The General Devolution of a Sports Argument Part I: Fallacies

I am about to blog about something that is near and dear to my heart, as well as a glimpse into how I operate as a person. This is meant to be part educational, part me admonishing myself, as well as part commentary on “internet + sports discussion + Facebook + unrelenting opinions = this exact situation where we both look like idiots.” Discussing sports is something that I absolutely enjoy doing amongst my friends. Even when I am not with friends, I can easily broach the topic with whoever wants to oblige me and we can spend minutes upon hours talking and waxing poetically about sport’s existential awesomeness. That’s what sports do: they bring people together in a social setting to engage in some form of social bonding regardless of your team affiliation. The only problem is that once you bring all these people in for a social bonding experience, you have to look out for strong egos and even stronger unrelenting opinions. To make matters even worse, more and more social interactions (especially regarding sports) are occurring on internet message boards, Twitter and Facebook– mediums that trade face to face interactions with IP addresses, monikers and a computer monitor. A discussion and commentary on technology’s role in retarding social interaction is a completely different post… but these forums lead to hilarious or frustrating exchanges (depending on your vantage point) between two people discussing sports. This is one of those stories.

Unlike Pharrell, I won’t front: I like to be right. I would argue that there is an innate fabric in the human mind that pines to always be right regardless of whether it is in fact correct. We’re obstinate beings because of this sense we possess. Being wrong is embarrassing. I like voicing my opinion and poking holes in other people’s and gently stating, “you know, that’s your opinion… but it’s wrong for these reasons…” What I don’t like is a taste of my own medicine. It feels weird… like you’re not the smartest one out there… like you’re not the only person on this level of intellect and you have to (gasp!) share space. So acting like this makes one become a pretentious asshole when it comes to discussing certain topics. For me, that is basketball. Yesterday, I got into rather epic and insipid discussion about basketball coaches and what a 6th man is. Below I will show what happens when two opinions converge and set Facebook notifications ablaze. (Ed. note: “Honestly though, I don’t think I lost that argument,” said every internet poster ever.)

Purty much.
Purty much.

It all began yesterday when I noticed a status by my cousin on the book of faces. He’s a Laker fan and was voicing his pining for Phil Jackson’s return to LaLa Land to coach his beloved Lakers. Full disclosure, I am not a Lakers fan. In fact, watching the Lakers go through this struggle elates me because now their fans can no longer gloat and wave their sense of entitlement around. They are now experiencing the struggles that most other teams face and every bit of trolling, mockery and ribbing is more than deserved not only for the fact their team is struggling but because of karmic retribution. Here is the first of the commenting on the status that went on:

Part one

Disclaimer: All names were removed or altered to protect identity. “O” is the main guy that I engage in book of faces word sparring.

part two

Now as you can already tell, there have been some jokes written as replies and there has been some decent insight and in depth discussion posted. At this point the main reason I was drawn in was the assertion that Steve Blake was: 1). the Lakers’ sixth man and 2). one of the Lakers 6 best players. Let those two statements sink in for a nanosecond. Steve Blake… Lakers sixth man… one the Lakers top 6. Yup, you read that right from O’s fingertips! Unprompted and unashamed. The other reason I wanted to jump in was because someone stated that it shouldn’t matter who the coach is. Hello, earth to that person? Yeah, they’ve fired a coach this season and the one they’ve brought in has not fared too much better… I would have to say that coaching (along with roster problems and health) are all fair game to be dissected at this point. So finally, I make my foray into the comments.

part 3

Boom goes the dynamite. I go hard in the paint right off the bat. Decimation. Keys strewn everywhere. Like Young Jeezy, every day I’m flexin’ on these sports convos bro. At this point I’m feeling rather accomplished, preening like a peacock because nothing says, “Ladies: he’s single, attractive and can be yours” like talking about sports on the book of faces. Unfortunately, your boy got a response that was not what he expected. I was expecting some form of agreement with what I said, but I was met with a comment that was in direct opposition to most of what I had said. Read on.

