Who loves ya?
Both arguments have validity and, like all rules governing human behavior, both arguments have an arbitrary side that ignores reality. Like a lot of things, this debate reminds me of an incident.
Long, long ago in the grand ballroom of a Hilton hotel in a city far, far away, my doubles partner and I had just stepped to the number one pit table at a national-caliber fussball tournament. First place for this tournament was several hundred (1970's) dollars--a decent payday for a couple of Gypsies. This particular match would decide the winner's bracket, which meant the winner of this game would advance to the finals with a huge advantage over whomever they met there as the winners of the loser's bracket--tournaments were double-elimination, so if you lost once you played through the loser's bracket and could still win the tournament, but you'd have to win all the rest of your matches beating the winners of the winner's bracket twice in the finals. So this match was big. It was doubly big, however, because we had history with our opponents--we had bad blood.
In the fussball world, these guys were a big deal. Between them they had, like, three national championships. They had factory sponsorship with matching polo shirts and nary a hair out of place. They were the consummate tournament professionals.
We were not.
We were back-alley professionals. We made most of our money gambling in bars before, during and after the big-time tournaments. During one of the more memorable of these nefarious gambits, my partner and I ripped those polo shirts right off the fucking backs of these two big-time players. We did it by exploiting the very thing that was their trademark--professionalism.
My partner was what is technically referred to as a real mouthy piece of shit. He had a real talent for quickly finding ways to get under people's skin and then he'd go there to the breaking point. It wasn't just a talent with him, it was pure genius. It came naturally and flowed freely. He had what you'd call a rapier wit. And he got to these guys. He got to them in a big way. It took him just a few seconds to figure out that these guys were not only used to deference, they needed it. We made more than money that night. We made a couple of life-long enemies. They made sure we understood that things would be much different the next time we met in a tournament. You see, in sanctioned tournaments you really had to behave yourself--cursing, taunting or fighting would get you DQ'ed, sanctioned, suspended or banned from the tour.
When we walked to the table to start the match, I knew we could beat these two, but I knew it would be a fight and I wondered why my partner had such a big shit-eating grin on his face. I was just glad to see that my forward was feeling good and feeling confident--turns out, he had already hedged our bet.
No sooner had our opponents won the opening coin toss than the referee had to quiet a loud and jeering crowd--from both ends of the table. The pit matches always had bleachers at either end of the tables, so the faces, and voices, of a lot of people were literally right in the faces of the players. And the hooting, jeering and cat-calling was at an all-time high that first game. Every time our opponents started setting up for a shot, I could hardly hear myself think for all the noise, and I could see our volatile opponents' faces getting redder and redder--especially since the louder the crowd noise got, the more my partner chuckled this little cackle that he always used when he really wanted to annoy the hell out of someone.
We won a hard-fought first game and there was just a bit of body checking as we circled the table to start the second. Ever the showman, my partner did the equivalent of an NBA flop looking in the referee's direction with palms upturned and that exaggerated wounded look as the more tempermental of our two opponents wouldn't give an inch and actually gave him a little shoulder push when they passed.
Two possessions into the second game, the referree stopped play and summoned hotel security, who escorted the more vocal of the two hooligans from the stands and right out of the building. This quieted the crowd, but not the chuckling from my partner. The rest of the match was played in stony silence (except for my partner's constant irritating little giggle), but it was a done deal. We took that game, the next and the match in quick succession, then met the same two in the finals and, again, put them away three games to one. In other words, we owned their fucking polo shirts once again.
Turns out, the two hooligans from the crowd were a couple of brokedick home-boys who had traveled to the tournament without much of a chance of winning anything. So about the only chance they had of buying any gas for the trip home was the $50 apiece my partner paid them to yell what he told them to yell, at exactly the point he wanted them to yell it, and as loud as he wanted them to yell it. Like I said, the man was a genius.
Moral of the story is if you want to play as a team, then you gotta pay as a team. And that's an easy little aphorism to remember, but like a lot of these universal principles, sometimes reality keeps them from being as universal as you'd like. Currently I have a teammate who has the annoying habit of chasing down his own jerseys. He's a strong guy who is just converting from triathlon. In the past, when confronted with this transgression, he has pleaded ignorance. After this past weekend at Winghaven, however, that excuse has worn thin. So now I gotta jump ship from the Marxist camp to something that has a little feudal and a little caste. I think this might be what they call realpolitic. Butthead, look that word up and comment. Later.