The trails were dusty and pitted.
Transportation by overland stage jostled a traveler’s bones like lottery ping pong balls. Arriving on horseback between cities that we can reach in hours took days. Instead of a motel and shower, adventurers found basic comfort laying in a bedroll by a campfire and bathing in a stream when they could find one.
Ah, the legend of the wild West, from the time gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill until wondrous inventions like the automobile and telephone turned dusty memories into legend.
That truly was a long time ago, when men did things like punching a man in the gut for looking at him funny or shooting him for anything worse. A popular saying at the time was, “There’s no law west of the Misissippi River and west of Dodge City, there’s no God.”
How uncouth. We don’t do anything like that today, refined and cultured as we are. Heavens no, or do we?
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the internet, where lawlessness and anarchy reign just as sure as they did behind the swinging doors in those shoot-em-up western saloons.
Maybe it’s even worse. At least if somebody threw a punch or fired a shot at you at the Long Branch Saloon, you knew who was delivering it.
On the lawless plains of the internet, perpetrators don’t even have to announce themselves to fire shots. They use false names and even misrepresent other people whom they hold in contempt.
Unlike our gruff western ancestors, they don’t have the guts to stare a man in the eye before they strike. They don’t provide the courtesy of even the most despicable gunfighters inching closer and closer with gun hand ready as the women and children head for shelter. They hide behind the brambles of anonymity, shielding themselves cowardly from any possible retaliation.
Even these techno-twerps need some kind of forum in which to spread their venom, and sports make a fine vehicle. Many take aim at the local pro or college teams. Arguably, they’re fair game with their million dollar salaries and in the case of college athletes, the free education they receive at a value of a few hundred grand.
While the pros and high-profile collegians have mothers too, I’ve given up railing about how Sox and Yankee fans yearn for even more superstars in the lineup after every defeat. Fire away, malcontents. I wonder what it’s like to have no life.
But attacking high school coaches? In the Old West, that would be akin to staging an Indian massacre where mothers and babies were fair game.
A high school basketball coach earns in the neighborhood of $5,000. Most of them are teachers primarily, folks with the vision, talent and desire to guide our malleable youngsters through the challenge of their turbulent teens.
They play to win, but temper that with an attempt to give deserving candidates a fair shot. An athlete has got to be a student and good citizen first. From there, they are rewarded for how much they put into their respective games and the talent with which they’ve been blessed.
From the minds of the people behind giving trophies to Little League teams that go 0-16, I remind you that enabling youngsters presents them with a false sense that life habitually rewards non-achievers. Thus, if a high school sophomore loves baseball but simply can’t play, the coach is morally committed to suggest other avenues of self-expression.
Because many of today’s parents absorbed unfortunate messages during the start of the Everybody Gets Trophies Era, they simply can’t see beyond their own needs. They don’t get their way so they go into their cozy computer rooms, strap on their holsters, load their six-guns with misspelled invectives and fire away.
So you think the world has progressed so much since Marshal Dillon dined with Doc and Miss Kitty? Think again. Custer had his day of reckoning and I can only hope the internet snipers get theirs.