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What White People Donít See When They Watch Basketball
New York Magazine ^ | 3/20 | Jonathan Chait

Posted on 03/20/2014 11:41:56 AM PDT by nickcarraway

A couple of years ago, the basketball team I root for, the University of Michigan, had a player named Zack Novak. Everybody loved his story. He was slow and pudgy coming out of high school, recruited by nobody, and offered a spot at Michigan. Turned out he could play, at least some. He was only six foot three, but he played power forward, compensating for his lack of size and skill with unrelenting effort. He graduated from the business school and became team captain. If you watch college sports, you know the kind of player I’m talking about. Right: a white guy.

If you ever watched a Michigan game, you knew Novak’s story, because the announcers talked about it every time. And it was very easy to see: Watching him hang in there on the low block against opponents five or six inches taller every game was a constant miracle. He was a gritty, hustling, tough, smart overachiever. Racial stereotyping in sports coverage is a decades-old phenomenon. In Novak’s case, nobody minded because the stereotypes were completely true. But watching every single game Michigan plays has given me some perspective on how race continues to inflect coverage in sports-media.

The player for Michigan the announcers like to talk about now is a kid named Nik Stauskas. He's also white. He’s not especially gritty or tough. He’s an incredible scorer with good height, phenomenal shooting range, and an ability to unleash dunks or acrobatic layups. The thing the announcers mention every game — the fact that is incorporated into the shorthand notes they use to define a player's story line — is that Stauskas worked hard in the off-season to gain muscle.

That’s true. Though it’s also true that Stauskas remains really skinnyand shows no special grit. Also, in contrast to the easy stereotypes of white players, I’ve noticed he makes a lot of mental errors with his passes and sometimes lacks effort on defense. Watch him on these two plays letting opposing players run right past him on the fast break for a layup:

He seems like a nice kid, and he’s still a great player. But mainly he’s just a remarkable talent playing in a great offensive system. Michigan fans have a running joke about announcers marveling that Stauskas is (they say this nearly every game) “not just a shooter” — unlike the stereotypical white player, he has the athletic ability to fly past defenders and soar into the air. The announcers are sufficiently aware of his ability to acknowledge that he is not just a shooter, but not aware enough to realize that the fact they need to mention this is a joke on their eyes.

The thing is, there is a player on the team this year who’s almost exactly like Zach Novak. His name is Jordan Morgan. In high school, he was pudgy, slow, and small. No major conference programs except Michigan offered him a scholarship. But he physically transformed himself and has become, like Novak, an amazing overachiever. As a six-foot-seven center, he’s almost as undersize for his position as Novak is. He won’t shoot unless he’s within a couple feet of the basket, and often not even then, because opposing players can often swat away his shot attempts. Instead he spends most of every offensive possession throwing his body around the court, setting screen after screen to open up shots for his teammates.

He uses leverage, smarts, and unrelenting effort to gain every inch of advantage fighting against opposing centers. Morgan is a fifth-year senior who already graduated with a degree in engineering, and is studying for a master’s degree in manufacturing engineering.

But the announcers don’t talk about this stuff even one-tenth as often as they did Novak. And when they do, they don’t use terms like “gritty,” “unselfish,” “scrappy,” and “smart.” My explanation is that it’s because he looks like this:

Jordan Morgan #52 of the Michigan Wolverines reacts while taking on the Duke Blue Devils during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 20, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Yeah, he’s black. Now, don’t get me wrong — I don’t think anybody wants to suppress the story of an undersize, pudgy engineering nerd who made himself into a gritty, overachieving captain on a Big Ten champion team and who is also black. I bet the national media would love a story like that. I suspect they just don’t see it.

The gulf in physical talent between Novak and other players was glaring. Now, look at Morgan, with his gigantic biceps. If you don’t know him and you are using a simple heuristic, you probably think he’s a pretty good athletic talent, even if if is a little short. You don’t think about the fact that he gained that muscle after intense weight training. (Announcers never mention it.) And so one player is surrounded by a narrative of hustle, smarts, and toughness, and another player with the exact same qualities is not.

