Illustration: Jim Cooke (GMG)
FunbagTime for your weekly edition of the Deadspin Funbag. Got something on your mind? [Email the Funbag](mailto:funbag.deadspin@gmail.com).   

Today, we’re talking about Scott Van Pelt, rich assholes in space, flipping the bird, and more.

Your letters!

Chris:

Since we sleep for roughly 1/3 of our lives, would you rather sleep straight through from birth to... say 27 years old and then enjoy the rest of your 50+ years awake? Or would you want to be awake from birth and until age 58? Obviously this means that your life basically ends at 58.

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I guess the latter. Would you want to wake up as a 27-year-old infant? It’s not like you’d instantly have an intellect, or a personality. You wouldn’t even know how to wipe your ass. I think I’d rather go through the normal rituals of childhood and adolescence and then adulthood before going into a coma at 58. I was just IN a coma at age 42, so I’m playing with house money already. Another 16 years would be all right by me.

I’m clearly discounting what it would be like to grow up as a child who never sleeps. I don’t even know if you’d make it out of infancy without your parents going insane and selling you at a flea market. Sleep is portioned out in life for a reason. You need the rest, and the world needs a rest from YOU. A boy who never sleeps would be an incel redditor by age 12. You can’t have a normal life if life is always on. When it’s 4 a.m. and I can’t sleep, I despair because I feel like the world outside has died. I don’t want 58 years of feeling that every night. Still beats being a 6-foot-3 newborn though.

Maura:

Drew - I’m a high school sports coach. My question is... when did kids get so soft? I haven’t had a practice this fall with every player there - either they’re “sick” (doubtful); “tired” (we all are), or the parents scheduled something else for practice time (schedule was sent out in July). If I lose my temper for one second or raise my voice because they aren’t listening - the AD is getting calls and I get a warning. Who is going to toughen these kids up?!

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Maybe Tom Izzo? I know that other parents are the fucking WORST to deal with. My kid plays fourth-grade soccer and the coach gathered all the parents together at one practice last week and beseeched us to let him handle shoddy refereeing or dirty play from the opposing team. He was firm but totally fair about it. He also asked us that we not coach kids from the sideline. The league will actually boot you for doing this, one of many new rules they instituted because parents LAST year were apparently screaming “Meet me in Temecula!” in the parking lot to one another. Other parents are horrible and dealing with them is almost certainly more exhausting than dealing with the kids themselves.

The coach was cool about everything and didn’t bitch about kids getting soft as a result of these new regulations. Bitching about softness is a tired complaint that is routinely trotted out by wingnuts and apologists alike. Every generation believes that the generation that comes AFTER it is too soft. Meanwhile, we’re all gonna die when the atmosphere turns to pure sulfur thanks to those older generations. I guess they were tough enough to handle total oxygen deprivation? This is why it was disheartening to see people like Charles Barkley—famously levelheaded man Charles Barkley—and Scott Van Pelt rush to Tom Izzo’s defense and get MAD at people who were mad that Izzo was too mad.

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It’s no coincidence that Izzo was defended by guys who are themselves successful, well-off, and have the freedom to say what’s on their mind. It’s especially depressing to hear Van Pelt, a Maryland alum who just this fall openly joined the call for DJ Durkin’s ouster, go on about this shit. The new ESPN doesn’t like political commentary unless it’s red meat thrown directly to the kind of people who would threaten to boycott ESPN over too much political commentary (that they don’t care for). Barkley said, “When did we get to the point where every time a coach yells at a player it becomes a national emergency?” He apparently fears all this dreaded softness the way perhaps Maura here does. Like restaurant work, sports is a professional environment where everyone is expected—encouraged, even!—to be a fucking asshole. Give as good as you get, etc. I know this because I work in sports and I am an asshole. The coaches indoctrinate players into this culture, and it goes on and on.

The excuses are fucking tiresome. They frame Izzo’s methods as normal for him (Maybe they shouldn’t be? I’ve met good coaches who aren’t like that at all), normal for coaching in general (same issue), and they exonerate Izzo by pointing to his brilliant resume, another example of winning papering over a problem that won’t go away. Guys like Van Pelt are breathing WAY more life into the story than Izzo’s critics have.

I have lost patience with my children. I have raised my voice to them. I have explained that they don’t get to bail on shit just because they don’t WANT to do it. It’s perfectly fine to have expectations for your kids, or for your players, and be hard on them when they ignore those expectations. But there are ways to be a hard-ass that don’t involve blowing your fucking stack. And raging that the world has been pussified just because everyone saw you blow your stack helps NO ONE except for you. All of this behavior gets spun into tough coaching to make kids tougher because the world is tough, as if the process of just growing up won’t reveal the world’s difficulty to a child regardless. We’re in deep shit as a society BECAUSE people wanna look and act tough.

