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Should High Schools Teach Sports History?

Illustration: Elena Scotti (GMG)
FunbagTime for your weekly edition of the Deadspin Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag.

Today, we’re talking about poop, backspacing, Bob Ross, soft-boiled eggs, and more.

Your letters!

James:

Should we make sports history a curriculum in schools? I mainly think about this cause it can show how shitty some sports franchises have been to their cities and also show how society has sometimes been shaped by sports (i.e. Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, etc.). It can also show how crappy some teams have been and it’ll actually teach the rules to games so no more of this, “I don’t know what’s going on” takes!

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Is that not already a required course in Texas? I just figured every class in Texas was Texas High School Football History Appreciation 401 with Coach Chaw. No? Wow.

Seriously though, I don’t think we need sports history as part of a basic public school education. For something, a general history course will usually include certain facets of sports history. Sports are an important part of history but they don’t merit a spin-off class. Secondly, kids who want to learn about sports already PLAY them. That tends to take up a big part of your day.

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Finally, there’s more important shit to learn. I hate admitting this, but it’s true. I’m one of those insufferable asshats who believes that a balanced liberal arts education is the best way to go. That means sticking to nerdlinger subjects like math, art, science, English, history, and foreign languages. I don’t think it’s worth depriving any of those subjects time just so kids can learn a formal History of the NFL. It’s better, not to mention more enjoyable, to learn that shit on your own.

Everyone has their favorite subjects and everyone excels in different things, but I think it’s better to focus on making sure kids have a general, well-rounded education as a foundation rather than turning them into a bunch of little Howie Schwabs. As much as kids bitch about how they’ll never use math as adults, using a deep knowledge of the Sixers bench rotation history is even more unlikely.

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Thomas:

According to Forbes, the Redskins are the 5th most valuable team in the NFL. How is this possible? Their stadium is awful, the team hasn’t been good in 25 years, their nickname is racist, the owner is universally loathed, DC is full of transient fans of other teams, and many of the actual fans have stopped going to games. How does this add up to the Redskins being the 5th most valuable team in the NFL?

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First of all, never take those Forbes valuations as gospel because Forbes is garbage. Like Bleacher Report, they publish glorified comments as actual columns, and they determine franchise valuations by spinning a giant wheel in a conference room. Not only that, it behooves Forbes to jack up these imaginary price tags every year so that the numbers get picked up by other news outlets, and because it pleases NFL owners to know that fans will believe the owners are even richer men than they are, and because the fictional value of their shitty teams will work to boost the REAL value of those teams. This is because other stupid and impressionable billionaires are vying for the right to be a member of the club. Everyone wins?

Anyway, there are a lot of logical reasons as to why Skins are near the top of the value chart on an annual basis despite having the worst stadium in football. First of all, have you met these fans? I know they don’t always pack the stadium but they’re still around, and they’ve remained invested in the team despite the fact that Dan Snyder has owned it for the entirety of this century. All Snyder has done is run the team into the ground and stolen every bit of loose change out of your glove box. And yet many of those fans remain, and they’ll all be back if the team is ever good again, circa 2047. It’s an old team and the fanbase goes back generations. Listen to sports talk radio here anytime. It is ALWAYS 1991 here in D.C. They’ll be back.

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Also, like the Cowboys, the Skins have a host of independent sponsorship deals that keep their coffers full at all times. They’re married to FedEx, Budweiser, Pepsi, Bank of America, Papa John’s (naturally) and so many others. They also have their own lucrative deals for local TV preseason rights and Gabbin’ With Gruden filler shows, all in a market that covers multiple markets. You cannot avoid the Skins here, I assure you.

So when I tell you that Snyder will never change the name because of money, I mean it. It’s so deeply entrenched here that it’s appalling. Changing the Skins’ name means going back and reworking all of those deals, plus changing up all of the team merch that flows in and out of this area, and it’s a BIG area. This organization is far too lazy, too greedy, and too racist to do any of that shit. The Skins brand really is valuable, and it’s worth exploring how and why a team so nasty can end up being worth a mythical $3 billion in 2019. That isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of free-market dynamics.

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So yeah, the team is considered valuable for legit reasons, even if Forbes is a worthless messenger for such figures. If Virginia gifts Snyder a new stadium (and they’re stupid enough to do it), the Skins will be able to put down furniture in the top spot of Forbes’s bullshit list for the rest of Snyder’s life. Goody.

Michael:

Does the average American white-collar worker, who primarily sits in front of a computer all day, hit the backspace button more or less than 500 times in a given work day?