part 4

At this point, I am pretty sure this guy is either tripping, or is a Steve Blake fan boy a la Mike Rice and Mike Barrett. There was a Laker fan that said Steve Blake was not their sixth man. I was not the first to make this statement, I was the second. Yet O, bless his heart, is adamant that Steve Blake was that guy and was in that role. LOLWUT? SERIOUSLY, YOU HAVE TO READ HIS COMMENTS TO GET WHY I AM TYPING IN CAPS AND LAUGHING IN A CONFUSED MANNER! It gets better, read the bit about not doubting Phil… and then read the part where he basically says, “I doubt him.” COMEDIC GOLD! As it stands, after O’s latest reply, I am at a crossroads: do I really want to continue this and be an obstinately adamant person or should I just let it go because I have better things to do? Fuck it, I’m going to keep typing because there is work to be done– people aren’t going to teach themselves. And so the conversation continues as I stretch from a 3 point argument to a touchdown argument.

part 5

Man, those egos are pretty nifty thing. I mean, we know they exist… but how do we explain them? If you didn’t get the fact I was reiterating everything he was saying about D’Antoni’s ego management, which in actuality was a reiteration of what I had said about D’Antoni’s ego management– there is no hope for you. You are an O. Don’t be an O. You “O” it to yourself to not be an O. Got it? Now here we reach the first level of argumentative devolution, the inclusion of fallacious arguments in a hope that the other person doesn’t notice and will concede certain points to you so that it will all end. The best argument fallacies used are appealing to authority and straw man. In this case, O uses the patented appeal to authority technique. What’s that you say? An NBA player had a certain coach as his first choice and he got hired? And they’re still struggling after firing the other guy (Mike Brown, who Kobe also endorsed at the time)? Man, he must know a shit ton more about basketball than you and I ever will! …STFU. Continuing on…

part 6

After the Frank Ocean reference that unfortunately garnered 1 measley like, I finally made him laugh. Not in a “haha that’s funny way,” but a “haha you sound like a complete idiot and let me tell you why you sound like an idiot, you idiot.” Not only that, after being called out for his use of a fallacious argument, O tries to belittle me by asking whether or not I have played the sport of basketball. As if playing the sport is the end all be all of being able to discuss the sport. We have now reached the second level of argument devolution: ad hominem attacks. Someone’s feelings are getting hurt or someone is getting irritated because there is a person on the same intellectual plane discussing basketball with them. I no longer am super-jovial about this conversation. I’m in it for blood. I want to eviscerate O. Laugh at me after I have given point after point after point about why your opinion is valid but falls short in certain aspect? I’ll show you. (Ed. note: I would strongly advise you to read his definition of what a sixth man is and refer back to it because I use it heavily in trying to show why he is so unbelievably wrong.)

part 7

Blam blam with the blammer, smile nephew you on candid camera. Again, I’m like Marquez on Pacquaio. I don’t pull fronts or stunts. It’s either the jugular or I don’t go at all. If you’re going to go about making someone understand why your opinion is the way it is, make sure you can explain it in layman terms with plenty of examples. I did that quite well I feel. Furthermore, if you want to show why and where you don’t agree with theirs, again explain it back to them in simple terms… and if you can, sprinkle in an example showing the logic so you further point out you understand them. Again, I did that. The final response is awesome, and the third level of argument devolution: not admitting there was a loss by continuing to point out why one is more right and recusing oneself from the conversation.

part 8

Hmm, apparently my use of his 6th man definition did not go over too well with him… neither did my example. And hey, did you guys know that basketball teams use rotations?! I never knew that until yesterday night! I always wondered why Nate McMillan was so rigid about giving out minutes! IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW! THANK YOU O! YOU ARE SO WISE! WHERE WOULD MY BASKETBALL IQ BE WITHOUT YOU? If you have followed the flow of the conversation you will realize at this point O has kind of argued himself into a corner and has begun to agree with a few of my points, notably “what a 6th man is.” Instead of flat out agreeing, he has reiterated the philosophical definition I typed (using a few of the names I offered) to say that, “it’s still the first person off the bench.” Hmm, I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I won that round folks.

While it may seem like I’m putting O on blast for self-serving purposes, I’m also putting myself on blast for not stopping at a certain point (that point was probably my second comment). I went into this hoping to make one comment and instead engaged myself in verbal fisticuffs with someone who called me out for trying to talk about a sport I have never played in a team atmosphere… well I did in 6th grade, but he’d probably say “that doesn’t count though,” (then what fucking does dude?). You know what is really idiotic? This was kind of the highlight of the day. Aside from doing my own accounting work, getting the house in order for my sister’s return and trying to get a buyer for Blazers tickets I had burning a hole in my pocket, this is what I look back and say I did. Even worse: I am writing a blog post to semi-celebrate and mock myself for being such an stubborn mule when it comes to talking about sports. They say you live and you learn… I guess I am still learning not to kick back.

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