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Sweat Inequity
Steve Rushin
August 14, 2006
When he was a pitcher for the Pirates, Jerry Reuss examined the media pass pinned to my chest and said, "Working Press? That's kinda like jumbo shrimp." He was right. Sportswriters get paid to sit and watch other people labor, which is one of life's most diverting pastimes. It's why I love This Old House, full-service gas stations and Benihanas.
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August 14, 2006

Sweat Inequity

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God reiterated this point last week, when a violent thunderstorm struck the Patriots' complex, tearing asunder the media tent on the practice field but leaving the tent next to it--reserved for the friends and families of players--unscathed.

Some of this country's greatest thinkers have embraced indolence, from the writer Jerome K. Jerome ("I like work. It fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours") to the comedian Jerome Seinfeld, who often went to work with his father to experience "one of life's great pleasures: watching other people work." The appeal is at once voyeuristic (a keyhole into another person's life) and Sawyeristic (it's fun to watch someone else paint a fence).

In his memorable soliloquy denouncing Wrigley Field fans, former Cubs manager Lee Elia said, "The [bleepers] don't even work. That's why they're out here for the [bleeping] game." At the Patriots' afternoon workout, fans lay prone near the practice fields. Many were clearly playing hooky from work: They were loafers in loafers, slackers in Dockers. Eating, drinking and staring at the field--slothful, gluttonous, envious--they were multitasking their way through the seven deadly sins.

On a football practice field a thin white line separates players from public, American idols from American idlers. Citing his job, Dolphins coach Nick Saban last week declined to join the President of the United States for dinner in Miami, and Pats coach Bill Belichick said that accepting a presidential dinner invitation "wouldn't be very high on my list right now."

Against such a work ethic, I can't help but feel like dead weight, an inert object. Leaving Gillette Stadium, I follow a sign that directs me to the exit through--this is perfect--the PRESS/FREIGHT ELEVATOR.

? if you have a comment for Steve Rushin, send it to rushin@siletters.com.

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