The IX: Basketball Wednesday with Howard Megdal, May 25, 2022
The craven ghouls who helped us arrive here.
It was Tuesday evening, a heavy WNBA schedule, I love the sport and cover it. So I sat down to watch. I didn’t flip over to a channel with poor Fred Gutenberg, who will have a guest spot on TV for the rest of his life, thanks to a steady stream of senseless school shootings that will continue unabated until the craven ghouls in place specifically to block progress are forcibly moved out of the way by an overwhelming democratic wave. It is easy to see him and know it could be me.
I noticed that the Dallas Wings, for their success, are doing it without much in the way of contributions, or even playing time, for Teaira McCowan, another single-digit minutes total for the player Greg Bibb built his offseason around. Will it all work? Is there conflict ahead between the way Vickie Johnson clearly intends to play and the roster Bibb has given her? Right now, it’s working. If that changes… well, I’m watching.
My younger daughter came into the living room. I didn’t tell her about the massacre in Texas, perpetrated by another in an endless series of gunmen who have easy access to mass murder tools because there is an entire political party whose power stems from scaring enough people into racing to buy it all and voting to protect themselves from ever having to give those weapons up. I squeezed her tight, kissed her goodnight, careful not to overdo it, trying to find that balance between staying in the moment and alerting her to the dangers of this moment writ large. I’ll send her to school in a mask today because some of the same craven ghouls prioritized not wearing a mask or getting a fucking life-saving elixir over the health of all of us.
Rhyne Howard, 0-for-9 you say? Must be Alysha Clark. I asked in The Next Slack. Indeed, Alysha Clark. Never change, Alysha Clark.
My older daughter came into the living room. We talked about what happened in Texas. She is on social media. There is no protecting her from that information. I want to tell her how to stay safe, but what can I possibly say? Find a good hiding spot? The killer overpowered police and went classroom to classroom. We’ve enabled people like him to purchase body armor and massively lethal guns and cannot even slow someone like him down, knowing he is headed toward a school for mass murder. Should she run? Should I pull her out of school entirely? When I do that occasionally — she is my travel partner for baseball or basketball games in the afternoons when I can convince my wife a ballpark or an arena is as useful as a classroom — there is part of me that is relieved she won’t be in a place people keep arriving to murder children.
We watch Emily Engstler continue to show herself entirely comfortable in this league — her defensive rebounding percentage would be the 34th-best in WNBA history, somehow, as a rookie wing, and then we see Han Xu‘s heroics for the Liberty fail to overcome the late-game execution of a Cheryl Reeve Lynx team. It’s time for her to go to bed, and I don’t want to send her. It feels, so often, like the only place she is safe is right there with me, in the living room, watching a league that we both love.
No sense in her being in mortal danger and tired, too. I tell her to stay alert — what else is there? She’s off to bed and my wife, a teacher, comes in teary-eyed from the series finale of “This Is Us” as I watch Herschel Walker, a potential U.S. Senator from Georgia who would bring us further away from the impossibly high 60-vote standard we’d need to do anything legislatively on guns, say this:
What is there to say? I remind her what I know to be true, which is that as unconscionably often as this happens, it represents a tiny percentage of all schools. The doomsayers on Twitter, claiming it is a matter of time until it happens to all of us, are, of course, mathematically wrong. My wife will retire someday — sooner than later, frankly, in a country that vilifies teachers while failing to protect them, another great educator the system will lose before it should as a result — and my children will graduate, move on to other parts of American life. Those places will not be safe from gun violence either, of course.
It’s easy to believe nothing will change because nothing has. Believing this, will, of course, perpetuate it. We walk upstairs. I watch some highlights — 90 points in Chicago is an awfully impressive performance for the Indiana Fever. I consider how strange it was to let Moriah Jefferson go from Dallas for nothing. I wonder how long Sami Whitcomb‘s shooting slump needs to be before it is statistically significant. I check the GOP primaries around the country to see whether November means Republican candidates who win will continue to allow senseless slaughters, or Republican candidates who win will do that and overturn elections as well.
I hold my wife close and, in the morning, I let her go, very reluctantly. Then it’s time to take my children to school and count the minutes while I work until it is time to pick them up, time that I know will go slower than usual today. I won’t wish any of it away, I will take pleasure in the people and pursuits I love, I will work for better outcomes for us all. I will imagine what should be unimaginable every time the phone rings.