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September 17, 2007

Gaining Perspective on Oden

One of the old standbys in the sports columnist's arsenal is to occasionally step back from courtside and proclaim that the sporting world needs to be put in perspective. In the wakes of 9/11 and Katrina, for example, journalists tried to outshout each other while declaring how trivial the baseball playoff races and the upcoming football seasons were. But Oregonian writer John Canzano has taken what was a shaky premise to begin with—assuming your readers are too dumb to know the difference between sports and real life—and has totally outdone his peers.

Are you a Portland Trailblazers fan bummed out because the NBA's top draft pick Greg Oden will miss his first pro season due to microfracture surgery? Then grow up and get some perspective, writes Canzano. At least you're not a homeless guy who feeds pigeons all day.

While the rest of the city cursed basketball fate, and questioned reason, and said things such as, "Good God, who needs a drink?" Birdman knelt and fed his pigeons, calling them "Hopper" and "Peeper" and the other pet names he's given them.

Tragic day for the basketball franchise, right?

Well, a few feet away, a woman reading a paperback novel on the steps of the city's center, said she came there to think because she's got financial troubles. And a group of homeless teens said they came to the square looking to score drugs so they can forget for a while. And a few blocks away, a construction crew accidentally cut into a gas line, causing an emergency evacuation of nearby buildings that could have been really bad.

Fret if you want about Oden's out-for-the-season prognosis that came out of Thursday's microfracture surgery, but before we use words such as "devastated" or "dejected," maybe we should take a walk around the city, asking ourselves if "absurd" is the better choice of words.

Gelf's going to have to agree with Canzano here. "Absurd" is definitely the best choice of words for anything related to this column.

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