The situation is far better than it was three or four decades ago, when announcers would liken the skills of black players to animals. Today, they have some awareness of racial stereotyping. What’s left, I think, is far more characteristic of how racial bias typically works. Bad intent does not come into play. White people simply have certain preconceptions, and preconceptions make you see the things you expect to see and miss the things you don’t.


TOPICS: Society; Sports
KEYWORDS: athletes; athletics; chait; collegebasketball; ncaa
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1 posted on 03/20/2014 11:41:56 AM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway
Jonathan Chait spelled his name wrong. The C is an S, and there's no "a" in it.

Go Spartans.

2 posted on 03/20/2014 11:43:43 AM PDT by Darren McCarty (Abortion - legalized murder for convenience)
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To: nickcarraway

Seeing that I’m white, that isn’t something that I watch.

Oh no he di’in’!

Oh yes he di’id!


3 posted on 03/20/2014 11:44:24 AM PDT by chris37 (Heartless.)
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To: nickcarraway

Oh shut the hell up!


4 posted on 03/20/2014 11:44:31 AM PDT by Rummyfan (Iraq: it's not about Iraq anymore, it's about the USA!)
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To: nickcarraway

Huh?


5 posted on 03/20/2014 11:46:50 AM PDT by x1stcav ("The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.")
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To: nickcarraway

And the point is?

Everybody has preconceptions. White preconceeptions are no more evil than those of anyone else.


6 posted on 03/20/2014 11:47:02 AM PDT by chesley
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To: x1stcav

Basically we’re all racists.


7 posted on 03/20/2014 11:47:13 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: nickcarraway
Yep, Johnny, we're all so immersed in Whiteness that we can't even see straight. No hope for us.

I'm patiently awaiting the day this ridiculous, racist, superficial, two-bit pop-sociology fad fades into a deserved obscurity.

8 posted on 03/20/2014 11:47:35 AM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: nickcarraway

My take away from reading this - The author has no point whatsoever, and racism is always and everywhere whatever the speaker declares it to be.


9 posted on 03/20/2014 11:47:44 AM PDT by PGR88
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To: nickcarraway
What White People Don’t See When They Watch Basketball

The Box Office?

10 posted on 03/20/2014 11:47:51 AM PDT by Navy Patriot (Join the Democrats, it's not Fascism when WE do it, and the Constitution and law mean what WE say.)
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To: nickcarraway

It must suck to look at the whole world through a straw.


11 posted on 03/20/2014 11:48:43 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter admits whom he's working for)
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To: nickcarraway

Well Chait’s the whitest mu fo on the planet….


12 posted on 03/20/2014 11:48:58 AM PDT by C. Edmund Wright (Tokyo Rove is more than a name, it's a GREAT WEBSITE)
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To: nickcarraway

What white people don’t see when they watch basketball is white players.


13 posted on 03/20/2014 11:49:28 AM PDT by karnage
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Comment #14 Removed by Moderator

To: nickcarraway
What White People Don’t See When They Watch Basketball

Diversity.

15 posted on 03/20/2014 11:51:26 AM PDT by henkster (I don't like bossy women telling me what words I can't use.)
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To: dfwgator

‘Basically we’re all racists.’

Hell, I’ve known that for years. Does this doosh get paid?


16 posted on 03/20/2014 11:52:16 AM PDT by x1stcav ("The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.")
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To: henkster

By the LEFTIST definition of “diversity”, you’re seeing the culmination of it.

“Diversity” means

fewer white people, less Western Culture.

The basketball court is the penultimate example of “diversity”.


17 posted on 03/20/2014 11:53:01 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter admits whom he's working for)
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To: chesley

“Everybody has preconceptions. White preconceeptions are no more evil than those of anyone else.”

Funny, no mention of Wayne Simmonds color when NHL games are on.


18 posted on 03/20/2014 11:56:43 AM PDT by EQAndyBuzz ("Heck of a reset there, Hillary")
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To: Navy Patriot
Basketball is the only sport that gets duller as the level of competition goes up. We had a 5'6" kid in high school who could literally scamper under the outstretched arms of blockers to make baskets. Very exciting.

