FanDuel - WFBC

July 09, 2008

The Day Cool Died: Phil Taylor's essay on the demise of Cool in sports.

posted by cjets to general at 02:52 PM - 35 comments

I couldn't agree more with Taylor. The only culprits Taylor omits are the media (specifically ESPN and FOX Sports) who are, no doubt, accomplices in the death of Cool.

posted by cjets at 02:54 PM on July 09

I don't disagree with the conclusion, but I completely disagree with the way he gets there. As a completely biased Celtics fan, I'm lost as to how Kevin Garnett's enthusiasm for his sport is anti-cool. What's killed Cool is everyone trying to be hipper-than-thou by acting as if they don't care about anything and always worrying what other people will think before they ever express an opinion, which results in the watered-down, tepid sound bites we get now. Saying Magic was Cool but Garnett isn't is Old Man talk at best ("In my day . . . ") and reminiscent of Do the Right Thing at worst. Tom Landry looked nice on the sidelines. I loved him as a kid. He might be the last person I'd ever think of when coming up with personifications of Cool.

posted by yerfatma at 03:00 PM on July 09

Cool seems to mean unemotional to Taylor. That's the only way that Landry could be cool. I thought Garnett's enthusiasm was a little much. (yerfatma: I think he was saying Magic was the beginning of the end of cool.) What is killing cool is sportwriters who criticize anyone who is honest and says things like, I thought we should win, we were the better team. Self-confidence (which is cool) is now criticized for arrogance. Also, the fact that athletes are supposed to take this all so seriously is a bit uncool as well.

posted by bperk at 03:21 PM on July 09

I thought Garnett's reaction, discussed in an earlier Spofi post was way over the top. But I can understand why a Celtics fan might have an issue with that. The reason I agree with Taylor's column is as Taylor puts it because of the "thousands of ... modern-day athletes who have an overwhelming need for self-congratulation and a tendency to overdramatize." Every WR who needs to celebrate a first down catch (not to mention Chad Johnson), every choreographed TD dance, enough already. As every coach I ever played for used to say: "Act like you've been there before." Saying Magic was Cool but Garnett isn't is Old Man talk at best Actually he's saying the opposite, that Magic was the beginning of the end for Cool. Only in retrospect is it clear when Cool began to hit hard times. In the opener of the 1979–80 NBA season, the Lakers beat the San Diego Clippers on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's buzzer-beating hook shot. Abdul-Jabbar was the kind of Cool customer who would hit a game-winner, stroll off the court and go put on a Miles Davis album. But this was the pro debut for Magic Johnson, the league's No. 1 pick. Magic jumped on Abdul-Jabbar and wrapped him in a bear hug, surprising the captain but charming the fans with his joy. No one knew it then, but Cool was doomed. ON PREVIEW: What Bperk said about Magic

posted by cjets at 03:27 PM on July 09

I guess I know of at least one guy who wasn't ripping on Ladanian Tomlinson for sitting on the bench while injured last year.

posted by LionIndex at 03:28 PM on July 09

Sorry, I parsed the Magic thing backwards. It's just Old Man disease if his measure of cool is still people who listen to Miles Davis*. I thought Garnett's reaction, discussed in an earlier Spofi post was way over the top. Sure, it probably was. What I liked was his passion throughout the year and the natural enthusiasm. The screaming and "Oh, I've Caught the Vapors" act after the Game 6 win was silly, but no more silly than sticking a mic in the guy's face and expecting Voltaire to come tumbling out. The most memorable thing Kareem ever said was scripted for him in Airplane! * I own Kind of Blue and a couple of Trane/ Davis bootlegs, etc. There's nothing wrong with that, but my Cool Meter says people who tell you about their jazz collection aren't necessarily the heppest cats any more.

posted by yerfatma at 03:36 PM on July 09

It's just Old Man disease Get off my lawn!

posted by cjets at 03:40 PM on July 09

And I'll give Garnett this. At least it was spontaneous.