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So when you ask who will toughen the kids up … I dunno, does it have to be you? Life itself can probably take care of that shit. It’s a coach’s job to get kids to play and play well, not to turn them into the fucking Avengers. You can be firm but fair to achieve this. There’s more than one way to challenge people. There’s also more than one way to motivate them. If your players’ parents are coddling the kids and letting them bail on practice, well then I guess you gotta be like my kid’s coach and let those parents know that you have expectations for THEM too, and putting those expectations in to a mass email they can just trash won’t be enough. They all need rules, and they need to suffer reasonable consequences if they disregard them. NO ORANGE SLICES FOR ANYONE!

If they and their kids still won’t listen to you after that, well then I’m here if you wanna come roll your eyes all over again. I’ve been around long enough to know that liberal bureaucracy and helicopter parenting threaten to handcuff teachers and coaches no matter what they do. It’s annoying as shit. But hey man, it’s a tough world. You gotta be able to deal with it now, don’t you?

Eric:

Why does every rich asshole want to go to space?

Because they can and you can’t. Rich people have the means to do what the little people cannot, and so that’s all they want to do: go to space, ride around in tanks, throw caviar orgies, go to, uh, Orchids of Asia, etc. Besides, who doesn’t dream about being an astronaut? If you had the means to go to space, wouldn’t you consider it? Only a select few get to leave Earth’s orbit, so you get to experience the thrill of the cosmos AND the thrill of being part of such an exclusive club. That’s all primo rich guy shit. I still dream about going to space even though I would shit my pants and flee the gangplank before even getting on the rocket. Some things are best left as daydreams. I’m too beautiful to die.

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Justin:

I stupidly agreed to host my family for dinner on Saturday. I said I’d make something Italian. So give me your best sauce recipe.

I dunno if I’m the best guy to ask about this, given that I’m not Italian. I’m the shithead dad who performatively calls his marinara sauce “gravy” while everyone else in the house groans. I’m also on the record as using jarred sauce and not apologizing for it. I suck ass. Time to turn in my GOOMBA card! YOU-A NO LISTEN-A TO THIS-A SCUM!

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Anyway, if you gotta make GRAVY like you’re in the Goodfellas prison scene, I recommend the Scott Conant recipe linked here. Not a red onion to be had. Please note that I used canned tomatoes for this. I don’t boil them and then skin them because I’d rather live my life instead. I also don’t bother seeding the canned tomatoes, because I’m lazy. And I still break my pasta in half to fit it in the pot. WHATCHA GONNA DO ABOUT IT, SCOTTY?!

Doug:

If the selection committee picked Golden State and they played the tournament, obviously they would win, super convincingly. My question is: would any college team score ANY points on them?

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Oh yeah, they’d score. You’re not talking about a bunch of kindergarteners playing against the Warriors. These are still capable basketball players. They may lose by 60 but they’ll still get shots off. I have three feet on my son and he still scores on me when we play soccer and what not. Then he tells me to go 100 percent and I’m like BUT I ALREADY AM, MAN. What I’m saying is that your scenario is totally the same. No false equivalence on my end of any sort.

Also, the Warriors get bored anytime it’s NOT the third quarter of an elimination playoff game. So they’d definitely allow UCF to score a few pity buckets before running them over. It would be thrilling for 10 minutes and then it would be a massive letdown, not unlike the majority of tourney games so far. Would it KILL a top seed to fall on its ass? No wonder people like me won’t shut up about the Izzo thing.

Daniel:

I’ve never seen lines drawn in the sand like this. I think the SI hot dog article was exactly what it was called out to be. Didn’t everyone already understand that? Thoughts?

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My thought is that sponcon is rot. This is the part where I disclose that I have met the author of the hot dog story, Charlotte Wilder, on two separate occasions. We also went to same college (although I graduated roughly 97 years prior). She also contributed to this Deadspin post, so there’s that. None of that exempts Wilder’s story, along with other SI stories, from being recognized as unofficial product placement. The fact that Sports Illustrated was NOT paid by the Diamondbacks for that package (and they insist that they were not) is only more damning because they SHOULD have asked for a taste of the action. If you’re good at something, never do it for free, I guess.

And yet, Luis’s post from last week was greeted with a barrage of smarm from the likes of Bill Barnwell and from SI’s own Andy Staples. Sponcon is the norm. It’s been the norm for a while. How many times have you seen some cool video or gotten jacked up for your favorite star to announce something and that shit turned out to be a fucking brand stunt? Like I said yesterday, even the fucking Presidency is sponcon now. Just the other day, Philip Morris announced a synergistic marriage from hell with Vice in a deal worth £5 million ($6.58 million going by today’s exchange rates) to promote their vaping products, ostensibly to young customers, so that Juul won’t end up owning their shit. And the New York Times let professional war criminal Erik Prince onto their op-ed page one time to advocate for private mercenary work overseas (incredible coincidence that Prince does this for a living!). The Darren Rovelling of every public entity will never ebb. Brands have been aiming for this kind of normalcy for decades.

