Sunday, March 19, 2017

365. Games

It was as close to walking into the living room and seeing the famous comedian Jack Benny as could be. How C.W. found out about that icon of comedy remains a mystery, but there he was.

He turned with that famous deadpan look, “Just what is this?” He turned toward the television screen.

“It’s called basketball.”

“And, the purpose? Oh wait … .” On the screen a player stopped dribbling and held the basketball squeezed above his middle, moving it back and forth. “It must be an exercise to strengthen stomach muscles.”

“No, when the player quits bouncing the ball, or dribbling as they call it, he must throw it to someone else.”

“That doesn’t make sense. Doesn’t your species worship private property possession above all?”

“It isn’t exactly his property.”

“Whose then?”

“Oh, maybe the school’s. This is a college game.”

“Oh, so it is an academic exercise to teach decision making skills?”

“Maybe. Sort of.”

“What do you call these students?”


“They come to college to study game theory?”

“They actually come to college to win these games for the school.”


“Uh, prestige, honor, fame, the sort of things that encourage rich men to make donations to the school.”

He turned and did the deadpan again. “You’re telling me that rich men turn loose of their money for things like this? That’s going to come as a surprise to all those hopeful models in New York City.”

“You heard me.”

“And how many years of college study does it take for these young players, as you call them, to learn the necessary gaming skills to enhance their life choices?”

“It depends.”

“On what?”

“How good they are.”

“So, the better they get, the longer they stay?”

“Not exactly. The best ones stay less than two full semesters.”

“They learn pretty fast?”

“Something like that.”

“How long do the others stay?”

“Some as long as a little less than eight full semesters.”

The deadpan again. “And I thought it took Hope and Crosby a long time to learn the business.”

After watching for another three hours, he turned asked, “How long is this going to last?”

“There’s only five minutes left.”

“Good, I haven’t been so bored since the first time I heard a Milton Berle routine," he said before turning back to the screen.

An hour later, he began to fidget. “Is this nearly over?”

“Only three minutes left.”

A player threw the ball in and, immediately, another player slapped him. They exchanged words, and a referee stepped between them. This elicited a response. “I see now,” he said. “They’re learning the skills involved in conflict resolution.”

Picking a family at random, even
this typical family is bored,. - C.W.
“Something like that.”

An hour later, his patience was exhausted. “Will this go on forever?”

“Just one more minute left.”

As another player, after having been slapped, walked to attempt a free-throw, he turned once again with the most solemn look you can imagine.

“This is worse than watching Fred Allen trying to solve a math problem,” he said. “Good thing nobody else was forced to live through it.”

“Yeah, right.”

“At least the female of your species has better things to do.”

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