By college, you still have kids who can make exciting 3 point shots. Not quite as exciting as my high school classmate, but close.

NBA: eight foot guys making eight foot baskets. Whoopie!

They ought to raise the basket at least five feet higher than the median height of players in the league. Coach John Wooden suggested something similar when he was alive, but the regulation height is still what it was more than a century ago when Naismith invented the game . . . in an era when 5'6" was an AVERAGE height.

19 posted on 03/20/2014 11:56:48 AM PDT by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: nickcarraway
Jonathan Chait hears the same 'dog whistles' that Chrissie Tingles Matthews does.

Sophomore Nik Stauska of the University of Michigan men’s basketball team was named the 2014 Big Ten Player of the Year by the coaches and media

20 posted on 03/20/2014 11:57:09 AM PDT by Servant of the Cross (the Truth will set you free)
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To: nickcarraway

Never got basketball although I played a bit in an ROTC program at Duquesne. To me it’s tree hockey. Same with soccer just on a field.

Sometimes watch baseball, mostly for nostalgic reasons. The NFL, especially the Steelers, is dead to me. Ice hockey is ok for about two weeks.

Golf is ok early for the scenery and promise of Spring.

I do enjoy NASCAR but it’s nothing like it used to be.

All major sports are over hyped. Basically I’d rather play than watch.


21 posted on 03/20/2014 11:58:17 AM PDT by prisoner6 (FREEDOM)
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To: nickcarraway
More Lefty Chait speech...

Hey, Jonathan - I just don't bother to watch basketball. In that way, I don't have any racist, stereotypical thoughts.

And unlike President MomJeans, I don't get unnatural desires to sniff sweaty jockstraps...

22 posted on 03/20/2014 12:00:33 PM PDT by kiryandil (turning Americans into felons, one obnoxious drunk at a time (Zero Tolerance!!!))
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To: nickcarraway

So basketball a sport where blacks, 12% of the population fills 80% of the roles available

is really the place to look for racism against blacks

Sheesh How StOOOpid


23 posted on 03/20/2014 12:00:59 PM PDT by Cubs Fan (Obama-worst president in American History)
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To: nickcarraway

Basketball would get a lot more people following it if they would get rid of the draped in a potato sack look!

They are hideous!


24 posted on 03/20/2014 12:02:18 PM PDT by dalereed
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To: nickcarraway

What I don’t see watching basketball are white players.


25 posted on 03/20/2014 12:03:28 PM PDT by lbryce (Obama:The Worst is Yet To Come)
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To: EQAndyBuzz

No, but they do talk him up as a player, even though Giroux is the guts of that team. No mention of P. K. Subban’s color either. I guess there isn’t a “black stereotype” for Hockey. But as far as “diversity” goes, you probably don’t get more diverse than the NHL, where they have guys from every hockey playing country in the world out there. Give it another 15 years and there will be Asian players.


26 posted on 03/20/2014 12:03:43 PM PDT by henkster (I don't like bossy women telling me what words I can't use.)
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To: Billthedrill

We will die waiting..............


27 posted on 03/20/2014 12:08:52 PM PDT by Osage Orange (I have strong feelings about gun control. If there's a gun around, I want to be controlling it.)
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To: nickcarraway

What a load of B.S. I watch as many Michigan Games as I can.

Jordan Morgan has had plenty of press this year given their Starting Forward Mitch McGary is out with a back Issue for the season. Jordan is commended by most announcers as the Team Leader on the floor, taking the freshmen under his wing, being a 5th Year Graduate Student.

However it has taken both Jordan and Jon Horford to get the same numbers as McGary was providing.

As for Nik Stauskas, he has worked his ass off to improve his game. He is only a Sophmore. If he went Pro at the end of the year he would at worst be a low lottery pick. Jordan will be on the market come next fall looking for a spot or playing in Europe.


28 posted on 03/20/2014 12:09:58 PM PDT by VRWCarea51
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To: prisoner6

Am I in the cell next to you?