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LESS. Listen man, I write shit for a living, and even I don’t hit Delete or Backspace that often. That would require me to LOOK at my keyboard and then move my finger two inches more than it is accustomed to. Too much effort. If there’s a typo in my email, it’s fine. The other person will know I meant to say SHITBAG and not SHOTBAW. I ain’t going back. Too much work. I’m also too proud to surrender to the delete button. That’s an admission of failure. As far as I’m concerned, it’s good ENOUGH. I’m a great employee!

The internet and the physical act of typing and/or punching iPhone keys is reshaping how people both write and read. Half of Weird Twitter is chock full of intentional typos, and then there are people like me who rely too much on autocorrect to fix sloppy mistakes. It’s awkward, but it’s all part of a natural linguistic evolution. That evolution results in a form of online jargon that’s much messier than formal writing, and it has driven certain grammar purists to fucking madness:

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Whatever, Benjamin. Find something else to guard. Enjoy writing letters out on a Smith Corona and dying from Wite-Out fumes. The rest of us have lives to lead. Not a chance I hit that backspace button 500 times.

Zane:

I need you to settle a debate between my sister and me. I say water helps to reduce the stench of a turd and she says water amplifies it. I think she’s crazy but she does make a good point that farting in a shower does bring the stink to near lethal levels. Anyways, what say you?

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Do you shower underwater? Zane, you do not. There is still air in your shower, which allows for any flatulence to flow directly to your olfactory system as you gently soap up your nuts. The falling water does not conduct that odor like electricity. If only.

I tried a cursory Google search to locate a scientifically accurate answer to your question, and I came up empty. Will that stop me from concocting an answer of my own anyway and pretending it’s valid? FUCK AND NO. If you’re debating whether or not water inhibits the smell of human feces, go ahead and take a dump on a dry surface for comparison. I’ve taken a dump in the woods before and lemme tell you: there’s no escaping that smell. It’s everywhere. It’ll get you.

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Or walk a dog! My dog doesn’t shit in a toilet. He shits right there on the road. Again, the smell finds you. I pick it up with a bag and the smell follows me home. The plastic does NOTHING. Trust me, poop is best deposited into a toilet. If the water doesn’t block the smell, it sure as hell doesn’t make it worse. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go throw up.

Will:

Here’s the situation: you have to take a solo road trip from Bangor, Maine to Los Angeles (47 total hours of driving time). Your only two options for audio entertainment for the duration of the entire trip are:

1. Drive with the radio turned off and complete silence in the car. (You can still talk/sing out loud to yourself, but no phone calls or other human interaction).

2.Have a playlist of five songs of your choosing that will play on a continuous loop. You can adjust the volume as desired, but not so low that it’s inaudible/not-noticeable.

What are you choosing?

No music. I have three kids, so I cherish solitude whenever I happen to stumble upon it. I’m like Peter Stormare in Fargo where he goes mute on the roadtrip right up until he wants to go to Pancakes House. “I’m fuckin’ hungry now ya know.” I’ll take two days of monk-like quiet over being subjected to the same five songs a million times. Any song gets old if you listen to it enough. Nevermind came out 27 years ago and I’m STILL sick to death of it. When I go on long family road trips now and the kids are dicking around with screens in back, I leave the radio off and take advantage of the quiet while it’s still there.

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True story: I was fake kidnapped for a GQ story over six years ago, and the dude who arranged my staged abduction learned from, like, military personnel how to break captors and get them to give you what you want. At least, he claimed to have this training. Thus, as part of our little role-playing game, I was subjected to “Sweet Dreams” by Eurythmics, a song I already hated to begin with, on an endless loop. It was torture. Literally. They do this shit to prisoners in the real world and it’s a form of torture. Eventually, the kidnappers relented and put the best of Ice Cube on a loop. I liked this much better, but it still worn thin after hours on end. To this day, if I hear “Bop Gun,” I go right back to being trapped in a grubby basement outside Detroit, with my hands cuffed and my eyes blindfolded. Not a good memory.

So yeah, I’m driving without a soundtrack. Why listen to music when I can just SING all the way to California? You’d all like that, right? Right? Hey where are you going?

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Hank:

This was a joke on The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, but I want to know the real answer: How old is the oldest person who has never set foot off the island of Manhattan?

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The reigning Oldest Living Person in the world is currently Kane Tanaka, a Japanese woman who is an astounding 116 years old. Holy shit. Anyway, Tanaka has family here in the States, so it’s more than possible she’s visited Manhattan in the past and subjected herself to a Broadway musical. But she’s clearly never lived there.

