There ain't no good guy
There ain't no bad guy
There's only you and me, and we just disagree
You learned from the previous 2 or 3 lines that I root for a small number of sports teams and root against a much larger number of teams.
If you think that’s irrational, you just don’t understand what it means to be a sports fan.
I’ve noticed over the years that the teams I root against tend to be remarkably lucky – they win many more games than they really should. Mathematics tells us that while any single contest can be and often is decided by luck, no sports team can be consistently lucky. But are you going to believe mathematics or are you going to believe me, especially when I’ve seen teams like the Red Sox and Redskins get lucky all the time with my own eyes?
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Two psychologists proved that being a sports fan does funny things to your brain way back in 1954.
“They Saw a Game: A Case Study,” which published in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, presents the findings of an experiment that was inspired by the 1951 football game between Dartmouth and the undefeated Princeton Tigers, whose star player was Dick Kazmeier, the last Ivy League football player to win the Heisman Trophy.
Before I tell you about that game and the psychological experiment it inspired, I want to tell you a little bit about the amazing Mr. Kazmaier.
Dick Kazmaier was born in 1930 in Toledo, Ohio. The 5-11, 155-pound Kazmaier lettered in football, basketball, baseball, track, and golf. Devoting all that time and energy to sports hurt his classroom performance – he ranked only second in his graduating class.
Kazmaier was recruited by 23 colleges, eventually choosing Princeton. He quarterbacked the Tigers to an undefeated season in 1951, leading the nation in rushing yards. In addition to winning the Heisman Trophy, he was voted “Athlete of the Year” by the Associated Press.
Kazmaier was drafted by the Chicago Bears, but declined to play professionally. Instead, he earned an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, spent three years in the Navy, and then founded an investment and financial consulting firm. He chaired the President’s Council on Physical Fitness during the Reagan and George H. W. Bush presidencies, and later became the president of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame.
Kazmaier’s last college football game – the 1951 matchup with Dartmouth – was a very rough one. He had to leave the game after he suffered a broken nose and a mild concussion in the second quarter. (You know what a “mild” concussion is, don’t you? It’s a concussion that someone else suffers.) In the next quarter, the Dartmouth quarterback’s leg broken when he was tackled by Princeton.
Each school’s student newspaper editorialized about dirty play by the other team, which inspired the psychologists to show a game film to groups of both Dartmouth and Princeton students.
Are you surprised that the Princeton students who watched the film saw twice as many rules infractions by the Dartmouth team than the Princeton players? By contrast, the Dartmouth students though both teams were guilty of about the same number of penalties. (For what it’s worth, the referees called more penalties on Dartmouth than Princeton.)
Here’s how the psychologists interpreted their data:
Like any other complex social occurrence, a “football game” consists of a whole host of happenings. Many different events are occurring simultaneously. Furthermore, each happening is a link in a chain of happenings, so that one follows another in sequence. The “football game,” as well as other complex social situations, consists of a whole matrix of events. . . .
In brief, the data here indicate that there is no such “thing” as a “game” existing “out there” in its own right which people merely “observe.” The “game” “exists” for a person and is experienced by him only in so far as certain happenings have significances in terms of his purpose. Out of all the occurrences going on in the environment, a person selects those that have some significance for him from his own egocentric position in the total matrix.
In other words, a football game is actually many different games, each one of which is just as real to a particular observer as other versions are to other observers.
That’s all well and good, but it still doesn’t explain why the Red Sox and Redskins and other teams I hate are so lucky.
Speaking of being lucky, Kazmaier – who died in 2013 – had six daughters.
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Dave Mason, who was one of the founders of Traffic, has recorded with Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Delaney & Bonnie, Graham Nash, and many others.
Mason, who is 70, is still touring. He and his band (including my pal Tony Patler, Mason's fabulous keyboard player) are in Florida this week, and will be performing in France and the UK in February and March.
Here’s Mason’s solo hit “We Just Disagree,” which was released on the Let It Flow album in 1977. It made it to #12 on the Billboard “Hot 100”
Click below to buy the song from Amazon: