LAX Attacks!

One of the citizens of Fond du Lac, Wis., King C. Gillette, spent years perfecting a disposable steel razor. His famous adage was to give out razors — and sell razor blades.

I think there are more efficient ways of barbering the consumer so that he hardly feels the blade. For example, imagine an item sold to a child who has no concept of the value of the dollar. The child’s parents have no concept of the value of the item. Imagine also that, contrary to King Gillette’s experience, the item needs sharpening.

What am I talking about? Hockey, of course.

Its equipment must be handled tenderly before the young player breaks it spectacularly.

And sharpening? Oh, the hours I have spent at a shop waiting for a man named Bob to sharpen the blades just so! It costs not only in time, but also in all the toys and gee-gaws that Bob, no fool he, piled in front of him while he worked.

I am sitting next to one of these, a device called a Slap Shot Toothbrush and Puck Holder, packaging made in Taiwan, that we absolutely had to have. And I know where the packaging was made because the package was never opened. The $6 we spent on it is considered a revenue extender of the sharpening department. I bet no one has ever opened a slap shot toothbrush.

Hockey dads are not the only foolish culprits. Hockey moms are no picnic. They drive in Suburbans all week so that on weekends they can take junior to Greenland for a scrimmage. Our nation will never control its energy consumption while our youth consort with the Sisterhood of the Traveling Gas Shortage.

(I am married to a hockey mom, and it is not all bad. Aside from acquiring a surprising taste for Old Milwaukee Light, tolerance for bad locker room smells and a deep foghorn voice from yelling at referees, she seems like a very nice lady. )

Then came Lacrosse.

I had long thought that hockey was the ultimate predator of the wallet, but now a new, more perfect menace stalks the land. Lacrosse. An ancient sport that combines all the lovely competitive attributes: speed, grace and crushing brutality.

There is a destructive force in lacrosse — not the on the field, but in the mind. And that force is hope.

See, in hockey, the parents are most vulnerable to hope at the child’s seventh year. Then, all the kids wobble on the ice. They aim, shoot — and fall down. The dads are convinced that this is performance worthy of the NHL. But by 14 or so, even the most craven father stops buying the hockey toothbrushes unless there is some future in the game.

But lacrosse is new. Schools are just starting programs, the NCAA is just televising it. There are pro teams even. So 16-year-old kids are leading hapless dads into sports stores so that 17-year-old clerks, like medicine men poring over chicken entrails, can inspect the webbing on a $135 stick and declare that only a $125 restringing can bring it back to life. Coaches are now joining the fun, filling lacrosse team meetings with brochures for their video editing services (“Get in the play — DVD your kid today!”).

And here is the evil part: only after shelling out the money does one learn that the Division 1 level of Lacrosse has about four teams and the other divisions are equally competitive. By adding a team a year, someone in the NCAA has figured that Lacrosse’s growth figures will be astronomical because Dads will happily spend $50,000 on the slim hope of a $5,000 scholarship.

My new adage:
Hope for glory fleeces faster than a safety razor.

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