After Kane, there are four other non-Americans at the top of the list before we get to American Maggie Kidd, who was born in 1904 and hails from Georgia. My highly educated guess is that the oldest person who has never set foot off the island of Manhattan is probably under 100, because people in other countries live much longer than us, and because they probably live that long specifically because they AVOID America. Step foot on American soil and you instantly lose two decades off your life expectancy. Much safer to live on some Greek isle and eat nothing but sautéed greens if you want to live to a robust age. So yeah, it’s probably some 86-year-old heiress who thinks New York is the center of the universe but hasn’t even bothered to venture past the Holland Tunnel.

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HALFTIME!

Kyle:

Are Tom Brady’s kids vaccinated?

I’m gonna say yes even though Brady is a certified L.A. moonchild when it comes to eating and living healthy, and he’ll probably die of thyroid disease five seconds after he retires because he won’t even eat iodized salt. I think Brady was busy studying defensive tendencies one day when a helper took his kids to the pediatrician for a checkup and a standard MMR vaccine. Then I bet Brady was informed of this and reacted with his standard blend of passive aggression. “Hmmm, I dunno if we should have done that. I was talking to Jim Carrey on the phone last night and HE said…” Shit like that.

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So I think Brady’s kids are vaccinated, but I doubt he’s super excited about it. My man needs to know the FACTS about these vaccines and hear from both sides before making his final call. Alex Guerrero probably has Brady’s cook (and Brady definitely has a home chef and has definitely given that chef a list of nutritional requirements that runs for 5,000 pages) preparing bread made only of almond skins for that whole family on a nightly basis. They’ll all die of scurvy but NOT measles. So that’s neat.

Dan:

If you could give an NFL franchise (let’s go with the Chargers since absolutely no one would miss them in LA) to a city without a team, which city would you give them to for maximum entertainment value? With the added caveat that it has to be a city that’s never had an NFL team before, sorry San Diego.

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The first one I’d pick is the one due for an NFL team a year from now, and that’s Vegas. I don’t think the Vegas Raiders will be appointment television, but they’ll churn out enough money and attract enough bachelor party attendees that locals will pretend to be as into the team as they are the hockey team. The Raiders will be the same tacky and garish mess they’ve always been, only this time they’ll be in the exact right setting for it. I’m excited for Derek Carr to blow off a practice, swear off church, and get heavily into drinking and legalized brothels. Gonna be a fun time.

Anyway, for maximum entertainment value, I would pick somewhere abroad like London, or Mexico City, or Munich, or Tokyo, or even Moscow. That way, I might get that bonus terrible early game from across the pond on occasion, plus I would get to read stories featuring anonymous players and execs bitching endlessly about travel and how playing in Helsinki affects ball pressure. I’d also get a minor kick out of Roger Goodell, who is so utterly devoid of charisma that it’s genuinely amazing that anyone knows who the fuck he is, playing Mister Ambassador and giving an opening statement at the Munich Steins’ new stadium that goes over like a dry fart.

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If I have to stick to the United States, I’m not picking a major metro area. Ooooh, Oklahoma City gets a team! Big fucking deal. I’m not interested in this team being SUCCESSFUL. I’m interested in the team being located somewhere that suits my selfish and extremely casual needs. That’s why I’m picking Nome, Alaska. I want the new team stuck somewhere cold and remote, so that every game has snow and so that every fan has to drive 8,000 miles to a stadium that’s located at the end of the fucking Earth. And I want the town of Nome to OWN the team so that the Packers can longer lay claim to being the only community-owned franchise located in a fucking icehole. Nome it is. The Nome Sled Dogs will rule the AFC West.

Chad:

If the average person went out and got all the right supplies (easel, canvas, good brushes, paint, etc.) could they follow along with Bob Ross during his show? Would the at-home painting end up looking as good as Bob’s? We’re 50-50 on this in the office. I say no way, but he makes it look so easy.

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Can you pause and rewind? No? You’re fucked. Not a chance. Bob Ross could paint that fast because he was Bob Ross, and because his show was edited down from a full shoot. If you’re trying to keep up in real time with little experience, you’d end up with that Monkey Christ fresco at BEST. More likely, you would end up with a gross dark blob on the canvas, and you would quit five minutes in to go get a beer. Could you cook along with Jacques Pepin in real time during one of his shows? Of course not. Leave the hard work to the MASTER.

I used to watch Bob Ross as a kid, mostly to laugh at his hair. But serious Rossheads watched that show because A) They were on drugs, B) It was relaxing, and C) Maybe you could pick up a trick or two about the skill, but not ALL of it. I learned how to chop onions by watching Jamie Oliver do it on TV. But I didn’t follow along with the entire recipe in one go. That would be madness. Tell your officemates they owe you a painting of a dog playing Texas hold ’em.

