Oct 9, 2011

Murderball or Football

This one's for you, Pat.

A while back, a friend commented that I was unable to appreciate the skill exhibited by a cop wallowing around a gymkhana course on his hippo-Harley. He said something about me being unable to appreciate the skill required to make this bloated tractor of a motorcycle maneuver almost as well as a motorcycle.

Pat, you're right and you're wrong. I do appreciate the cop's skill, for what it is. However, I'd rather see a great rider on a great motorcycle, because that is actually interesting. Who knows if the cops can actually ride well? Yeah, they're great considering their handicap, but why intentionally reach for a handicap?

I got another reminder of my preference for all around competence over being pretty good at a boring skill today when a local television station ran the 1931 "A Connecticut Yankee" with Will Rogers. I wish I could find a link to the jousting scene in this great movie. The king's man is on a draft horse, all duded up in armor and fringe, while Rogers is on a cutting horse, in working cowboy clothes, with a lariat for a "weapon."

Not only do Rogers and his cutting horse kick the cruiser . . . whoops!

Not only do Rogers and his cutting horse kick the knight's ass, the mobile pair are a lot more fun to watch. I wish I could find a link to the jousting scene. [Will Rogers rocks!]

It's Sunday afternoon as I write this and the whole argument reminded me of  sports of all types. Yeah, it's really impressive that the guys who play Murderball are as good as they are at their sport. But what are the chances that Murderball will be on prime-time television Monday night or Sunday afternoon? What do you want to watch, guys in wheelchairs or guys who can throw a football 90 yards, run 100 yards in 9 seconds, knock other 250 pound monsters flat on their asses, or move like a ballerina hooked up to a freight train engine? Last I heard, the Special Olympics didn't get any television coverage, let alone major station attention. I must not be the only one out here more interested in the "best of the best" rather than "pretty good in mediocre conditions." Harsh words, but someone needed to say them and it might as well be me.


  1. First off, a cop bike is a tool, not a toy. It has to carry a lot of gear, it has to have a good visual presence and it gets used for traffic control, parade/escort duty, rapid response etc. The best ones out there are modified sport tourers like the BMW RT and the Kawi Concours 14. I doubt the WR250 would be any good for cop duty, just like a Ford Focus wouldn't make a good cop car. It's just different horses, different courses.
    I think most riders should aspire to be 1/4 as competent as a motor officer for their everyday riding.
    I like your Will Rogers and sports analogy, but you're like the automotive writers many years back, trying to convince Mr Average to give up his Impala or Galaxy for a small, fun to drive, economical import. People like their cruisers because everyone else has one, and they don't know (and don't want to know) different.

  2. Since the best cops and "cop bikes" I've seen at work are bicycles in urban neighborhoods and recreational areas (like the beach), I have to wonder about how well a WR would work there. Obviously, the bicycle cops are not carrying a lot of gear, but they are also in place to regulate crowd activity and to provide security. Somthing more police should be involved in, rather than meter maid time-wasting and tax collecting on the highway. A cop could carry more gear on a WR than on a bicycle and be a lot faster to respond in those locations than on a hippo-Harley.

    For years, I've heard stories of how well motorcycle cops ride, but rarely see the evidence on the streets. When I lived in CA, that evidence was in really short supply. In CO, I had to take my first motorcycle license test in 20 years (after a billfold theft) and the examiner told me stories of how many motorcycle cops had failed his test and crashed into the dumpster during the braking exercise. (I don't understand the license sequence for Denver cops, but it must be very bureaucratic.)

    Regardless, I don't get anything but the humor out of watching one of those monsters wallow through a course. The only people I'd bother trying to convince of anything are new riders. Car lovers are universally disgusted at what I drive; a 1998 Escort wagon. No convincing argument will ever make me give a damn about cars. I'm just trying to explain myself. I have no ability to see into anyone else's mind; or interest. The closest I get to that is when I do an interview.

  3. Paul Compton10/13/11, 7:36 AM

    A 3200lb 300bhp 162mph Ford Focus RS makes a Crown Victoria or Chevy Impala look really comical as a cop car! Footage from 'Police Stop!' type shows gives the impression that driving in the US is of very poor standard, so I can perhaps understand why American police wish to surround themselves with the maximum acreage of surplus metal!

    If you're riding in shirt sleeves whilst you're demonstrating riding skills, you're either not trying very hard, or you have no imagination!

  4. Good observation, Paul. I see these guys plodding all over the Cities dressed like they're going golfing and driving like they expect the world to watch out for them. They are lucky they only have a 3 month season for cop bikes in Minnesota.

    There is no shortage of lousy drivers in the US, many of them are in police cars.

  5. You say the cop is reaching for a handicap then compare the cop to a guy playing Murderball. It's a stretch as the guys in the chairs aren't reaching for a handicap, it's there forever.

    The Special Olympics and Paralympics are 2 different competitions, you are ignorant, harsh words but someone needed to say them.

    Really what is troubling is the rant about Para-sports, why do you feel the need to state that it's not as interesting as watching a bunch of doped-up guys at the pinnacle of their sports with such vitriol? Has there been a push to replace Monday Night Football with Murderball? I can assure you that no sane person is advocating that, so why are you so mad?

    I'm a Paralympic athlete (and motorcyclist) myself, I understand that we usually aren't as interesting as our able-body counterparts, but what happens when we are? What happens when Oscar Pistorius puts springs in his feet and smashes the World Record in the 400m dash? He would be the best and would be much more relevant as per your argument.

  6. I suspect you have intentionally missed my point, but that's your prerogative. Whether we "select" our handicap or are born with it or are cursed with it through accident or slither into it through old age (my case, for instance), what we do for recreation is diminished as a spectator sport in comparison to sports played by athletes in their prime at the pinnacle of performance. Disagree all you like, but at least in the US where the all-mighty dollar is where the rubber meets the road it is obviously the truth.

    There is, obviously, no interest in substituting Murderball with any current spectator sport, pro or amateur. However, the original spirit of the rant was that some folks insist that a cop riding a disabled hippobike is in some way as interesting as watching top riders on able-engineered motorcycles. It ain't so. As much as paralympians and Special Olympics athletes are admirable and wonderful examples of the human spirit, I'd be amazed if they ever make it to prime time anywhere on earth, but I know it won't happen here.

    Oscar Pistorius (http://www.oscarpistorius.com/) rocks. I am a huge fan of prosthesis although I suspect the resistance to his participation in traditional competition is based on the fact that athletes (humans in general) are freaky enough to have their legs amputated if artificial limbs would provide an advantage.

    If you've come here for a politically correct perspective, you've over-estimated my interest in human sensitivity. I'm pretty sure I warned you about that with my opening statement.


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