Thomas Jefferson was way too smart for journalism, but he would have made a fine newspaperman nonetheless. The man sure knew how to write a lede.
OK, copy editors would hate him.
His sentences were too long and he randomly capitalized, but genius rarely conforms.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."
This, of course, is from the Declaration of Independence, a truly inspiring document of which Jefferson was the primary author 233 years ago. He followed up that genius by asking James Madison to craft a Bill of Rights to the Constitution, enumerating what exactly unalienable rights entail.
And on this Fourth of July, I thought, why not celebrate with our own Declaration of Sports Fan Independence, including a Bill of Rights? So . . . .
We, the fans of sports, in order to form a more perfect sporting world, establish order, ensure drug-free games, provide for the common enjoyment, promote the general welfare of the sport, and secure the blessings of a lazy Sunday on the couch with a beer and a ballgame to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Bill of Rights for sports fans.
Owners shall make no decisions restricting the enjoyment of real fandom, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof said fandom; or neglecting the obligation to sign players and failing to have a big-market budget, and making the games about themselves, and failing to hire a general manager.
Franchise icons, being necessary to the enjoyment of a professional sports franchise, and the right of the fans to see said players in a single uniform, shall not be infringed upon.
No owner shall, in time of modern sports, be allowed to require a personal-seat license that ensure only big-money corporate types have every good seat instead of actual, real fans, nor in time of All-Star games, playoff games and championships, shall good fans be excluded.
The right of the sports fan to be secure in their knowledge that athletes they cheer for are not using performance-enhancing drugs, illegal drugs or otherwise cheating the game shall not be violated, and no time-honored records shall be issued but upon considerable evidence, supported by stats and drug tests, that said athlete is clean.
No athlete shall be allowed the privilege of playing in any league if they have been convicted of an infamous crime, like say, DUI manslaughter, except in rare cases; nor shall fans be subjected to rooting for bad dudes who so obviously do not appreciate their good fortune or the responsibility that comes with all those zeroes, nor shall we be compelled to buy the "he's misunderstood," blame-the-bodyguard defense of teams trying to justify signing said players.
In all sports, the fans shall enjoy the right to a playoff system to crown champions, determined by games played, not big money; to be assured that all schools no matter of conference shall be included; to be confident if, say, a team wins at the Cotton Bowl in October that result is not discarded by computers, and to have some assurances the best two teams will be in the championships.
In games where the fans have access to multiple angles and replays on TV, the right to instant replay shall be preserved and used, and no play that is in question shall be ignored simply because a team lacks challenges or it is not reviewable or any other ridiculous reason invented. If it is obvious, overturn the call.
Excessive ticket prices shall not be required, nor excessive beer prices imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment be inflicted (say, for instance, Chan Ho or Coach Cupcake or Games 3 or 5 of the 2006 NBA Finals in Miami) upon fans trying to watch their teams.
The enumeration in this document of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage other entities and services retained by the fans, including but not limited to $3 beer, world-wide sports programming that acknowledges teams exist outside of New York and Boston, an expectation of effort, T.O.-free days, dome-free baseball or football stadiums, hockey on a channel everybody can find, the absolution of regular-season games on the NFL Network, and a Chris Berman-free golf broadcast.
The powers not delegated to the fans by this Bill of Rights, nor prohibited by law, are reserved to the ticket-buying fans respectively, or to the people who are the ones who turn on the stadium lights.
The ratification of the rights of the sports fans shall be sufficient for the establishment of this Bill of Rights between the fans from elsewhere so ratifying the same.
Jennifer Floyd Engel