But just because sponcon is all over the place doesn’t mean you have to ACCEPT it as the way shit is done. Again, thinking certain shit is normal doesn’t mean it oughtta be. You especially shouldn’t accept this as normal if you’re Barnwell, or if you’re any other prominent writer who shouldn’t want any brands influencing any copy, either financially or by other means. If think branded content is all harmless good fun, then by all means YOU write a fucking thinly-veiled advertorial for your next assignment and see if you’re overjoyed about it.

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I worked in advertising for 10 years. My first big print assignment was a piece of sponcon for a porno mag (yes, people used to buy them). A check is a check, but sometimes readers wanna know you’re you, and that you’re not just a de facto shill for overpriced novelty products, or for some other far more sinister consumer good. Readers deserve to know this, especially if your byline runs in a national publication that posits itself as important. If you think this is just nitpicking, well then enjoy all that neato vapecon coming from Vice, or enjoy reading “journalism” underwritten by a fucking arms manufacturer. Brands already have WAY too much influence over things. If you don’t think that’s something to worry about, I hope you’re being compensated handsomely for your indifference.

On that note, another disclosure: Scott Conant paid me $37 million to link his recipe above. True story. I’m not made of stone.

HALFTIME!

Joe:

Give NFL coaches one more type of challenge. Hear me out. If a play happens that looks suspicious and doesn’t get called, the coaches have a new flag (orange?) they can throw that stops the game for exactly 30 seconds. Maybe 60. Either way, they have a short but finite amount of time to make a decision on whether or not the play is, in their opinion, worth an official review. They are allowed to do this once per quarter.

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I can’t go with you on this. The solution to the flag debacle is not to give coaches MORE flags to throw. I don’t want it to be like a fucking traffic light out there. More flags means more stoppages in play, and coaches would just fuck it up their pre-challenges anyway. How many times would Andy Reid confuse the orange flag and the red flag? Why should coaches be burdened with yet another strategic wrinkle in the game when they already have to manage so much shit?

I’m like Burneko in that I’m an old crank who has lost all faith in leagues to implement replay correctly. I’d rather it all just go away. If you don’t like a call, tough titty. NO SPECIAL TREATMENT FOR YOU, SNOWFLAKE. If the NFL wants to keep replay, they’re better off ditching challenges and just reviewing the shit that’s already automatically reviewed: scores, turnovers, anything that happens after the two-minute warning. I don’t want more rules in my rules.

David:

Flipping the bird: thumb extended or thumb tucked?

Tucked! I want to brandish the middle finger and ONLY the middle finger. I’m not holding up the Finnish “Hang Loose” sign or whatever. I just tried to flip the bird with an extended thumb and nearly tore a forearm ligament. It’s not comfortable. Besides, I want the rest of my hand to be a fist. That lets other drivers know that they don’t wanna mess with me and my Kia.

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Chris:

I live in a small apartment building, and one tenant gets a national newspaper delivered every day. Only these papers never get picked up or read. Five or six pile up each week before they’re thrown out. Is this a point where it’s acceptable to just grab one when I feel like it?

I wouldn’t. You probably think the person in that apartment is dead or on the lam, but God only knows if your neighbor is a deranged hermit WAITING for you to steal a copy of the Chattanooga Pilgrim-Dispatch so that they can open the door and shoot you in the face. Is risking that worth reading about a local man who lost his soup? I say it’s not. I’d tell the landlord you’re “concerned” about it or something. Why take action yourself when you can cravenly outsource that duty to others?

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The only way I’d take the papers is if you know your neighbor and you think they’d be fine with it. Sometimes I’ll grab amassed papers out of neighboring driveways so that evil burglars can’t tell that they’re away. This is the bravest act I can perform. I stole your paper, Bob. YOU ARE WELCOME.

Cameron:

You are driving home from the grocery store along a curvy mountain road. Suddenly, a cantaloupe in a plastic bag starts rolling around your back seat/trunk (suv trunk, not enclosed trunk). How long could you endure this before driving off the cliff?

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Five seconds? I’ll load my car at the grocery store and then cry out FUCK the second I hear one of those bags fall over after I take on a slight bend in the road. Drives me out of my fucking mind. Not only are plastic bags bad for the earth, but they’re incapable of standing alone. That means melons go rolling right out of one if I haven’t secured the bag by dumping five other grocery bags on top of it.

And yet, I never stop the car when this happens. I lied about being unable to withstand the racket for more than five seconds. Instead, I drive all the way home and I seethe. In that moment, I’m nearly as angry on the road as every other Maryland driver. NORMAL.

