The Locker Room

“49ers New Stadium: Taking It In the End Zone”

by Danny Dechi

 

I’ve been a San Francisco 49ers season tickets holder since 1982, proudly attending games since 1971. During the 1981 season, before I had season tickets, I slept over at Candlestick Park twice to get in line for playoff tickets, braving my way through floods to reach Candlestick Park for that second sleepover, really. I sat five rows from the end zone when Dwight Clark blocked the sun directly in front of me to make The Catch.

As a season ticket holder, the York ownership has offered me to experience the upcoming Santa Clara stadium. According to the catalog, seating will be 1,400 less than Candlestick, but with 9,000 more club seats. There is Mobile Connectivity & Wi-Fi. Great. That means your cell phone will work, and you can waste time on your smartphone instead of watching the game in your expensive seat, annoying those around you, just like you do on the bus.

The stadium cost $1.2 billion to build. A good part of that is from the Stadium Builders License, or SBL. You would think a Stadium Builders License would mean the amount spent by the ownership for the stadium building contractors. Wrong. It’s the amount being paid by the season ticket holders.

That’s right, besides higher ticket prices, fans also pay the Stadium Builders License, and we do not have a say on the stadium design. Or do we? Since I’m being required to pay a Stadium Builders License, then I can at least decide on how I want my seat to look. I want my seat to be a huge golden shrine to legendary 49er Joe Montana. And before anyone crosses my aisle, they must kiss my Super Bowl XVI replica ring, which I got at Mervyn’s. I miss Mervyn’s. I got my ex-fiancee’s ring there.

As stated in the new stadium catalog, the following are benefits of the SBL:

#1 Ownership: You have the right to own your SBL for the lifetime of the new stadium.

(Meaning, you have the right to own this imaginary entity for which you paid a minimum of $2,000, forever.)

#2 Transferability: You have the right to transfer your SBL to a member of your immediate family or to a third party.

(Meaning, you have the right to give this unicorn for which you paid a minimum of $2,000, to whoever deserves it.)

#3 Right to Sell:  You have the right to resell your SBL to any third party.

(Even better, you have the right to sell this unicorn for which you paid a minimum of $2,000, to whoever else believes in unicorns.)

Numbers 1, 2, and 3 aren’t really benefits, unless you consider the opportunity to spend money on an imaginary entity a benefit.

#4 Access:  As an SBL owner, you’ll have exclusive opportunities to purchase tickets to other events hosted at the new stadium prior to the general public.

Number 4 is a benefit, but it’s still not worth paying the minimum $2,000 SBL to be forewarned that a Justin Bieber concert is coming to town. SBL gives me the right to purchase season tickets to see the games. Call me old fashioned, but I thought just buying tickets gave me the right to see a game. Just like when I buy tickets to see a movie, same as buying tickets to a rock concert, a baseball game, season tickets to the opera, or an oil wrestling benefit tournament.

Some fans pay up to $12,000 for the SBL alone. For that price, sportscaster Bob Costas should be sitting next to the fans, announcing the play by play. I couldn’t afford that. I’d probably have to give up my first-born. Although I don’t have a first-born, due to my having an ex-fiancee.

I understand paying a higher ticket price for a new stadium, even though it goes up for me from $390 to $1,047 per season, and I would have to schlep all the way to Santa Clara. I don’t like it, but I understand it. But an SBL? And with lame reasons for justifying an SBL? Are there any lawyers out there who can contest this scam? Are we fans going to just lay down like sheep and take it in the end zone?

Many people are already upset with the York ownership. There’s been booing in the stands with the mere mention of the York name. Recently, I was at a grocery store looking for candy. I asked the cashier where I can find a York Peppermint Pattie. Suddenly, everyone around me boos. Walking down a street I see a friend of mine who’s been away for a while. He tells me that he was visiting New York. Again, I’m surrounded by knee jerk reaction of boos. Later, I’m at the butcher asking for a pound of pork. Everyone around me boos. I protest to the crowd: “I said pork! Not York! Pork!”  A Rabbi boos me.

