As a child, I had older parents. It was tough going to school knowing my parents were considerably older than everyone else’s parents,but I did have one advantage. My father, may God rest His soul, was born in 1904. That is NOT a typo. He would tell me great stories about events long ago, especially about the great racehorse, Man O’War. As most people who have read my work, I am a huge horse racing fanatic, so it was awesome hearing stories about Man O’War who ran in 1919-1920. That being said, there was one story that my father would tell me about, and it was this story that would capture my imagination, and would turn into a near obsession. It was the story of the “unsinkable” Titanic, as he was 7, going on 8 when the great liner sank on April 14-15, 1912. I never got tired of hearing the story over and over. I would watch as many Titanic specials, and read as many articles, and watch as many movies as I could. Just love the subject.
The subject of the Titanic is one of the most popular subjects. There are so many aspects, and angles to one of the most tragic maritime disasters in history. One of the most troubling aspects is that there are so many “what ifs.” What if they heeded just ONE of the six ice warnings they got the night of April 14, 1912, the night she struck? What if the weather was bad? Maybe she would have been forced to slow down? What if she had been built better?
As I said, I have seen specials, and various films. I have seen “Titanic” (1953) with Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwyck. It was some sort of melodrama. I have seen the Leonardo DiCaprio classic “Titanic (1997) which is an awesome film. I also have seen “A Night to Remember” (1958) which is based on the Walter Lord book of the same name. In fact, I watched “Night” last night, and I have seen the DiCaprio film so many times, it is crazy. Both of them I would recommend.
The one theme of the disaster that I found the most telling is a combination of two qualities in people that I detest intensely: arrogance, and stupidity. Hey, I admit that there have been plenty of times where I have acted stupid, and have acted arrogantly. I am the first person to admit, but I really try not to do that. However, those qualities just make me nuts. I mean, the Owner of White Star Line who was on board somehow sneaked into a lifeboat. Back in those days, it was women and children first. I will say that on Titanic, one side was saying “Women and Children” ONLY, and the other was doing it the right way, “Women and Children first, and if there were any room then the men could go in. Anyway, the White Star Line Owner, Bruce Ismay, being a coward (who also egged Captain Smith to go fast to get into NYC faster), got into a lifeboat, instead of going down with the ship like a MAN. How arrogant is that? The ship was given 6 ice warnings, and the Captain had one in his hand. Does he do anything? No. I mean, the entire disaster was full of arrogance and stupidity. At first they had enough boats, but put them away because of clutter. Just stupid stuff. There is a scene in “Night To Remember” where some of the bell boys are smoking (the ship is sinking , mind you), and some idiot officer said he would put them on the captain’s report. I was like, “Seriously??” Trust me, I could write a tome about the stupidity and arrogance.
The purpose of this blog is that I have noticed in the past several years that some people in the sports world have yet to pay attention to the Titanic disaster, and learn from it. The main lesson is that “there is no such thing as a sure thing.” No one is invincible. I know we all think we are invincible but sometimes we get reminders that we are not.
On the day she sank, the Titanic was given SIX iceberg warnings from various ships in the area. Captain E.J.Smith had one in his hand. What does he do, knowing his ship was not carrying enough lifeboats, etc? He listened to the stupid White Star Line Owner, Bruce Ismay who told him to speed the ship up so the Titanic could get into New York Tuesday night instead on Wednesday to “surprise everybody.” In the film, “A Night To Remember,” Second Officer Lightoller tells the Captain that in an hour they were going to be in the Labrador current (where icebergs were likely to be). The Captain admitted if there was fog they would have to slow down. Common sense should have told him to slow down anyway. Captain Smith had all this information. Did he listen? No, of course not. We all know the rest.
As I said, there is a lot of sports related athletes and teams that have ignored the lesson of one of the most discussed topics in the past 100 years. One of these in most recent times is the New Orleans Saints who are being punished for “Bounty Gate” Now, a lot of people feel for this team because they got themselves to glory after winning the Super Bowl and all that. That is understandable. However, people are having issues with the team getting punished so harshly. I kind of sensed that Sean Payton was a snotty, arrogant punk. Gregg Williams concerned me with his comments about Peyton Manning at the Super Bowl, and I am no Colts fan. Anyway, the Saints were warned about the “bounty” behaviour, and were investigate for 3 years. Even before the playoffs they were warned, and they still do it? I mean, if that audio tape of then Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams does not display arrogance, if not down right stupidity, then nothing does. I mean, let’s get real. The team KNEW they were being investigated. They were TOLD by the NFL not to do their bounty routine before the playoffs. What do they do? They pretty much gave the NFL a huge Stone Cold Salute (the double bird) to the NFL. Did the Saints listen? No. Well, now the team is trying to rearrange the deck chairs so to speak. I mean, depending on how hard some of their current players will be punished, it will be interesting to see if the team’s 2012/13 season will be sunk. Other teams will be affected as well as the former players also will be punished.
