up our machoness, is the key to turning the tide against China, he is sadly mistaken. In the coming decades, in our competitions with China, it will take innovation, ingenuity, and a lot of smart decision making by this country’s leaders. Public safety decisions regarding the postponement of a professional football game are a poor indicator of our success in this competition.
Maybe if Rendell took his talents to the South China Sea, he might realize this.