Light is Right Joe Campbell

“You weren’t loud enough,” Molder said. “You should have been on your feet yelling like the rest of us.”

“The quarterback was having a hard time making himself heard,” Bimson replied. “I didn’t want to add to his difficulties.”

“That’s what the home team fans are for.”

“We’re supposed to drown out the quarterback whenever the visitors have the ball?”

“Absolutely,” Molder said. “When the home team fans aren’t loud enough to disrupt the visiting team’s communications, some stadiums pipe in recorded crowd noise to help out.”

“I thought football was about strategy, skill and power,” Bimson said.

“It is,” said Molder. “The fans who yell the most strategically, skillfully and powerfully give their players an edge.”

“But football is a team sport,” Bimson said. “It’s not a fan sport.”

“The fans are part of the team,” Molder replied. “In Canadian football we call them the thirteenth man.”

Molder had been teaching Bimson the finer points of sports etiquette and practice. Golf came next. But shortly after the game started, a security guard escorted Bimson from the links.

“You should have stood silently like the rest of us,” Molder said when they met later.

“The visiting golfer was putting from the edge of the green,” Bimson replied. “I yelled to distract him.”

“Putting from a distance requires deep concentration.”

“So does distracting from a distance,” Bimson said. “I wanted to help my teammate.”

“What do you mean your teammate?”

“I was the second man.”

“Your conduct was unsportsmanlike,” Molder said. “You gave the local golfer an unfair advantage.”

“You gave the home team an unfair advantage at the football game.” Bimson replied.

“Yes,” Molder said, “but my intervention was allowable. Your interference wasn’t.”

“Whatever you call it, I don’t see how unsportsmanlike conduct can be allowable in some situations and not in others.”

“Look at it this way,” Molder said. “If you’re an elected politician and you want to defame your opponents, you can libel them inside Parliament legally or outside illegally.”

“Legal or not,” Bimson said, “it’s still defamation, and allowable or not, giving a favoured competitor an unfair advantage is still unsportsmanlike.”

“I said I’d teach you sports etiquette,” Molder replied, “not sports ethics.”

To spare his friend further public embarrassment, Molder taught the rest of the course in his family room.

“Now, let me get this straight,” Bimson said, after spending an afternoon studying video highlights from different sports. “Strikeouts in baseball are not the same as knockouts in boxing.”

“Very good,” Molder said. “A strikeout doesn’t end the game, but a knockout ends the match.”

“And base hits in each are also different.”

“There are no base hits in boxing,” Molder said.

“What about hits below the belt?”

“We call them low blows.”

“To avoid confusing boxing with baseball, no doubt.”

“It’s as good a reason as any.”

“In baseball, hockey, golf and tennis,” Bimson said, “the contenders swing weapons aimed at launching missiles.”

“I suppose you could say that.”

“But in boxing they swing fists aimed at launching each other.”

“I can’t disagree,” said Molder.

“Injuries occur in all sports,” Bimson said.

“Regrettably, they do,” said Molder.

“In golf, basketball, baseball, football, hockey, soccer and tennis the intention is to sink balls, hit runs, make touchdowns, score goals and cause opponents to miss shots. Any injuries are unintentional.”

“If intentional, they’re abusive and draw penalties.”

“From what you’ve shown me, “Bimson said, “professional wrestling entails intentional injury.”

“Only if the script writers come to blows,” said Molder.

“What about boxing?” Bimson asked. “Surely you can’t deny that professional boxers injure each other intentionally.”

“They do,” Molder said, “but it’s consensual.”

“Whatever you call it, I don’t see how abuse can be allowable in some situations and not in others.”

“Look at it this way,” Molder said. “If you don’t mind degrading women, you can take multiple wives in Saudi Arabia legally or in Canada illegally.”

“Legal or not,” Bimson said, “polygamy is still degrading.”

“Not in Saudi culture.”

“And consensual or not, intentionally injuring an opponent is still abusive.”

“Not in boxing culture.”

“I don’t see how particular cultural norms can trump universal natural laws.”

“I said I’d teach you sports practice,” Molder replied, “not sports philosophy.”