L. Neil Smith's

Number 6, March 1996

"What's All This About Violins In Basketball?"

(in memory of the late "Emily Latela")

by John Taylor

Exclusive to The Libertarian Enterprise

         Good news in the War on Violence! Abe Pollin, owner of Washington's professional basketball team (and, it would appear, unheralded criminologist to boot) has discovered the "root cause of violence" in the federal district (and, historically, probably that of Baltimore as well).
         The basset-faced Mr. Pollin has sniffed out, in the most unlikely of places, the very catalyst that makes the disaffected and anti-social choose violence over more benign forms of conflict resolution -- such as, say, a friendly game of one-on-one.
         Lo and behold, conventional "experts" on crime had been looking in all the wrong places -- parental role models, the neighborhood, the welfare state, and federal government intervention. But the true cause, which appears to have lain unnoticed elsewhere for lo these many years is ...
         ... Mr. Pollin's team's name -- the Washington Bullets.
         Mr. Pollin, having made this Nobel-level discovery after the assassination of his friend Yitzhak Rabin, promptly launched a punitive strike against further incitement to violence by starting an area-wide campaign, beginning with a contest to re-name the team. He seems to feel that, with a name change and some other feel-good measures, the incentive to violence will magically disappear, and peace will once again reign in the nation's preeminent landfill (and, presumably, in the Middle East as well).
         As with most noble efforts begun in our nation's tax-hole, things turned ugly early -- and stayed that way. A flood of contest entries that decried the contest as a sham and a farce were suppressed by the team and the media. Of the 3,000 candidates reportedly proposed in over 500,000 entries received, five were selected by committee, some of whose members later said that none of the five was a good choice.
         The fans apparently agreed. All five names (for the record: "Dragons", "Express", "Sea Dogs", "Stallions", and "Wizards") were routinely booed when they were displayed at games.
         Each name received a "900" number that fans could call, though there wasn't a number assigned for the most popular of choices, "None of the Above".
         A local newscaster had said a few days before the selection that he found "Dragons" and "Wizards" racially offensive. No one quite understood the connection with "Sea Dogs" in a non-port city. "Stallions" was entirely too derivative of Baltimore's CFL team, which was, in turn, derivative of that city's dearly-departed Colts. And nothing in Washington -- not traffic, not city services, not legislation -- in any way resembles an "Express".
         The contest was closed and the winner was announced on February 22nd. Pollin refused to release the results of the contest, nor would he announce how much money was raised. In a coincidence that would be considered remarkable anywhere except in Washington, Pollin's personal favorite -- "Wizards" -- was declared the winner.
         A sportswriter said in his daily column:
          "... If the Wizards can save just one life, then it all will be worth it.
          "If you recall, saving lives is what the nickname game with the Bullets is all about.
          People were dying in the streets because of the Bullets. Studies showed that people were more prone to violence because of the nickname.
          "The National Rifle Association used the Bullets in its promotional campaign.
          "Guns don't kill people; the Bullets kill people. ..."
         (My family is divided as to whether the columnist was being facetious or serious. It's a sad commentary on life in this area when it becomes that difficult to tell the difference.)
         As if this weren't bad enough, now it turns out that a professional baseball team in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the Fort Wayne Wizards, is contemplating a suit for trademark infringement.
         And, in case you thought that the aforementioned newscaster was alone in his concern, the NAACP has officially pleaded with Pollin to reconsider the decision, due to the "Klan associations" of the new team name.
         In short, it appears that, once again, the do-gooders and blue-noses of this world have mistaken symbol for substance. In a good-hearted effort to make the world a better place to live, they have launched an all-out crusade against an object (and an intangible one at that), mistaking it for the action which so repulses them.
         So, let's recap this incredible story of style over substance so characteristic of Sodom-on-the-Potomac:
         The Washington Bullets, through their thirty-two year history under the current and former name in Baltimore and Washington, were the real cause of crime.
         Now the team, after a long, silly, secretive process, is going to change its name to one that is apparently liked only by its owner -- a name that some perceive has racial overtones -- in yet another "first step" at reducing violence in the overall undisputed murder capital of the world.
         And Pollin says that this action by the team shouldn't be taken as the be-all and end-all of his campaign to end violence. It's only a good first step. The team plans do much more in the future. Perhaps if enough teams change their names, we could achieve world peace in our lifetimes.

John Taylor is not a 'pro' basketball fan, finding the game cold and devoid of excitement when compared to college 'hoops'. He notes that, as of this writing, the Bullets are on a losing streak and are more than 15 games out of first place in their division. His chief concern is that the next target of the PC name brigade will be his beloved Washington Redskins.

Pallas, the new sci-fi adventure novel by L. Neil Smith is out in paperback from Tor. Is there room for a socialist utopia on an individualist asteroid?
Now available at good bookstores everywhere!

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