Thursday, March 21, 2013

Things my friend Mark says - athletes and actors


My friend Mark is as funny and articulate as anyone in the blogosphere, but too lazy/humble/indifferent to start his own blog, so he just writes gold and sends it to me. His observations need to be shared, for amusement's sake if not for the betterment of mankind.
So Tiger Woods and Lindsay Va-va-Vonn are as one.
I must say that the popular press is positively slavering in hopes that this romance will come to a colorful and rocky end. It certainly has all the makings. Like most elite athletes, these are two utterly self-centered and actively unpleasant specimens who will remain together for precisely as long as it takes until either grows tiresome or annoying to the other.
I think I told you that my old friend, Alan Richman (whom you last saw at our wedding), has written frequently about the difference between athletes and actors as people. Alan has had 3 very successful careers. He was a top notch sportswriter for the Philadelphia Bulletin, Montreal Star (to cover the 76 Olympics from top to bottom), the Boston Globe and finally the New York Times as their Head Feature Sportswriter. He then moved on to career #2 - personalities. Head Writer for People Magazine, then "Writer at Large" for Esquire and GQ. Career #3 centers on food and wine, and he has won every major available award in those fields - some of them many times over. (Also a Bronze Star for service in Vietnam - Swift Boats. Oprah was at his wedding.)
Anyway, Alan says that he would definitely prefer to interview nearly any actor in the world to interviewing nearly any professional athlete. The reason? With very rare exceptions, actors know exactly how lucky they are. They are accustomed to being told "no" time and time again - even after they've gained a measure of success. Nearly every one of them knows how close they came to a lifetime of frustrated failure and obscurity, and how quickly it could be so again. Top level actors tend to be textured and pleasant people, who are pleased to make themselves available. It's part of success, and there are very few Lindsay Lohans out there. (This applies to actors only; musicians and politicians are specifically excluded from the Richman Rule.)
But elite athletes - from the moment that they show signs of special talent (usually around the age of 8) - become these little cossetted prince-lings and princesses. They don't have to study, they don't have to show respect to anyone, or be well mannered or even obey most laws. Their parents, teachers, coaches, principals, local police and even Judges look the other way, cover up, and make excuses. Those Steubenville, Ohio high school football players are a classic example - and CNN's Candy Crowley and others are taking real heat - as they should be - for lamenting the lot of the poor rapists, who are such fine boys, after all.
Top athletes grow up to be churlish and utterly self-serving. You've had to deal with them. But how could it be otherwise? They're surrounded by sycophants and toadies who egg them on. One former tennis star, notorious for his bad behavior on and off the court, is an obviously intelligent man who has matured nicely (in public) from his bratty youth. He's well into his 50s now and an active philanthropist; but he is still known to be rude, curt, dismissive, and really nasty to strangers and reporters in private.
So I hope that Eldrick and Lindsay have a good time rubbing their pleasure centers together until they grow to hate and betray one another. When Tiger is happy, he plays better golf - which is fun to watch. I hope their relationship lasts past Augusta.
Old Cynical, Accurate Me

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