The other lesson I learned from the disaster was the issue of class. The First Class passengers has opulent dining, and deluxe accommodations like no other back in those days. Famous people such as John Jacob Astor and his young wife, Isabel Strauss (co owned Macy’s) and his wife, and plenty of others. The Second Class passengers had pretty good decks, and dining. Steerage (Third class) had your basic room and bunk beds, and things. Mostly poor immigrants coming to America occupied Steerage. When the ship was being evacuated, it went, First class first, second class second, and third class last. The Steerage passengers were LOCKED up in their areas till it was pretty much too late, and just about all the boats were gone. Some had escaped, and were admonished for going into First class by the crew (more stupidity). There was so much emphasized on class that it made me mad. I could not understand why the wealthy had more (in the eyes of the crew and officers) of a right to life than the poor. They were all humans. Perhaps they should have not worried about cluttering up the ship, and had enough lifeboats for all then. Anyway, after the ship sank and people were swimming trying to get to a lifeboat, some in the boats did not want to go help, especially many of the wealthy. In such a scene in “A Night to Remember, ” one wealthy woman was worried about some dude smoking, Another was “feeling most unwell.” This one boat that was built for forty but only had 12 in it. (Yes, the crew put only 12 people in a boat built for 40.) The wealthy woman said they should not go pick any of the people up. These people were just so arrogant and stupid, I wanted to kick their asses. How arrogant can they be? Only the “Unsinkable” Molly Brown wanted to go back, but no one else did.
Likewise, Bobby Petrino, and Nick Saban both remind me of a lot of the arrogance and a lot of the selfishness, especially when it came to the passengers, and survivors. With Petrino, let’s see, after Louisville, he ups and leaves for the “Big Time” as Head Coach of the Atlanta Falcons. He finds coaching players with minds of their owns not to his liking, and with the help of Arkansas, he leaves in the middle of the night. He does not even have the stones to tell those Falcon players to their faces. He even lied to Falcons owner Arthur Blank when the rumors of his leaving were swirling. He leaves them a “Dear John” letter. The next time he is on TV, he is seen with the Arkansas Razorbacks doing the stupid “Pig Suey” chants. Now Petrino is out of Arkansas because after that accident he got into, it was discovered that he had an affair with some 20 year chick who he got hired for the football department, possibly unfairly. He is not even challenging the firing.
Likewise, Nick Saban while he was coaching the Miami Dolphins, there were rumors that he was going to be the coach at the University of Alabama. He kept denying, and at that infamous press conference, he said “I’m not going to be the Alabama Coach.” Well, a few weeks later, after the end of the 2006/07 season, there he was in Alabama, as the Alabama Coach he said he was not going to be. Both of these guys were the epitome of arrogance. Sure, Saban is not in any trouble, but if he wanted to coach in the NFL, I am sure teams would pause as far as hiring him. Who can trust anything he says? Who can even think Saban would coach an NFL team, and think his heart would be in it? Petrino, the guy is a total jerk. He really is a coward. I mean, really. I am not getting into the personal stuff, but if he is willing to lie about that, I would think he may be willing to lie about something football related.which he evidently did about the hiring of his lover. I don’t feel sorry for Arkansas because they KNEW what kind of person he was when they hired him. If he lied to someone like Arthur Blank, didn’t Jeff Long, the Athletic Director think Petrino would like to HIM? It just seems to me, like some of those privileged passengers on the Titanic, Saban and Petrino thought they were above everyone. They aren’t. Petrino in particular felt he was too big to fail. He thought he could do anything he wanted and not get caught.
The main reason that the ship was considered “unsinkable” to begin with was its technological advances for that time period. White Star Line, which owned Titanic (and its sisters Olympic, and Britannic), were competing with the Cunard liners Mauritania, and the ill fated Lusitania for passengers, etc. White Star made its ship bigger, and faster than Cunard’s. White Star’s ships were also more opulent, especially for First Class passengers with heated swimming pools, and such. The technological advances on the Titanic in particular were its double hull, and its sixteen watertight compartments. If the ship somehow had hit an iceberg, the Captain would just have to close the watertight doors. Of course, we all now know that on that night, Thomas Andrews who designed the ship, told Captain Smith that Titanic could float with up to four compartments filled. Unfortunately, for them, Andrews said, five were gone, and water would go into the sixth, and into the seventh,etc. Too bad when the ship was still be constructed back at Belfast, N. Ireland, White Star did not listen to Andrews when he suggested they carry 64 lifeboats. White Star told Andrews that “it was too much clutter” and just put 20, four more than was was required at the time.
All this reminds me of the recent problems of the Indianapolis Colts. I mean, if you want to talk about someone who could have fit well with the people running the Titanic, it would have been now former General Manger Bill Polian and his son Chris, but more so, Bill Polian. Now, I give Bill credit for being a hell of an executive. He is bright, and knows his stuff when it comes to football, but the man is as arrogant as hell. In my opinion, he is the most arrogant NFL person ever. Good grief. I don’t have a lot of love for Bruce Isray either, or Peyton Manning. Why ESPN kissed this team’s collective ass all those years (despite that team’s only going to two Super Bowls, coming away with one defeating a Bears Team led by Rex Grossman) I have no idea..
After the season, I was not surprised Bill Polian and his son were gone. I mean, seriously. You do not build a team around ONE PERSON. I mean, that Curtis Painter dude was horrid. Polian should have prepared that team for Peyton’s eventual departure. Polian really should not have been that arrogant to think Peyton Manning would never get injured, and be out for all intents and purposes, for the year. If it could have happened to the QB of Colts’ bitter rival, the Patriots in 2008, what made the Colts (or any other team, for that matter) think it could not happen to their QB?
The one major lesson, at least for me, that I get from Titanic is that the disaster is a symbol or arrogance. As movie director James Cameron (“Titanic”) put it best, “I’m too big to fail.” (“Titanic: The Final Word with James Cameron). Well, with these sports examples, you see quite a bit of those aspects. I saw quite a bit of arrogance, and a lot of stupidity as well. There is a reason the disaster is retold constantly. People evidently need to learn that bad things can happen to them and they are not “too big to fail.
Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/missedgehead