Saturday, January 25, 2003

Old School or New School, Torn Slatterns or Nugget Ranchers?

Caffeine fueled Saturday morning rant:

What is with the latest sports cliche old school? Everybody wants to say they are old school. But in order for there to be an old school, there has to also be a new school. Right? To sum it up, old school is team oriented; new school is me oriented. Old school is in vogue right now, but both have advantages and disadvantages.

In football terms, old school was Sweetness himself, the late great Chicago Bear Walter Payton, and new school is the, uh, loquacious and tireless self-promoter Keyshawn Johnson. Now, Walter was much more beloved, respected and admired than Keyshawn will ever be. Walter was also much more banged up, played on more lousy teams and was paid far less than Keyshawn Johnson.

Everybody wants to say they are old school, but old school comes at a cost. Old school was a lot harder on the players physically and financially. Let’s face it, linebacker great Dick Butkus, the epitome of old school, got hosed by mean cheapskate Chicago Bear owner George Halas physically, financially, medically and legally. That’s about as extensive as a hosing gets.

The problem is that, once you declare yourself old school, there are people who will line up to take advantage of your selflessness. The problem with the new school is an apparent all or nothing trade from selflessness to selfishness. You can’t have both. You are either old school, Kellen Winslow going across the middle at all costs, or you are new school, Randy Moss who sees a possible career ending hit from a safety and suddenly gets a severe case of teeny weeny alligator arms.

Old school are tough guys. New school are cowards. Right? Not always. New school is looking out for their own. Is that wrong? How can you blame someone for taking care of their family? Even though he is a pain-in-the-butt primma donna, are the Minnesota Vikings going to take care of Randy Moss’ grand kids? No.

It’s hard to truly be old school now because there is too much money. Money is new school. Ask former Chicago Bulls three time ‘70’s NBA All Star Bob “Butterbean” Love. Was it fun for Love to have to bus tables in the early eighties at a Chicago Nordstroms cafeteria to make a living while the rich new school Bull players came in to lunch to gawk in shock? Probably not. Could Butterbean have used some of that new school money? You bet.

But it was the old school in Bob Love that drove him to overcome a severe stutter and go on to become an executive at Nordstroms, as well as a highly paid motivational speaker who is now running for office.

So you chose. Which are you, old school or new school? What am I? Let’s put it this way: The last time I went to get in my SUV, the automatic car door opener didn’t work and I nearly broke down and cried because I had to physically turn the key myself. You do the math.