>>> Bang for Your Buck
By staff writer David Nelson

October 8, 2006

Essential New Word of the Week: nightfood (definition hint: breakfast in bed?)

I have a penis. This factoid is great for starting conversations on the bus, and it's also more informative than you might think. Once you know someone's gender, you can make some basic, but educated guesses about their likes and dislikes. In other words, the presence of a dong can intuitively fill in many spaces in the great Scantron survey of life. The presence of “my” dong can fill all kinds of holes, in fact.

This isn't exactly a news flash. If you’re a guy, you probably enjoy beer, fellatio, and movies with lots of explosions—all at the same time, if you're having a really good day. The ancients had a word for this phenomenon… marketing. For example, roughly 50% of the population enjoys the sight of boobs. Accordingly, smart people have used them to sell everything from togas to cars to all-natural boob enhancement cream.

“I’ve seen enough Star Trek to know that sports are expected to evolve over time.”

As far as typical male stereotypes go, I take pleasure in embracing them all. But there's a critical one that has passed me by, and it bothers me. Since high school, I have been unable to enjoy watching sports. It’s become too tedious. I know there are a lot of sports fans out there, but before you revoke my membership to the Boy’s Club, hear me out.

Back in school, I was as much of a fan as anyone. It didn't matter if it was a critical playoff game or a meaningless, late-season rout; I found the same organic delight in just watching a baseball or hockey game unfold. Even golf/tennis/NASCAR (a.k.a. the shemale sports) would do in a pinch. But since graduating, circumstances have conspired to rob me of one of life's simple pleasures (two, if you count a diminished capacity for masturbation).

I happen to live in Toronto, a town that hasn't had a contending team in any sport since George Bush's dad barfed on Mr. Miyagi. Additionally, I spent a few years outside North America altogether, with precious little access to boxscores. When I got back, the only names I recognized were Coco Crisp and Milton Bradley, because that's just the kind of childhood I had.

What's more, teams that I once followed had packed up and moved to different cities. Truly, is there any better way to say ” fuck you, city” than relocating the local sports franchise? Maybe if King Kong climbs your tallest skyscraper and has an enormous bowel movement on the citizens below, but not by much.

Thankfully, I can still enjoy participating in sports. But right now, I'd sooner watch Battlefield Earth than a baseball game. I'm still hoping to reconnect with my inner face-painter. But since it's too much work to change anything about myself, I propose that it's the sports themselves that should be changed. I’ve seen enough Star Trek to know that sports are expected to evolve over time. Usually, this involves cutting sleek airholes in the equipment or gluing snazzy fins to the uniforms. That’s all well and good, but it’s going to take some radical changes to reignite my interest.

Basketball is the first sport in need of an overhaul. Apparently, players are supposed to dribble the ball if they want to move around with it. In reality, referees only enforce this rule against players who have personally run over their pet kittens. Turn on any NBA game, and you’ll see more traveling than Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.

I have no idea why referees are reluctant to call traveling fouls, but it has to change. I don’t give a crap if this results in lower-scoring games. And check this out: What if goaltending were suddenly legal? The scariest dudes could just hang off their own baskets, trying to prevent the ball from going in. Anyone attempting to dunk would have to contend with a scenario straight out of American Gladiators.

My time-traveling sidekick informs me that at the turn of the last century, basketball courts were surrounded by a 12-foot chain-link cage which separated players from fans. Obviously, basketball could benefit from a return to this. At the risk of sounding derivative, I think they could take a page out of pro wrestling and award the match to a team if they’re able to escape the cage during play. Suddenly, zone defense would take on an entirely new dimension.

Even though it’s not kosher, let’s talk pigskin for a moment. Ever since the NFL decided to crack down on end zone dances, they’ve been known as the “No Fun” League. And as long as we’re changing acronyms, I think “Negroes Fart Lemonade” has a certain understated elegance. In any case, NFL needs to lighten up on touchdown celebrations. The defense’s feelings might get hurt, but games need more entertainment, not less.

Under my bold new vision for football, end zone celebrations would be not only encouraged, but in fact mandatory. A team of impartial choreographers would be on hand to award 1 to 5 extra points based on the originality and complexity of the post-touchdown dance. Just think of how many Super Bowls Ickey and his eponymous Shuffle could have won.

Football is often compared to war: the quarterback is a general leading his troops into enemy territory, peppering them with long bombs, etc. The problem with this analogy is, war is rarely a two-sided affair. There are multiple parties and shifting allegiances.