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Joey:

When was the last time you ate a soft-boiled egg? I had two of them for breakfast last weekend with a side of toast. If it’s been a while, my recommendation is cook a few up to treat yourself and your loved ones.

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I’ve started erring on the side of soft boiling eggs when I boil them, because the hard boiled yolks can get too chalky, and because I inevitably fuck up and am left with a hard-boiled egg that’s impossible to peel, with the white of the egg glued to the inside of the shell. Also, I fell prey to BIG RAMEN when I went to some nice ramen joint a while back and they included a soft boiled egg in my noodles. I was like WOW THIS PLACE IS FANCY! So now I boil eggs for eight minutes instead of ten, and the result is a fabled jammy egg (jammy is a horrible word) with a yolk soft enough to spread on toast, etc. They’re good eggs. I recommend them.

HOWEVER, I grew up with my mom warning me over and over that raw eggs would give me leprosy. So even though I like runny egg yolks, I still have a nagging voice inside telling me that they’re unsafe even though eggs have NEVER made me sick, not even once. So I like soft-boiled eggs, but I don’t trust them. They last half as long as hard-boiled eggs do in the fridge. One day, I’ll fuck up and eat a soft-boiled egg that’s been in there for too long, and then I’ll die of typhoid. Tell my mother I love her.

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By the way, now’s a perfect time to revisit a historically useless Twitter food war:

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Calm down, Egg Lad. It’s an egg. It’s, like, three bites. I don’t need a goddamn porcelain thimble for it. Peeling off the shell is work enough.

Justin:

What’s the worst NFL time slot in which to watch your team lose? Got to be Sunday Night Football, right? You stayed up way too late and tomorrow is Monday.

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Thursday is the worst because Thursday night is supposed to be fun. You’ve got a whole weekend up ahead, and now there’s FOOTBAW!!!! PARTAY!!!! Instead, you end up getting drunk watching a horrible football game, your team loses, and now you have no home team game of your own to look forward to during the weekend. A Thursday night loss basically ruins four nights, and everyone sees it. It’s not a pleasant affair. Everything I know about the Arizona Cardinals comes from watching them lose on Thursdays.

Eric:

Axl never met Slash. Guns N Roses never formed; their music never recorded. However, YOU just wrote Appetite for Destruction. You record it with some 40+ year old pals. It sounds exactly like the original. How successful is your album in today’s environment, given rock’s current place in the world and the fact that it’s by some lame suburban dads?

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It never sees the light of day. We’d never get anyone to listen to it. We’d never get signed. If anyone ever DID listen to it, they’d be appalled by both its lyrical content (by 2019 standards) and by my spot-on Axl screech. I mean, I remember hearing “Welcome to the Jungle” the first time in 1987 and hearing Axl sing and thinking it was a fucking joke. But everyone ended up taking that band seriously because the album was great and because Axl looked the part. He looked like a deranged bird swooping down to rip your guts out. I look like a rejected stock photo. You need the look and the attitude to match the sound.

Even if Drew N’ Roses got signed and the album came out for the masses, I don’t think anyone would give a shit in 2019. Getting people to care about rock of any kind is an uphill battle right now, and having me sing about a heroin addiction I don’t have isn’t gonna make the job any easier. I love The Struts and I believe that, if this were 1987, they’d be the biggest band on Earth right now. But it’s not 1987, and I need to get the fuck over it. Rock still has its place in this world but it’s not as big of a place as it used to be. And I’m not the right man to give it the cred it needs to win over all the fickle TEENS out there. Teens like Post Malone now. They’re fucking stupid. I’ll bash them on the head with a Stratocaster, I will!

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Email of the week!

Michael:

My grandfather was born in either 1914 or 1917, he didn’t remember as his parents altered his birth certificate when he was young so he could legally work in the family delicatessen. Being an original immigrant from Poland and living in Chicago most of his life I now realize he wasn’t exactly politically correct. He was already quite old when I was a kid and he used to pay me $20 to cut his grass every week, which was huge money for a 13 year old.

One Saturday after I was done cutting the grass he gave me an extra $10 and asked me to walk down the street to the local grocery store and buy him a loaf of “Dago Bread.” I had never heard of this before but was by no means a bread connoisseur so I marched right up to the bakery and asked for a loaf of dago bread. The guy behind the counter was definitely Italian and proceeded to berate me for what felt like a full minute before telling me to get the fuck out of his store. I went back to my grandpa’s in tears so I could give him his $10 back. He asked me what happened and after I told him he just told me to keep it. We never spoke about it again.

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I kinda want to know which bread he meant.

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About the author

Drew Magary

Drew Magary is a Deadspin columnist and columnist for GEN magazine. You can buy Drew's second novel, The Hike, through here.