Here is an early link to my Thursday column about do-gooders and smokeless tobacco and the SF Giants. The full text runs below:
I have a horror of do-gooders.
Do-gooders mean well, but they are bossy and they intrude on our lives and tell us what we should and should not do. Like the latest thing they’re up to in baseball. A group of do-gooders sponsored a bill to ban the use of smokeless tobacco (dip) from public athletic fields in San Francisco starting next year. The Board of Supervisors passed the bill. Among the athletic fields is AT&T Park. The potential law breakers are Madison Bumgarner, a dipper, and some of his teammates.
A group called Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids sponsored the new law. “For most members of city councils, concerned about kids in their community, this is a no-brainer,” a member of the group told the New York Times. “It’s something simple and straightforward that will have an effect, literally, on millions of young boys.”
The group wants the Major Leagues to be dip-free within a year.
Some readers are probably angry at my objection to the new law. Dip is bad for people, causes cancer. Players are role models. If they dip, so will boys.
I understand the logic and I appreciate the good sentiment, but I still dislike the law. Players are not role models for young people. Parents are role models for young people. Get that straight.
Bumgarner does not come into your home and lecture little Johnny about table manners, show Johnny how to straighten up his room, help Johnny with his history homework, sit up with Johnny when he has a fever. And he sure doesn’t lecture Johnny on the pros and cons of dip. Parents do all that. Bumgarner doesn’t even know little Johnny.
Did I let my son dip when he played high-school baseball?
Hell no. It was my job to set him straight. His behavior was an issue for our family, had nothing to do with Mayor Ed Lee of San Francisco who signed the new anti-dip law. I constantly taught my son that athletes are not role models. I know this first-hand. Athletes are regular people and many are flawed. Using dip is one of the flaws.
I don’t like this new law because it assumes the role of parent. It tells grown men like Bumgarner what is good for them. He may want to dip — he does want to dip — but the law tells him no. He can’t dip, and it’s for his own good.
Get this straight. The City of San Francisco is treating Bumgarner like he’s a moron who doesn’t understand what’s at stake. If he doesn’t agree with the city, it will penalize him. But Bumgarner is a grown man who lives in a world of free choice. If he wants to risk the dangers of smokeless tobacco, that is strictly his affair.
It’s the same as drinking alcohol, which can be harmful to a person’s health. Players drink beer, and the Giants sure drank and sprayed champagne after their three recent World Series wins. Strictly their business.
I run into the it’s-for-their-own-good argument all the time — at parties usually — when someone asks my favorite sport and I say boxing and he/she frowns like I’m a murderer and says boxing is violent and should be banned.
Why should it be banned?
Because people get hurt. Oh, Mike Tyson had no idea people get hurt in boxing. He thought boxing was a prayer session. So, let’s save poor Mike and his friends from themselves. While we’re at it, let’s save Vernon Davis and Colin Kaerpernick from themselves, too. Because, after all, people get hurt in football, and Davis and Kaepernick don’t know that.
Do-gooders are the most condescending human beings.
When I covered Dusty Baker, he dipped. I would sit in his office and notice the slight bump under his lower lip. I have deep affection for Baker. He is the closest thing I have to a friend among athletes and coaches. But I didn’t lecture him on the dangers of dip, although I wished he didn’t use the stuff. He knew the dangers. He’s a smart man. What he did with his lip was none of my business. Lecturing him would have been impertinent. And useless.
OK, so far, the new San Francisco law saves the youth from dip and saves adults from their own cravings. What else does it do?
It saves onlookers from feeling disgusted. Dipping is disgusting, and a person shouldn’t have to look at disgusting stuff. So ban disgusting dipping, even though dippers pose no health hazard to people near them.
But there is no law against disgusting. I may find your hairdo or your body smell or your voice disgusting. What’s disgusting to you may not be disgusting to me. This disgusting argument is weak.
And I’ll tell you something else. Visiting ballplayers will have to adhere to the no-dip law in San Francisco. A guy is a New York Met and he dips and he comes to AT&T and he can’t dip. Doesn’t seem fair. Or reasonable.
How will enforcement work?
Thankfully, no roving dip patrolmen will infiltrate the ballpark. People who notice someone in the stands dipping can report him or her — not that I’ve ever seen a woman dip. In other words, people are encouraged to rat out fellow citizens. Call it The Rat Patrol. That’s swell role-model behavior for you.
If fans see Bumgarner with a dip in his lower lip, they can file a complaint. Maybe a police officer marches out to the mound while Bumgarner has a 3-2 count on Adrian Gonzalez, and issues a citation to MadBum.
I get the feeling Bumgarner can afford the fine. I get the feeling the citation won’t change what Bumgarner does.
Here’s the kicker. It already is against the law for people under 18 to use tobacco products in California. Parents and coaches need to enforce the existing law on athletic fields all over the state. Do-gooders should leave the Giants alone.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.