 

 

“Napoleon”

by Kelsey Capps

Every Thursday night at the local YMCA two valiant local volleyball teams meet and attempt to beat one another at their own game. They battle their way through the crowded parking lots, dodging elderly water polo competitors and toddler craft magicians, looking for the sliding glass doors that lead to their certain victory. To get to the courts, players and fans wind their way through a maze of humid and clogged rooms ricocheting with the squeak of rejuvenating joints and sneakers brushed clean of grit. The pressure of the air changes with every room they enter. Going from the tiled lobby to ramp of the hallway to the whir of the exercise room to the clank of the weights to the echo of the courts buffets the player’s face with various degrees of moisture and instantly gives a light coating of wet film to their skin. Their fans in the stands will vary; mothers come to yet another game, girlfriends shouting nonsensical sports slogans, various staff to ref and gossip, some of the players’ children, crack addled women befriending anyone around them. Though the metal stands are arranged in a stepping slant, there is no hierarchy here. Once your ass touches the metal grooves of frozen steel, you are pulled into the crowd and equalized. No one man has the power to drown out another, each yell becomes one unified voice, and each spectator is reminded that they are there solely to watch and support.

What will, however, ruin the entire mood of the game and probably more than one play on the court, is Dick. God loves Dick. Or at least that’s what Dick wholeheartedly believes. He has been blessed with superior intellect, prowess, speed, looks, agility, bang in the sack, etc., etc., ad infinitum to any other man on the face of the earth. He’s a masterpiece. Man, does he have it going on. It’s almost scary for the rest of the people there to even look upon him; the glare from his backlit halo is so bright in their eyes. For some stupid reason, he wasn’t chosen to be team captain, but he came tonight to remedy that. Boy, will he ever. These games matter, damn it. His team has lost the past few and he knows exactly what the problem is. Some college girls (who aren’t even attracted to him, no less! Probably lesbians) have been setting each other like they’re a team of two or some shit. Why any fool thought that he, Dick, would play ass to cheek with some amateurs is beyond him. Well, he’d show them tonight. He’s suited up; black basketball shorts, lime green athletic sweat wicking shirt, laces so tight his flesh bulges up between the strings, a light sweat V already dappling the front and back of his jersey from lifting a few light weights before the game. Badass. He could already see the fear in his opponents’ eyes. He relished how they looked away so quickly when he glared them down. He was a champion and everyone knew it. Beautiful, how his reputation preceded him. He tossed his bag against the wall, dropped to the floor and began doing a light regimen of pushups on the sideline, just to keep his heart rate up.

Unbeknownst to Dick, a wide variety of sexes and races were presently rolling their eyes at him. As he heaved heavenward and then slowly lowered his body in a ragged jerking motion, rather than staring at his magnificent and defined ass as he thought they were, the women turned to each other and began making small talk with their neighbors. The good news for Dick was that someone was indeed staring at him. Two sets of people in fact. The first was a dark figure leaning up against the stubbled concrete wall, a hand deep in the pocket of his hoodie. The second was a pair of fashionable and talented gay men working to get their daughter out of her ladybug overcoat. They shook their heads at each other as Dick emitted a satisfied grunt and rolled into a crouch on the balls of his feet to watch the other teams finish up with the court. Just about the time that Dick was about to check his watch, some of his teammates began to trickle into the room, clearly searching along the walls for a place to warm-up with their team. Dick grabbed his bag and rose to meet them, stiffening as his muscles rebelled against the strain.

Dick jogged past the stands, taking just the last second to send a wink over to one of those Latin girls up in the stands, her breasts at least a handful apiece and hanging out where she clearly wanted them to be ogled. Her hair was in cornrows, but he forgave her as soon as he saw a tattoo tucked under her jaw reading Sexilicious. She wanted it, he knew it. Good thing his battered wedding ring was safely tucked away in his gym bag. No time for that now, though. He needed to talk to those two girls before the game got going, so they would know to set the men for once. No pussyfooting around their feelings here, no sir. Dick is a take-charge kind of guy and he was going to get right to the heart of the problem. Hey, girls! Girls. I need you to start setting the guys more. I mean, you’re clearly not getting the job done the way you’re doing it, right? Dick smiled benevolently and patted one of them on the shoulder. We’re a team. Once the girls gave some signal of mild agreement or at least no resistance, Dick knew he would get what he wanted. He had a way with women that overwhelmed them and made them see the truth. As the team began lining up and spiking over the net, Dick eyeballed his opponent through the mesh barrier. One middle aged woman with her hair pulled back, elaborate jewelry and manicured nails, New Balance sneakers with pink piping. One huge, muscular, bald man with a gold chain necklace slung around his neck and black eyelashes that looked like smeared eyeliner. Two lumpy twins in matching Nike running shorts, scoop neck shirts, and bright sports bras. One man in a black cut-off T-shirt reading What’s hot? and featuring a bright red crab soaking in a hot tub, whose tramp stamp showed every time he raised his arms to serve. One fit older man who was one of those silver stallion types. The jolly bald giant might be a problem, but everyone else seemed like a minimal threat at best. Dick had never seen a pretty woman truly succeed at sports.

