Sunday, June 27, 2010

Full Circle

During my senior year in high school, I took a psychology/sociology class as an elective. It was a really great class, and the final big project in the sociology component was a mock wedding. The class voted on who would be bride and groom, people in the wedding party, and the minister. The wedding was held in the school auditorium, and anyone could pop in to watch the ceremony.

There was quite a bit of debate over who would be the bride and groom, but one of my friends (who, incidentally, sat right in front of me in the class) spoke up and recommended me to be the minister. She turned around and smiled at me, and the class almost unanimously agreed for me to have that role in the wedding.

Little did I know at the time, but that experience would actually prepare me for later in life.

As I mentioned in a previous post, my sister got engaged to her boyfriend of almost 7 years. Yesterday was their engagement party, and we were discussing my role in their wedding. They planned on having three members in the wedding party on each side (including the maid of honor and best man), and Rob already had decided who would be on his side of the party. I had hoped I'd be a groomsman, but there wasn't room for me.

They came up with another idea for me: they asked me to be the master of ceremonies at their wedding. Oh yeah, and be the minister as well.

I never would have expected in a million years that I'd ever be asked to legally marry anyone, much less my sister. It's an honor that words couldn't possibly do justice to express, and I'm excited at the opportunity. I hope as we get closer to their wedding date that we'll be able to plan out the flow of the wedding, but I still plan on including one or two of my own surprises for the actual ceremony.

I guess I might as well add another task to my list: Become an ordained minister.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Pride In The Nation

Several posts of mine have been related to sports and their social impacts, and while this post will have similar themes, it's going to take a slightly different direction. The World Cup started Friday, and ever since when it was played in the U.S. in 1994 I've been crazy excited about it. I've often wondered how America missed the boat on soccer. Oh sure, Americans get all worked up when the World Cup starts, but the soccer fever dies out quickly after it wraps up.

I think there's another non-sports reason why Americans get excited about the World Cup, though. In fact, it's the same reason why I get excited about it so much: patriotism. Tens of thousands of fans from countries all around the world wave their flags, paint their faces, and cheer their countries on in ways that go far beyond the support they show teams in organized sports in their respective countries. It's very easy (and exciting, in my opinion) to get swept up in patriotic fever for a few weeks; it happens every time the Olympics come around, too.

I'm a fairly patriotic person. I love seeing the American flag wave in the wind. I sing along softly to the Star-Spangled Banner every time I attend any event where it's sung. I love celebrating July 4th every year, and try to keep in mind the true relevance behind it; it's far more important than simply a mid-summer holiday to have a cookout and watch fireworks.

If I had to choose a single sporting event that I'd want to experience live and in person just once for the rest of my life, without question it'd be either the World Cup or the Olympics. It's not so much about the events themselves (though seeing the Olympics in person for the events themselves would be pretty freaking awesome), but the opportunity to wave the American flag and show pride in my country. It might a little cheesy, but the athletes competing in these events clearly are excited about representing their countries as well, and that's an awesome thing.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

What IS It With Philly Fans, Anyway?

My native town is about 90 minutes north of Philadelphia. I grew up in the heart of Philadelphia sports teams country, though I can't say that I felt that connected to any of the major Philly teams as a kid. Sure, I'd root for them if they made the playoffs (especially if the Eagles were dueling against the Cowboys), but I was a fairweather fan at best.

Philly fans have been notorious for their obnoxious behavior, particularly towards their teams' rivals and rival fans. The bickering between Democrats and Republicans on the Hill is tame compared to the treatment Philly fans give other fans. The legendary tales go back some 30 years when Eagles fans booed Santa Claus over their team actually winning a game late in a season, and thus missing out on an opportunity to draft O.J. Simpson. However, I've noticed a trend over the last couple years of Philly fans steeping to new apparent lows that mystify even me.

The trend started with the 2009 World Series. A well-documented case involved a woman in her mid-40s posting an ad on Craigslist and was willing to exchange sex for tickets to the World Series. An undercover police officer responded to the ad and set up a sting to arrest the woman. She was arrested and was convicted of attempted prostitution.

Then there's the case of the kid who ran out on the field at a Phillies game and was tazed by police officers to capture him. What I found most odd about the case was that he called his father to inform him of his plans, hoping his dad would approve. I don't know how intoxicated this kid was, but he was clearly coherent enough to call his father ahead of time. Granted, he's not the first fan to ever run out on the field to get his 15 minutes of fame, and he probably wasn't the first one to call someone else ahead of time to inform someone of his plans. But in the history of all fans running out on the field, has anyone gotten away with it and not gotten arrested?

