Tuesday, June 2, 2009

MUST READ re: God & Sports

Wonder what God thinks about all the prayers for wins & the like? Could be something like this, from ESPN.com's Jeff MacGregor:

    Earlier, I asked [Dwight] Howard in the locker room to give me one or two reasons I should consider picking the Magic to defeat the Lakers.

    "God" was his answer, which was met with the counterargument that the Lord probably has better things to worry about than who wins a basketball game, and besides, religion and politics are usually best kept out of sports stories.

    "That's the reason, I'm telling you," Howard replied.
    -- Chris Sheridan, ESPN

Dear Mr. Howard,

Thanks for the recent shout-out. Always nice to see Myself in the papers. Or even online. As long as they spell your name right, huh?

Listen, a couple things We need to clear up.

First, and I'm not sure why I need to keep coming back to this, and not to get all Old Testament or anything: I'm not Santa. I'm not David Stern. I'm not even Jimmy the Greek. So I'm not going to intervene in the NBA Finals. I'm not even going to help set the line. OK? Nothing personal. Just not the way it works.

While I appreciate your obvious devotion, and without revisiting the ontology of the infinite whys and wherefores, I'll remind you that as the Omniscient Overseer Of All Things Everywhere, I've received an equal and offsetting request from the Lakers. Not saying who. Plus, I've already got some pretty big fish to fry and I'm booked solid.

I've got the GM bankruptcy this week, and folks out of work with sick kids, and the hopeless and the heartbroken. I've got Jon and Kate (oy), and I've got the fall of every sparrow, and the budding of all the crops and flowers and trees and on and on and on. And that's just the regional stuff.

Worldwide, I've got the Middle East and the two Koreas and all the restless 'Stans (Paki-, Afghani-, Uzbeki-, etc.), and I've got the helpless and the starving and the faithless and the homeless and the heartless and the thieves and the killers and the saints and the martyrs and Fiat trying to buy Chrysler and all the rivers running and the sun coming up and the sun going down and the endless turning, turning, turning of the stars. It's a full day, Dwight, let me tell you.

You have no idea how many requests I get. No idea. None. And that's just from the World Series of Poker. LOL. (They never check in but that they want something. You can't pick up a phone? You can't just call to say hello? And you expect me to show up for the flop? Fat chance.)

Anyway, whenever another big-time championship rolls around, I'm inundated. Like this, from last week. I'm a Nuggets fan, but still. You got the mountains. The blue skies. The Coors brewery right there. And now you want to move through to the NBA Finals? Some folks just don't get it. Sigh.

Specific requests along these lines need to be taken up with our Office of the Fates. Or, in some instances, with one of our Destiny caseworkers, all of whom can be reached through the Department of Predetermination.

[+] EnlargeDwight Howard
AP Photo/John Raoux"As you can see Dwight, on the eighth day I didn't create LeBron."

Trouble is, of course, that no amount of special pleading or loud argument will change their official position or the course of events -- determined entirely at random, believe Me, the original crapshoot and therefore infuriating -- on anything, so it's almost not worth the trouble of sitting through the menu options on their customer service line. Blown call, lucky break, bad hop, sun in your eyes, tainted clam at the awards banquet, etc., ad infinitum. Whatever. As their letterhead says: "It is what it is."

Dwight -- if I can call you Dwight -- if you're a real capital B believer in the classic sense, i.e., that I set the whole thing in motion, that I'm responsible until the end of time for the moment by moment clockwork operation of the whole mishigas -- then please don't forget that by your own definition I invented randomness, too. Chaos. Misfortune. Disappointment. And that I must have done so for a reason.

And I could tell you that reason, Dwight. I could. But then, as they say in the CIA, I'd have to kill you. Ha ha. Just kidding.

But I could if I had to. Seriously. You get the gist.

I work in mysterious ways, as you know. Take Susan Boyle. Please! Ha ha. Or OctoMom. What's up with that?

See Dwight, it's not like I don't have a sense of humor about this stuff. Especially sports. So I'll dip a toe in from time to time, just to stir things up; or look away at the right/wrong moment just to keep things lively. Rafael Nadal loses to Robin Soderling? A 23 seed? A Swede who looks like the bass player for a Branson, Mo., reboot of ABBA? In Paris?Bwaahaahahaha! Some people look at Calvin Borel and say "why?" I look at Calvin Borel and say "Why not?" Adriana Lima and Marko Jaric? An absolute platypus of a marriage, but mazel tov. Crazy kids. Talk about a miracle! BaBing! What a world.

If you're not laughing, you're crying. Am I right?

Of course I am.

Anyhoo, gotta scoot. Just remember, as Benjamin Franklin said, I help those who help themselves.

Trust this finds you well. Good luck.
-- G

Oops. P.S. My son wanted to tack on a quick note while I've got the laptop open ...

(D -- Got a favor to ask.

You know how it is with families. In My house there may be many mansions, sure, but only the one flat-screen. We're not made of money around here, after all -- just consider Paul's letter to Timothy. Be nice to splurge once in a while, I guess, but even Dad has to practice what I preach. So just keeping up with current events is tough during the playoffs. I have to watch the little set in the kitchen. And domestic peace is always at a premium, believe me, even in this household. So I'm a little behind on my current events. And while I try to remain studiously neutral on basketball, I am of course a soft touch for the lost cause, which is why I'm a Clippers fan and haven't been paying much attention.

Anyway, I just now heard from a friend that George Karl said I couldn't guard Kobe Bryant.

If you see him, would you please tell Mr. Karl in no uncertain terms that I could absolutelyguard Kobe Bryant. And tight. If I wanted to. But that I don't want to guard Kobe Bryant.

Wait. On second thought, don't tell him that. It looks pretty weird now that I write it out. Just tell him that Jesus guards and protects everybody equally, etc., etc.

Flip side, if you run into any Kobe haterz in your travels, remind them that vengeance is Mine, sayeth Me.

Hit me back. L8R, J.)

Jeff MacGregor is a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. Don't forget to submit your answers to his question: "What Are Sports For?" You can e-mail him at jeff_macgregor@hotmail.com.

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