Andrew:

What present-day foodstuff would you bring to a medieval king to show him how amazing Future Food is? You can heat it up, but you can’t do any actual cooking. The answer is some really good pizza, right?

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The answer, of course, is Bud Light. What medieval king doesn’t enjoy drinking shitty beer, coining a nonsensical catchphrase from it, and then strangely droning on for months about that same beer’s nutritional value? NOT A ONE.

I don’t think you can get fancy if you’re time-traveling with future food because there’s a good chance that people from the Dark Ages will think our food is fucking repulsive. You’re talking about people with the palate of a six-year-old. Sushi would make them run. They thought grapes were big shit back then. Grapes are NOTHING to us. We boil grapes down into jelly, we think so little of them. They also thought tomatoes were poisonous, so you’d get thrown into the iron maiden if you strolled into the King’s court with a Papa John’s delivery box.

I would give the king something that looks futuristic but is also somewhat familiar so that he wouldn’t have me beheaded. There are certain high-end food stuffs that have never gone out of style: caviar, fancy seafood, beef, etc. Here’s a dude narrating tableside service of wagyu beef at Alinea. Please do not audition to be a Youtube star at a fine dining establishment, but DO bring this before His Majesty to blow his nuts off.

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Ron:

Have you ever talked to a couple who thought the food at their wedding sucked? I haven’t.

The couple at a wedding represent the two least reliable people to ask about the food. They picked the food, so they’re predisposed to liking it. They or someone close to them had to PAY for that food, so they’re even more predisposed to liking it after that. Also, I’ve said this before, but you’re so full of adrenaline at your own wedding that the food hardly matters. You gotta dance. You gotta meet and greet 100 people. And then you gotta then find time to sneak away for a quick fuck in the Honeymoon Suite. I’m surprised more weddings don’t feature the groom housing a burger right at the altar, just for the sake of expediency.

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By the way, my wife and I had an open buffet at our wedding. I strongly recommend it. Not only can you eat all you like (and I made time to), but you don’t have to wait for your food, nor do you have to fuck around with meticulous table charts and all that shit. We even had sausage and beans. I farted for months on end.

Brian:

What is the daddest conversation topic? Home prices in places you visited once but will never move to? Kids not writing in full sentences in text messages?

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Brian, it’s tax season. There’s no finer dad topic than taxes. I could huddle with my dad friends and swap tax tips for hours on end. In September! Are you writing off your toner expenses? That might count toward your home office deduction, bro! So much fun. All I do now is talk about tedious old man bullshit: taxes, politics, football, Metallica, back problems, Tom Izzo, etc. I haven’t talked about anything new in, like, 17 years. I’m fun to be around.

Chris:

Everything will be better when the Boomers die, right? Please tell that it’s true and they are the absolute worst.

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It’s not true. First of all, there’s likely no way to reverse global warming, so you’re dead no matter what, all because of what older generations have wrought. So that’s nice. Second of all, just as old people blame young people for all of society’s ills—MILLENNIALS KILLED TOUGHNESS!—young people blame old people right back for the same shit. You can kill off all the Boomers and there would still be plenty of younger assholes alive to ruin everything. Where do you think they learned all their bad habits from? Ted Cruz is 48. Jack Dorsey is 42. Donald Trump Jr. is 41. Chris Brown is 29. Logan Paul is 23. Shitbaggery knows no age group, and the simple passage of time doesn’t guarantee that mankind will get its shit together.

Also, don’t forget that you live in a time of relative plenty compared to the rest of history. Medieval kings would KILL for grape juice boxes. You can buy them at the store for just a few bucks. No genocide of the elderly required. Now ain’t that some shit?

Email of the week!

Russell:

My first year out of college I roomed with a good friend from college in an apartment in Brooklyn. Neither of us had a good grasp on the laundry thing, so we would often raid each other’s tee shirt supplies, and I know he would occasionally grab athletic socks from me.

So I wake up for work one day and realize that I don’t have any dress socks ... so I run down to his room, where he has a sock drawer with socks organized by color and perfectly folded. Freshly showered, I sit down on his bed to pull on a pair of socks ... and this horrible smell of body odor hits me. I sniff myself, all the while thinking “it can’t be me, I just showered” ..

But I still catch the smell ... it’s so strong and brutal .. his room is perfectly clean, there are no sneakers around ... when I realize ... it’s the socks that I have just borrrowed. Horrified, I take them back off and wash my feet and go to work.

When I confront my roommate about it later .. “Hey dude, you put a stinky pair of socks back in your drawer by accident” ... he admits to me that he WEARS HIS SOCKS THREE OR FOUR TIMES BEFORE HE WASHES THEM!!!! AAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH

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