posted by cjets at 03:41 PM on July 09

Every WR who needs to celebrate a first down catch (not to mention Chad Johnson), every choreographed TD dance, enough already. I'm not sure of that. That kind of flamboyance is okay. I thought Deion Sanders was definitely cool. No one is going to call Marvin Harrison cool. It's just Old Man disease if his measure of cool is still people who listen to Miles Davis*. That's just crazy talk.

posted by bperk at 04:06 PM on July 09

No one is going to call Marvin Harrison cool. Bet you wouldn't say that if he had that FN Five Seven in his hand. Seriously though, I don't think he's talking about boring guys. Here's his list of cool guys: Tom Brady, Joe Montana, Clyde Frazier, Michael Jordan. I'll add two more that come to mind: Derek Jeter and Jerry Rice(maybe it helps to be the best of the best of world class athletes). You wouldn't confuse any of these guys with Marvin Harrison. I think you can play with emotion and passion without wearing your heart on your sleeve or other histrionics. As he puts it: Cool became confused with Bland and Uninterested. Now it's not the player who bashes in the occasional watercooler who's criticized, it's the one who doesn't. And we'll just have to agree to disagree about Deion. I may respect his ability as an athlete but I hate him. I hated him when he played. I hate him as an analyst. Now, really, Get off my lawn!

posted by cjets at 04:37 PM on July 09

You know what's not cool. Talking about cool in sports and not mentioning the coolest game on earth. I kept waiting for Mr. Taylor to mention the two coolest athletes I've ever seen, Gordie Howe and Bobby Orr.

posted by tommytrump at 05:48 PM on July 09

From the article: Authorities say that Garnett will not be held responsible for the demise of Cool, ruling that he was no more culpable than thousands of other modern-day athletes who have an overwhelming need for self-congratulation and a tendency to overdramatize. Those seem to be Taylor's two main factors in the death of Cool: the belief that your sporting event (or moment in a sporting event) has some major significance in human history, and the belief that you, yes you, are the one who made it all happen. I think he's got a point.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:13 AM on July 10

the belief that your sporting event (or moment in a sporting event) has some major significance in human history Shut down this site then. I don't think many sports fans expect sports to show up in history books (except when they do) and it takes a great act of obtuseness to imagine it otherwise. It's like the people who get a hair across their ass about the name "World Series". the belief that you, yes you, are the one who made it all happen Not sure I follow. KG was something on the order of 20% of what made that Celtics win happen.

posted by yerfatma at 08:23 AM on July 10

I agree with Taylor's assertion that cool has died. There are very few "cool" athelets out there anymore. It's all about the money and the individual. Celebrating a 1st down catch is not cool - it's your job so catch the ball and get back to the huddle. Choreographed TD dances are definitely not cool. Barry Sander and Emmitt Smith were the epitomy of cool. After a TD run or catch, they'd simply hand the ball to the ref and move on. It was their job and they knew it. As someone else pointed out - "act like you've been there before". "Cool", is caring more about the team than yourself. In individual sports like golf or tennis - I think "cool" is the personal understanding of ones accomplishments without having to throw it everyones face. Bjorn Borg, Jack Nicklaus and Arnie Palmer come immediately to mind.

posted by DvonR at 09:02 AM on July 10

Celebrating a 1st down catch is not cool - it's your job so catch the ball and get back to the huddle. Tell that to Roy Williams. He celebrates every single first down catch. Then again, that is usually the best thing he has to celebrate all game.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 09:05 AM on July 10

I'll add two more that come to mind: Derek Jeter and Jerry Rice(maybe it helps to be the best of the best of world class athletes). Derek Jeter popped into my mind as well. We will have to disagree about Rice though. Jerry Rice is just a tad too country to be cool. In individual sports like golf or tennis - I think "cool" is the personal understanding of ones accomplishments without having to throw it everyones face That would preclude Muhammad Ali from being cool. I think Ali might rank up there among the coolest of them all.

posted by bperk at 09:44 AM on July 10

"And what is good, Phædrus, And what is not good . . . Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?"

posted by yerfatma at 09:49 AM on July 10

Cool in sports died the day that the last fu manchu was shaved off in the late '70s by an Oakland athlete.