29 posted on 03/20/2014 12:10:53 PM PDT by Osage Orange (I have strong feelings about gun control. If there's a gun around, I want to be controlling it.)
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To: PGR88

“Racism” is the product of 60 years of Marxism-driven multiculturalism—divide us and conquer us.


30 posted on 03/20/2014 12:11:38 PM PDT by Misterioso
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To: nickcarraway

What he says about the (sometimes correct, sometimes incorrect) assumption that white guys aren’t as gifted in basketball is probably true. But, seriously, who cares?


31 posted on 03/20/2014 12:14:55 PM PDT by dinoparty
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To: nickcarraway
White people simply have certain preconceptions, and preconceptions make you see the things you expect to see and miss the things you don’t.

If that is true, then the same can be said about blacks. They have a preconceived notion that all whites are racist and spend a great deal of time and planning, meting and maintaining some great oppressive infrastructure that spans everything from fast food to mortgages. They see the things they imagine and miss the actual reality.

32 posted on 03/20/2014 12:18:44 PM PDT by liberalh8ter (The only difference between flash mob 'urban yutes' and U.S. politicians is the hoodies.)
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To: nickcarraway

Whats Basketball?


33 posted on 03/20/2014 12:19:40 PM PDT by Breto (Stranger in a strange land... where did America go?)
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To: Vigilanteman
Yep, high school Bball is great fun, ...for everybody.
34 posted on 03/20/2014 12:21:10 PM PDT by Navy Patriot (Join the Democrats, it's not Fascism when WE do it, and the Constitution and law mean what WE say.)
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To: nickcarraway

Yaaawwnn !!!!

.


35 posted on 03/20/2014 12:23:16 PM PDT by Mears
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To: liberalh8ter
...spend a great deal of time and planning, meting and maintaining some great oppressive infrastructure that spans everything from fast food to mortgages.

Have you been following me around?

36 posted on 03/20/2014 12:23:39 PM PDT by Navy Patriot (Join the Democrats, it's not Fascism when WE do it, and the Constitution and law mean what WE say.)
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To: nickcarraway

One of the most athletic basketball players ever was Tom Chambers. So athletic, he didn’t work much on his game and did not put in much effort on defense.


37 posted on 03/20/2014 12:23:41 PM PDT by SeaHawkFan
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To: henkster

“Give it another 15 years and there will be Asian players.”

Paul Karyia?


38 posted on 03/20/2014 12:25:14 PM PDT by EQAndyBuzz ("Heck of a reset there, Hillary")
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To: nickcarraway

What the author doesn’t (and couldn’t) see is the TEAM, and the concept of team.

A N Y

TEAM!


39 posted on 03/20/2014 12:26:48 PM PDT by Sir Napsalot (Pravda + Useful Idiots = CCCP; JournOList + Useful Idiots = DopeyChangey!)
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To: dfwgator; All; nickcarraway

“Basically we’re all racists.”

Basically, we’re all TRIBES. Seriously. This stuff is SO stupid!

Who doesn’t gravitate towards their own? Why were there enclaves of German, Jew, Irish, Italian, etc. when America was filling up? You are who you are born unto and you gravitate towards the familiar! It’s freakin’ HUMAN NATURE!

I work in one of the most FORCED ‘diverse’ towns in the Midwest, yet - no Asians or Hispanics or Blacks or Jews or Democrats of ANY stripe go out of their way to befriend me! What’s up with that? I’m a lovely person! They discriminate against ME because I’m white? I ain’t rich! I ain’t nobody’s fool! I’m street smart! I’m hip. I’m cool. ;)

My DOGS do NOT go out of their way to hang out with my CATS on any given day and my laying hens are not the LEAST bit interested in befriending either the dogs OR the cats! And we ALL hate the raccoons! Chicken-killing, trash dumping, rabies-spreading B@stards! ;)

Man, this stuff is so TRANSPARENTLY ‘divide and conquer’ by the LefTards all across the land. (Who, I do NOT want to knowingly associate with, LOL!)