As the game began, the fans began shouting and clapping out their pep-talk encouragement, waiting for some solid action before they began making small change bets on who would win the game. Several girls began texting simultaneously, gasping and cackling at a lewd story that was being shared about one of the girl’s boyfriends. Between the yelling and squeals of the courts and her own excitement, her words began running together the more distraught she became. I told him we were SO over. I mean, like he could get away with that, right? We’ve been fighting for weeks, so I mean, itwasjustcomingandIdeservebetterthanthatpieceofshitwhojustwantstofuckmybestfriendlikeshewould,please. All of her friends nodded emphatically in agreement and surreptitiously texted the girl’s ex for a date. One of the addicts from the halfway house leaned over to a player’s mother and asked what church she went to. A rogue volleyball shot into the crowd and clanged into a bench, sending fans flying in every direction. Everyone shook their heads and rearranged themselves back into their seats.

Dick had already been sidelined. Furious, he paced back and forth along the margin of the court, alternately glancing at the action and muttering to the teammate benched alongside him. The damn YMCA staff had been at it again, targeting the little people, lowering the net to where even the most advanced player would have a hard time getting the ball over. What was he supposed to do? Bring a fucking stepladder and mount the thing every time he went in to play? Nobody could play with these conditions. And look at Mitchell! He barely had any muscles and they still had him playing. He looked just like a praying mantis tiptoeing around out there like he was in a ballet show or something gay like that, his mind clearly not in the game. Mitchell dove for the ball and belly flopped onto the court, earning the other team a point. You’re killing me over here, man! Dick shook his head, ran his hands through his hair and turned to his teammate. Did you see that crap? Unbelievable. We have got to get more aggressive if we want to win! He slapped the bleachers with the palm of his hand. Dick’s team tried to rally and made vigorous wind milling hand motions, laughing, and directing each another to their different spots in the rotation. They managed to get the ball across the court and just when it seemed that the other team was about to give them a point, the ball tipped over the edge of the net and plopped onto Dick’s side of the court with a wet thud. Dick felt fire all over his body, ripping through his veins and turning his body into a curling shred of anger. No, no, no, nooooo — Dick rolled to his knees and went into the fetal position on the sideline, mourning the insatiable ineptitude of his teammates. God, how they grieved him.

Up in the stands, Philippe was shaking his head, watching Dick implode into a pile of ashy fury on side of the court. Philippe was a lover, not a fighter. Dressed in a tank top with Team Weezy emblazoned on the front, a soul patch and a string of pookah shells hung around his neck, he represented peace above all else, and his simple Latin heart could not understand the frustration that shone from every feature of Dick’s face. Keeping his eye on Dick as he beat the floor with his fists, Philippe inclined his head and whispered to his partner, All this drama reminds me of dance team.

After an illegal timeout and a brief interval in the hallways to cool down his temper, Dick finally got called into the game. How ridiculous to keep the best players sitting on the bench just so the B string could get some practice. That’s how all these games were being thrown away. If the lynchpin players could just get some time on the court, then maybe this team (We Couldn’t Carry Less) would actually move up in the bracket for a change. But oh no. We have to cater to the weaker folks, make them feel better about themselves. Well, if Dick wanted to start winning, and he really did, he was going to have to help the team along as usual. I mean, good Lord (Amen), when a queer whose ankles were so flimsy he needed two ankle braces can beat you, it’s obviously time for someone experienced to step in. Someone with balls. Dick was that man. He walked along the net, brushing his fingertips against it, testing it for weaknesses and getting acquainted with its weave, knowing that he would soon conquer it. He was confident. He was prepared. He was squatting with his ass out, waiting for the other team to serve.