posted by NoMich at 09:49 AM on July 10

I read the article in my son's copy of SI last night. It seems to me that Mr. Taylor is confusing a change in social mores and accepted behavior with something he defines as "cool". I'm old enough to remember when it was considered rude and unsportsmanlike to exult over one's triumphs in the immediacy of the event. The accepted behavior was to congratulate one's opponent on a match well played and to retire to privacy. Any celebration was done away from the playing field, and even though locker room celebrations might have been televised "back in the day", they were not rubbing their opponent's face in it. Over time, and with growing media coverage of all things sport, it has become more common for a player to demonstrate his pleasure at a victory. I don't feel the basic idea of celebrating is wrong, as long as one is not talking trash or belittling the other player. What bothers me is the excessive celebration for even the least of achievements. Tackling a receiver following a 15-yard completion for a first down is not my idea of of an event worth celebrating. We see far too much of this. Kevin Garnett's spontaneous shout of "anything is possible" was more an expression of fulfillment after years of failure than it was a lack of "cool".

posted by Howard_T at 10:25 AM on July 10

yerfatma: Shut down this site then. I don't think many sports fans expect sports to show up in history books (except when they do) and it takes a great act of obtuseness to imagine it otherwise. I think Taylor's point was that many modern athletes seem to be suffering from just that type of obtuseness, i.e., they think their victories are much more significant than they really are. Whether he's right about that is another matter, but I think that's the point he's trying to make.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:57 AM on July 10

remember when it was considered rude and unsportsmanlike to exult over one's triumphs in the immediacy of the event many modern athletes seem to . . . think their victories are much more significant than they really are First of all, the significance of any event is attached to personal context. Second of all, these athletes (in general) have busted their ass since grade school to get to the top level of competition, busted their ass all season, sucked it up on back-to-back nights after plane flights, etc. to get to where they are. And where they are is in an arena with 10,000+ screaming fans, a furry on a motorcycle, fireworks and some dumbass on a mic who can't say anyone's name without shouting. If, at the conclusion of a long, successful season, someone jams a microphone in your face and asks if this is the greatest achievement in human history, it's understandable when the athlete doesn't stop, take a breath and say, "Be real, Ms. Tafoya, there are people out there suffering on less than a dollar a day", etc.

posted by yerfatma at 11:31 AM on July 10

That would preclude Muhammad Ali from being cool. I think Ali might rank up there among the coolest of them all. Agreed. I know this contradicts the article and what I said earlier, but Ali just made it work. Maybe because of his principled stand against the Vietnam war, maybe because he's the exceptio that proves the rule. But he definitely was among the coolest.

posted by cjets at 11:36 AM on July 10

Barry Sander and Emmitt Smith were the epitomy of cool. After a TD run or catch, they'd simply hand the ball to the ref and move on. It was their job and they knew it. Actually Emmitt Smith didn't do that at all. He saved every touchdown ball for his own collection as a tribute to his greatness (or something along those lines, but give it to the ref? Nah, never happened.)

posted by justgary at 12:02 PM on July 10

...in an arena with 10,000+ screaming fans, a furry on a motorcycle, fireworks and some dumbass on a mic who can't say anyone's name without shouting... yerfatma, this is my point exactly. The increased media coverage, particularly the immediacy of live television coverage of nearly everything, has caused nearly every event to be over-hyped, glorified into apocalyptic proportions, and exulted as truly an experience for the ages. This atmosphere then rubs off onto the players. Let's not forget that many of those on the field are not wise and mature old men. They are kids, some in their teens, and they are, in a word, excited. I can understand how adrenalin is a greater determinant of their behavior than any coaching they might have received. Is "cool" really dead? I think not. Every once in a while you will see a player do something outstanding and make only the simplest of acknowledgements that he or she has actually done something good. The spirit is still there, and it could be revived if only we (and those who make fortunes from the electronic picture box in your living room) would stop rewarding the outlandish behavior that is fostered by artificially heightened promotions.

