Monday, October 12, 2009

Aggies and Their Time

I caught a clip on the TV news tonight at the Y about a group of Texas A & M students who have gone around making a hobby of videotaping stunt basketball shots; recently, what they're calling the "longest basketball shot ever" was performed and filmed by these guys at the stadium in College Station.

The clip below is actually not of the longest shot ever, but it's of a bunch of their highlights that were also shown tonight on the TV news. Inevitably, the anchor wrapped up the piece tonight on these guys with the dismissive, groan- and eyeroll-inducing "they must have too much time on their hands" line.

To me, the "Too Much Time" knee-jerker ranks somewhere up there with the "that guy's on a power trip" said reflexively any time anyone gets pulled over, told 'no,' or even shushed at a movie theater by another patron. If it's really a power trip, okay, but I think that line tends to get said too often with little thought or justification.

Ditto for the "too much time on their/his/her hands." What a quick and easy way to totally dismiss anything creative, interesting, or original that people come up with. The funny thing is, the shots you see in this video may not have required all that many takes, they may have all been done on vacation time, or on "billable time" if these guys were working as camp counselors when this was done. For all any of us know, these guys might all be 3.8 premeds with Biochem majors. Regardless, I'm sure you've heard someone say this about someone else's creative endeavor or hobby within your recent memory.

And in comes the double-barreled irony:

(1) First, because the speaker no doubt considers him or herself "open-minded" and "non-judgemental," but by saying that is anything but.

One of the big lies we've concocted for ourselves in modern society is that we're these extremely open-minded, non-judgemental, tolerant types. That may be the case compared to some other era, or some other society, but each of us is constantly making judgement calls about the world around us. The person who quickly dismisses someone else's artwork or form of expression as a waste of time, or instantly assumes the way someone else spends an afternoon proof of someone's having "too much time" would probably never be gauche enough to say something politically incorrect at a cocktail party, or to confuse, say, "Asian" with "Oriental." Judgement calls about groups you don't understand are totally not okay, but judgement calls about people you don't know are somehow totally within bounds. Who wrote that rule?

(2) Second, because the speaker's glibness doesn't leave room for introspection.

Perhaps the speaker spends his or her free weekend days playing golf, flying kites at the beach, or maybe at home on the couch watching the Maury Povich "You are NOT the father!" holiday marathon. As far as I'm concerned, any and all of those uses of time are quite okay...because frankly, it's none of my damned business.

The point is that we all have hobbies. Whatever yours may be -- bodybuilding, classical piano, figure skating, Bobblehead doll collecting, or professional sports watching -- I don't think I have the right to call it a "waste" or to assume that otherwise hard-working professionals or college students have "too much" of it.

Now, I'll anticipate the first-order response to a post like this -- Why can't you just let it go, the speaker is obviously just speaking tongue-in-cheek, much like someone who says "Don't quit your day job!" every time he hears a person sing?

'Not so fast,' I would say back. The problem there is someone wanting to have it both ways...having their cake and eating it too (or vice versa if that makes more sense to you). In other words, I think it's a lame defense to make reflexively snide comments, or to snipe at something someone does, and then duck back behind the "I was just KIDDING!" defense upon being called on the carpet for it.

But as the Great Ranter Dennis Miller likes to say, "...And that's just my opinion, I could be wrong."


Jon and Kate said...

My Lord that was an amazing post. Couldn't agree more.

The New Englander said...


Glad you dug, and as someone who makes his living using creative talents, you've heard this crap before, no doubt.

Respect is due to the "Dude Perfect" guys for bringing smiles to people's faces for doing something really cool and original.

Whether they're all 3.8 premeds who do this on Sunday afternoon to let loose, or whether this is a 168-hour-a-week endeavor is none of our beeswax!


Jon and Kate said...

Thinking more about this post, the "have too much time on their hands" blurk comes also from the fact that everyone loves to complain about how busy they are. Yes, we all lead hectic lives, but TV ratings and movie box office wouldn't be what it was if everyone was as busy as they say.

The New Englander said...

Doubtless true, and sounds like great fodder for a future post -- everyone over-estimates their own level of *busyness* vis-a-vis others.

VERY germane to my current situation, which is sort of on-again, off-again for the next 12 months (sort of complicated but I could explain next time we catch up)..

Either way, my "off-again" periods are stacked high with 0600-2200 days of intense PT, reading Field Manuals, studying Dari/Pashto, advancing in Tae Kwon Do, substitute teaching at middle schools, and making time for (new) extended family, not to mention community involvement here in Lowell. So you can imagine my frustration every time I'm queried about why I'm "doing nothing all day" or when people assume I am able to drop everything on a moment's notice for any reason because I'm "not doing anything anyway." Got some great gems about the time and busyness blurks.