Every fan in the stands held their breath when Dick took to the court. They had watched him storm and grouse and bitch up and down the gym and they were prepared for an extravagant display of testosterone. The game restarted in earnest, and the ball was slamming from one side of the court to the other, the volume of the stands suddenly quieter with the teams’ increased intensity. A woman shifted from side to side, antsy as one of her friends moved to serve. They need to talk to each other more. Talk it out, guys! She clapped her hands together and leaned forward with her forearms on her knees. The woman next to her said, I think they’re doing pretty well for never practicing together. The first woman just grunted in reply.

Dick knew it was his moment. The rotation had finally arrived at his turn, and all he wanted to do was teach this ball, the team, the whole world, a lesson. Dick was going to hammer this ball so hard that an imprint of his palm would be left on it. The opposite team rolled him the ball and he bounced on his toes, spinning it in his hands after he scooped it up. This was going to be good. This was going to be great. Time flowed and spun around him, and he was an island in its center, feeling the currents shape and brush him. He tossed the ball into the air, swung his arm back in a mighty arc, and a light huff of exhalation left his nostrils. He lingered in mid stretch, reveling in the moment. He was going to school them all. They were all waiting for his move, just like a god. No. Scratch that. He was God. Dick smiled. His hand connected with the ball and his heart lifted and soared with it in a majestic arc toward the net. Gorgeous. Right as it reached the limit of his side of the court, the ball snagged the lip of the net and jarringly threw it in a broken angle toward the bleachers, where it smacked a toddler square in the face. Dick’s vision shrunk to a blind center of rage and he whirled around looking for the person who had thrown off his serve. One of his teammates came up to slap his hand and help him shake it off, but Dick wanted to punch him in the face. As if he needed that idiot’s advice. Dick rotated his head back and forth, stretching out his neck muscles and circling his shoulders, emphasizing the peak of the exercise, attempting to relieve his tension.

The fans sniggered and whispered to each other, ignoring Dick’s glowering looks as he moved to let the other team serve. A YMCA staffer leaned over to her assistant and asked, Looks like some people are having some trouble getting it up over the net. They chuckled to themselves and wrote down the score of the game that had just finished up across the gym.

Two failed dives, a mediocre spike, and three run-ins with teammates later, Dick was finished. He had nothing left to give. It felt as though all the blood had vacated his body and all that was left was dissatisfaction. When he signed up for this team, he thought it would be his chance to kick some ass, but no one seemed to understand him. How hard is it, he thought. How hard can it possibly be? He never really clarified what he meant, but deep down he knew that the question made sense. Everyone else was joking and slapping the other team’s hands, but Dick couldn’t seem to bring himself to do it. Failure wasn’t a thing worth celebrating. It wasn’t even worth acknowledging. Dick was disgusted. After he said a curt goodbye to some of his teammates, he headed to the pool bathroom just outside of the gym to wash up and replace his wedding ring. As he rounded the corner, he bumped shoulders with some douche standing right in the middle of the hallway. Watch it, would you? Dick brushed past him and his hand pushed the bathroom door open right as his head jerked back, and a violent, purple, fervent pain struck him in his crotch. A voice whispered in his ear, Take this as a sign from God, brother. Don’t take life so seriously.

Luckily for Dick, one of his adoring fans stumbled into the bathroom a few minutes later tipsy as fuck from tequila that he’d secreted in his CamelBak. As chance would have it, the voltage from the stranger’s tazer had had just enough juice to engorge and debilitate Dick, but not rupture his testicles completely. When the man opened the door, he actually hooked the end of his shoe underneath one of Dick’s now black, rigid, and distended testes and tripped into a stall before he noticed the collapsed sack of flesh moaning incoherently on the tile. Hours later, Dick limped his way out of the emergency room, an ice pack strapped to his crotch and his arm flung across his wife’s shoulders. Across the parking lot, Dick stopped short when he caught a glimpse of an oddly familiar shadowy figure watching him from underneath a lamppost. His wife glanced up at him when he paused.A small spark of electricity bounced between the posts of a distant tazer, lightly balanced in the avenging angel’s hand. Dick lowered his head, thanked his wife for her patience, and went home a much quieter man, vowing to give up volleyball completely and replace it with prayer.

 

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