Why not in football as well? The rectangular playing field that we’re used to could be replaced other shapes, allowing more than two teams to play at the same time. With three teams each trying to defend one side of a giant triangle, football could become a political game, as well as an athletic one. If you trust your allies on the left, you might score on the team to the right. But if they betray you, you might be forced into desperate tactics, like spiking their Gatorade with anthrax.

I’d even settle for something smaller, like the abolition of the fair catch. The XFL was a hopeless spectacle that no one took seriously, but X-perts agree it got the fair catch rule X-actly right. Supposedly, the rule is supposed to protect the receiver, whose attention is on the incoming punt. I say, force that receiver to divert his attention, and we’ll see more vicious tackles and exciting fumble recoveries.

Why do receivers deserve extra protection, anyway? It’s not like they were forced into the NFL at gunpoint. Admittedly, not many would-be players aspire to special teams, but if after-school specials have taught me one thing, it’s that anyone labeled “special” deserves no mercy, and that includes the kids on the short bus.

Hockey is a difficult sport to change. Hell, it took until the 1980’s just to make helmets mandatory. Or a more recent example: the infamous FoxTrax puck. As the story goes, Fox had NHL broadcasting rights in 1994, and some executive, possibly a robot infiltrator, thought it would be a good idea to stuff traditional pucks full of electronics. On TV, the visual result was a bluish glow around the puck, and a red comet tail if it moved faster than 70 miles per hour.

Anyone who isn’t an Italian plumber or a speedy hedgehog could see that making hockey into a video game was a big mistake. Nevertheless, Fox went ahead with this scheme. Public response was divided: a few troglodytes were better able to follow the puck, but mostly, FoxTrax was greeted with the kind of derision usually reserved for high school kids who think they’re vampires.

Under current NHL rules, kicking the puck into the net (or directing it in with the skate) results in no goal. This is absurd. The point of the game is to put the puck into the net. Soccer players are allowed to use their heads. Figure skaters are allowed to use lead pipes to club each other’s kneecaps. Why shouldn’t hockey players be allowed to kick in a goal if the opportunity presents itself?

Believe it or not, we’ve already had a taste of hockey’s evolution. The Running Man was all about a futuristic game show in which falsely accused criminals fought off murderous thugs, each with a different theme to his career. And if you’ll think back, the first one dispatched was a guy named “Subzero.” Now, I’m not saying that future hockey teams should be comprised entirely of fat Asian goaltenders with razor-sharp sticks, but the game should be even more physical. Fighting does not warrant a penalty. Also, the National Anthem should be replaced with a recording of Arnold Schwarzenegger saying “Here is your Subzero… now, plain zero!”

Baseball is, truly, a noble and captivating sport. Sure, I could make a bunch of retarded suggestions to improve it. But no amount of hidden land mines or 7th inning lap dances can change one simple fact: I just don’t have the kind of time one needs to be even a casual fan of the game.

But maybe I’ve hit upon a simple truth here. Sports fandom only rewards you for the time you put into it. Historically, this goes a long way to explain how fans in cities like Boston or Cleveland could turn up every season, despite the previous season’s hilarious futility. It’s not a pastime for the impatient, or the perpetually busy. It must be my schedule that’s changed, not my tastes.

Now that I’m aware of this, I guess sports don’t really need to be jazzed up after all. Except for soccer. Watching greasy Europeans run up and down a field for three hours would be much more entertaining if there were, say, panthers chained to strategic parts of the field.

Tonight, I’m going to call in sick to work, buy a six-pack, and sit me down to take in a baseball game, start to finish. I don’t actually own an oversize novelty foam finger, so instead, I’ll wave around the penis that I mentioned at the top of this article. It may not be foam, but at least it’s oversize.

Essential New Word of the Week:

nightfood (‘najtfud) n

Late night snacks are a most enjoyable part of life. If you’ve been drinking heavily all evening, it’s a certainty that hunger will set in during the wee hours. And nightfood is the answer to your prayers. You see, it’s all about taking shortcuts. Instead of assembling a sandwich, you can take sequential bites out of a loaf of bread, a hunk of meat, and a wheel of cheese. Then you’d top it off with a squirt of mustard right in the mouth. The shortcuts don’t end there, either.

Getting out of bed is a major hassle, so nightfood technically comes to bed with you. It doesn’t matter if you fall asleep, you can just wake up a few hours later next to a pile of delicious chicken fingers, defrosted by your own body heat. The term itself originates from a friend, who has mastered the technique so thoroughly, we started to call him Johnny Nightfood.