posted by Howard_T at 12:11 PM on July 10

Yeah, and I'm sorry I'm being a dingus, I just can't stand articles like this. My default assumption is the author has lost his passion for the sport (or art or whatever) and is blaming the field instead of accepting his interests have changed. Sticking to Boston, I can think of a handful of athletes I think would come close to the author's definition of cool.

posted by yerfatma at 01:15 PM on July 10

No one is going to call Marvin Harrison cool. Not unless he was the shooter in Philly. That would make him violent-cool. Actually Emmitt Smith didn't do that at all. He saved every touchdown ball for his own collection as a tribute to his greatness... And that makes Emmitt, Nostradamus-cool since he was able to predict that he was going to be the NFL's All-Time leading rusher and saved his TD balls. Uber-cool!

posted by BornIcon at 02:49 PM on July 10

And that makes Emmitt, Nostradamus-cool since he was able to predict that he was going to be the NFL's All-Time leading rusher and saved his TD balls. He was a star in middle school, high school, college, and a number one pick. Didn't have to be nostradamus to know he'd have a good career. Not sure where you're getting the idea that he had to be NFLs leading rusher to save his touchdown balls.

posted by justgary at 04:21 PM on July 10

Back in the late 70s, I used to think Viv Richards, the West Indian Test cricketer, was one of the coolest guys around. Calm demeanour, steely nerves facing fast bowling, but brutal with the bat when he wanted to be. And he wore rasta coloured wristbands, just to show he was one of the people. I took my then girlfriend to the cricket in Sydney, and pointed Viv out to her. Her only comment? "He reminds me of my grandfather."

posted by owlhouse at 06:14 PM on July 10

Didn't have to be nostradamus to know he'd have a good career. Good career? Emmitt had a GREAT career while with the Cowboys!! My point about him saving his TD balls is because somewhere inside of him, he knew that he would not only be the NFL's all-time leading rusher but also that he would have the most TD's for a RB (with 175). That makes him cooler than the other side of the pillow.

posted by BornIcon at 06:55 AM on July 11

Wow...using a Stuart Scott catchphrase in a discussion about "coolness." The irony is quite thick. Also, wasn't Emmitt Smith (allegedly) the reason for the NFL's "No Taking Your Helmet Off After You Score A Touchdown" Rule? I think he was; otherwise, why would they refer to it as "The Emmitt Smith Rule?" Barry Sanders, though, I'll agree with; I never saw much emotion out of him, no matter what he did on the field.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 09:51 AM on July 11

Barry Sanders, though, I'll agree with; I never saw much emotion out of him, no matter what he did on the field. That makes him cold as ice. *shiver* As for Emmitt, the No Fun League also made a rule after a touchdown that a team cannot celebrate together either, ala the 'Greatest Show on Turf', St. Louis Rams. The rules & regulations that they've come to terms with are just ridiculous. These guys are killing themselves out on that field, let them have a little bit of fun, will ya?

posted by BornIcon at 10:46 AM on July 11

As for Emmitt, the No Fun League also made a rule after a touchdown that a team cannot celebrate together either, ala the 'Greatest Show on Turf', St. Louis Rams. Actually, that rule came about because of Washington's "Fun Bunch."

posted by The_Black_Hand at 08:18 PM on July 13

I do remember that but the St. Louis Rams also were dealt with a ban from the No Fun League. Here

posted by BornIcon at 07:41 AM on July 14

I don't remember who made the original quote. When you score or make a big play, act like you've been there before. That's cool walk off like its just another play.

posted by m8nsman at 08:32 AM on July 14

What exactly is the big problem with celebrating a touchdown anyway? I understand limiting anything that is threatening or demeaning to the other team or their fans, but beyond that, I can't see any reason why celebrations should be outlawed. Sport is entertainment. The players are there to entertain the fans. If they do a dance and it's entertaining, that enhances the experience. The celebrations that get to me are the stupid ones. And what is so wrong with the players showing some emotion or having some fun when they accomplish what (i.e. a touchdown) the other team has been trying to prevent them from doing?

posted by bender at 10:24 AM on July 14

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.