Speaking of being arrested, there's the incident of a guy who made himself vomit on an 11-year-old girl at a Phillies game. As bad as an idea as that was, the girl's father was an off-duty police officer (naturally). That behavior transcends immaturity for any age level, so I'm not even sure there's a word to accurately describe how stupid it is for a grown man.

As awful as these two cases are, I think the worst examples occured just this week. A video clip has hit the internet showing a 3-year-old - a 3-year-old - drinking from a beer bottle at Sunday's Phillies game against the Padres. That is not a typo; a 3-year-old boy drank from a beer bottle in open view of others. I don't know if his parents were around him or not, but honestly I'm not sure which of those two possibilities is worse.

Then just last night, the Blackhawks beats the Flyers in Game 6 to win the Stanley Cup. The game was played in Philadelphia, and Flyers fans were understandably upset and disappointed at the loss. They actually booed the Blackhawks players after they won (which is what most fans would likely do), and continued booing well after the Stanley Cup was presented to them. If they're so upset over their team losing, why not leave the stadium and vent elsewhere? The Blackhawks were celebrating as any team would after winning their respective sport's championship. They weren't thumbing their collective noses at the Philly fans.

I'm all for showing undying support of one's favorite team in any sport, but why the collective crass behavior? A very convincing argument could even be made that calling this behavior crass is being overly polite. I've thrown fits when my teams lose crucial games, especially those in the playoffs. I'll talk trash with fans of rival teams, but I never get overly hostile with them.

The irony to this whole subject is that even Philly fans' behavior is tame compared to soccer fans around the world. The brawls that happen between Manchester United fans and other fans are far worse than any behavior that's been seen in the U.S. (so far). Can it be people's need to have their 15 minutes of fame in any way, shape, or form that drives their horrid actions at sporting events? I suppose combining that need with alcohol will drive anyone beyond the point of reasonable thinking.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

It's A Shame He Can Fry Only Once

Wherever Natalie Holloway is right now, I hope she is finally resting in peace.

Five years ago, Natalie Holloway disappeared in Aruba while celebrating her high school graduation. Her body was never found, and three young men were charged in her disappearance. One of the young men, Joran van der Sloot, had the type of connection that actually helps in situations like this: his father was a judge in Aruba. None of the three men were tried in the case, and Natalie's fate was never determined, and no punishment was admonished.

Five years later to the day of her disappearance, van der Sloot was arrested in the murder of a 21-year-old woman in Peru. This time, he confessed to killing her (perhaps the confession was in part because his father had since passed away and could not bail him out this time), and detailed the events leading up to the woman's death.

What's worst about van der Sloot's actions is his apparent lack of remorse for anything. His explanation for his murder of the young woman was that she had grabbed his laptop and discovered his involvement in the disappearance of Holloway, and that she had in essence, "invaded [his] private life." He lashed out to hide the truth of his history with Holloway, and ended up killing a second woman.

Now there is a possibility that the quotes from the local newspapers are taken out of context somewhat, and the statements were designed by his lawyers to simply relay the facts. He was also quoted as saying he "did not want to do it." He implied that he was angry that the victim discovered something about his past that he didn't want her to, and reacted in rage.

Personally, I think his admission shows no sign of remorse or compassion.

No quote from van der Sloot said or implied anything resembling an apology to either Holloway's family or his second victim's family. He still has yet to confess anything regarding Holloway's disappearance or fate. His confession even seemed to imply his victim was at fault for her death and that he was justified for what he did. Any confession regarding Holloway's fate would likely be as empty as his confession today, but Holloway's family deserves the truth.

van der Sloot is the latest example of a murderer who can only be punished once for his crime while inflicting pain and suffering on numerous victims and their families. I hope that Holloway's family can at least take a small amount of solace knowing their daughter's killer has been arrested and will face punishment, but that certainly won't bring back their daughter.

If it were up to me, van der Sloot's confession would only result in speeding up the legal process. His punishment for murdering two young women and showing no remorse would be as severe as if he hadn't admitted anything to begin with. I would prefer to see him fry, but that would be an ever so brief form of punishment before his heart stops. Either way, I do hope justice is ultimately served, and I hope the families of both victims are able find some form of comfort.