40 posted on 03/20/2014 12:28:29 PM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin (I don't have 'Hobbies.' I'm developing a robust Post-Apocalyptic skill set...)
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To: nickcarraway

BADGERS WIN! BADGERS WIN! :)


41 posted on 03/20/2014 12:28:49 PM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin (I don't have 'Hobbies.' I'm developing a robust Post-Apocalyptic skill set...)
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To: MrB

LOL! :)


42 posted on 03/20/2014 12:29:27 PM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin (I don't have 'Hobbies.' I'm developing a robust Post-Apocalyptic skill set...)
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
You are smart....

I like that about ya!!

43 posted on 03/20/2014 12:30:45 PM PDT by Osage Orange (I have strong feelings about gun control. If there's a gun around, I want to be controlling it.)
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To: PGR88
Ha, ha, good point. I don't think Chait, as usual, has any idea what he's talking about. We should not have preconceptions about the differences in athletic ability between different races? Is he trying to say that we should ignore what we've witnessed from past experiences? Like yours truly who is a diehard bb fan and has seen many thousands of games at the grade school, high school, college, and pro levels?

Preconceptions and expectations usually are based on past observations and experiences. In all the games I've see at the high school level (usually in a state tournament game) where a mostly or all-white team is playing a mostly or all-black team, the white team has never been equal to the black team athletically. Better sometimes, but never equal in athletic ability in terms of speed, quickness, and jumping ability. Never.

44 posted on 03/20/2014 12:30:59 PM PDT by driftless2
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
BADGERS WIN! BADGERS WIN! :)

Big deal, a home win against a 15th seed.

45 posted on 03/20/2014 12:31:22 PM PDT by AU72
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To: nickcarraway
Talk about working overtime to conjure up an imaginary grievance!

It is the pursuit of imaginary grievances, which throughout history have been the weapon of choice among those who seek to corrupt others. (For example, see Variations On Demonic Theme.)

William Flax

46 posted on 03/20/2014 12:32:38 PM PDT by Ohioan
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To: chesley

Everybody has preconceptions. White preconceeptions are no more evil than those of anyone else.
+++++++++++++
Thank you for pointing out what should be obvious but somehow slips through the typical liberal mental net. (A preconceived notion, you might note.)

But back to basketball skills. Having grown up in the LA area playing a lot of basketball it would be foolhardy not to have developed the notion that the black kids are just better basketball players than white kids.

They are better. That’s life. I knew that well before I entered the sixth grade. So I guess I’m prejudiced having learned at such an early age that I was in for a tough game when we played Fremont or Jefferson High.


47 posted on 03/20/2014 12:32:47 PM PDT by InterceptPoint
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To: nickcarraway
Oh, I get it. Blacks are better at basketball than whites.

I can hit a man-sized target in the head at 500 meters, using iron sights (no scope), 7 out of 10 times.

Tell me which skill is more useful.

48 posted on 03/20/2014 12:33:00 PM PDT by Salvavida (The restoration of the U.S.A. starts with filling the pews at every Bible-believing church.)
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To: nickcarraway; flaglady47; mickie; pax_et_bonum; Bob Ireland; Maine Mariner; ThomasMore
I started this reading this windy article and soon was screaming "THROW THE BALL", THROW THE DAMN BALL"!

A prime example of much ado about nothing at all...a fishnet full of tedious, laborious sentences, all of them signifying nothing.

Undoubtedly and pointlessly written by a New York City metrosexual in love with his own worthless journalism degree and useless brain belches.

Leni

49 posted on 03/20/2014 12:34:59 PM PDT by MinuteGal
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To: dalereed
"potato sack"

Agree, but mostly for female players. Look at female volleyball players (and not the beach players). They wear short shorts. Then look at the "potato sacks" female bb players wear. Not nearly as sexy. In fact, definitely unsexy. A very pc incorrect thing to say (but very true), is that males will not watch females in unsexy unis. I might be a sexist pig, but the more female leg exposed, the better. Now I'm getting my flame retardant suit on.

As a side note, I was watching a old bb game on my computer a week or so ago, and my wife noticed the short shorts the males were wearing. She said they were far sexier than the long shorts they wear today. So I guess my wife is a sexist pig too. Or is that pigette?

50 posted on 03/20/2014 12:39:30 PM PDT by driftless2
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