Burn It All Down

Link to today’s strip.

Well, my wish from yesterday wasn’t granted, and we’re back with the Mope Set.  As before, I don’t know what to make of this; I wish I’d had the arc where Funky misses the winning basketball shot, because that’s easily explainable as Tom Batiuk’s utter hatred of his title character.

Then this would be relevant:

(Larger and more satisfying version here.)

In today’s case–well, is it true that fewer high school kids are going out for football?  I have no way of knowing either way.  My impression is that sports are always popular for students.  If the numbers are falling, one thing I do know is that it’s NOT because the kids read a powerful anti-CTE story in Funky Winkerbean.

And the last two panels, again, make me wonder if we should be concerned about Batiuk’s mental state.   Much as I disdain his work, I have no animus against the man himself.  May he live long and prosper.  But what on earth is Buck talking about?  How does cancelling the football season mean that the band “wins”?  Aren’t they tied in great measure tied to one another?  Yes, there are other band activities, like the odd concert and student assemblies and so on, but the main display of the band is at sporting events.

And please tolerate a dumb question from a non-sporto, but it’s March.  Isn’t the football season already over?

As for Linda’s curtain line, does Tom Batiuk know what “Pyrrhic victory” means?  It’s when you win a war, but at such great cost to your side that it might as well be a defeat.  Trying to spin the logic here, she means no football games means, um, no band half-time shows, but, uh…there’ll be other occasional activities for the band (which the football team wouldn’t have).  So the band has marginally more stuff to do.  But there may be so few of said activities…uh, lemme think.  I guess she means that the school might consider cancelling the band as well?  Is that it?

Why would she care?  A) She’s retired.  Other than retirement pay, the school is in her past.  (Of course high school never really goes away in Funky Winkerbean, but still.)  B) She never had any interaction with the band that I can recall.  If the school cancelled football and band, why would she care either way?

In order to really have that line work, the band members would have to be actively persuading students not to join the football team.  Which is not what they spoke about.  And neither Linda nor Buck would know anything about such a scheme.  (And that kind of scheme would make a very interesting storyline, honestly…which is why we’ll never see it.  Damn.)

I keep bashing my head against this strip, trying to figure out the logic or sense behind it, and all I get is a headache.  I think Funky Winkerbean is giving me CTE.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

24 responses to “Burn It All Down

  1. Banana Jr. 6000

    Participation in high school football is down, but not by that much, and it’s not leading to many cases of schools dropping programs. The decrease is spread everywhere, so fewer students are playing football per school, which means rosters are smaller. But for the most part, high school football goes on as it always has. https://www.forbes.com/sites/bobcook/2019/08/29/high-school-football-participation-is-on-a-decade-long-decline/#3fc3f31e33de has a good discussion of what the numbers mean.

  2. Epicus Doomus

    Uh, Buck didn’t go to WHS thus he’d be unaware of the whole WHS band vs. Scapegoats football gags of the past, unless HIS school was exactly the same, which is too terrifying to contemplate. It makes no sense anyway, as it’s too slapstick to be serious and too serious to be slapstick, plus it’s not funny which renders everything else moot anyhow. I still don’t know whether he hates football, laments it, waxes nostalgic over it or what and honestly I don’t think he does either. I’m just glad he’s getting Buck out of here for now, because the wry folksiness was just killing me.

    • Charles

      He really is myopic about this, thinking that there’s no way anyone else’s high school experience could be different from his. It’s merely a matter of which stereotypical high school clique you were a part of. Therefore, when the health of the football program is brought up, of course Buck immediately contextualizes it as a Band Geeks versus Football Jocks dichotomy. It’s just like Darin bringing up “Lord of the Late” to Flash Freeman and Flash immediately knows what he’s talking about, despite the Lord of the Late being Mopey’s imaginary tormentor, so Darin himself shouldn’t even be bringing it up.

      Anyway, if I were this myopic and decided to look at the discussion in this fashion, I’d note that the soccer team “won”, and the marching band wouldn’t even enter into my thinking. I mean, hell, I would think that would make more sense generally, seeing as how if athletes weren’t playing football anymore, they’d go play other sports offered in the fall, like soccer.

  3. erdmann

    In our area, participation in football is down, but so is participation in most high school sports. In the case of football, concerns about injuries may indeed play a role, but I suspect the costs and time involved are bigger factors. The single largest factor, however, is likely that enrollment is down, in some cases dramatically.
    And yes, the football season is long over. Basketball is over. And depending on what happens with the coronavirus, the baseball season might be over before it even begins.

    Now, as for this strip, some variation on it might have worked — MIGHT, mind you — back in Act I.
    Panel 1: Funky and Crazy Harry are looking at the school paper.
    Funky: Wow! It says football signups are so low this year they may have to cancel the season.
    Panel 2: Having heard the news, and envisioning band competitions every Friday night, Dinkle celebrates.
    Dinkle: Yessss! Victory — and the football field — are MINE!!!

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I suspect the costs and time involved are bigger factors.

      This is another reason Batiuk’s “kids will join the band instead” fantasy would never work. Have you MET Harry Dinkle? He’s more obsessive and demanding than any football coach!

    • Mela

      Yes, “the band wins” definitely sounds like something Dinkle would say in Act I (or even now, since he’s still hanging around the band room).

  4. William Thompson

    “I’d panic over this, if I cared.”

  5. William Thompson

    It would be a joyful event if the band had indeed won a Pyrrhic victory, crippling itself as it drove sportsball into oblivion and earning nothing but contempt for its actions–but what does the band have to do with the decrease in football players? I want to believe that Linda is confused here, and thinks there will be a giant funeral pyre for all the participants. Remember, she studied English at Westview High!

  6. Charles

    You know, thinking about it, high school football programs are far less likely to shut down because of lack of participation than they are because school districts are going to be sued for allowing football when participation in it was doing significant lifelong damage its participants.

    And that’s when I wondered why in the hell did Linda worry about the NFL, when it’s Westview High School, if anyone, who should be paying for Bull’s care as he declines. He took way more damage to his brain playing for Westview than he did in the week he was in training camp for the Cardinals, and the strip itself showed this. It’s not as if a high school would be any less liable.

    But that would be a prestige arc with some ambiguity, which simply won’t work when Batiuk can much more easily villianize the evil NFL and not have to confront any of the potential conflicts whatsoever.

    • Epicus Doomus

      100% correct. The mean old nasty NFL is the easiest of targets, as even football fans hate “the NFL” as a corporate entity. Apparently Bull’s head injuries in high school were wacky and zany but only became serious when he briefly tried out for an NFL team. And Bull’s college football days were never even mentioned in the CTE arc. It couldn’t possibly have been any more gutless or non-confrontational. And now that Bull’s dead it’s all a big joke again, fodder for marching band gags and idiotic bobblehead references.

      And as usual all his gloating happened before the story actually ran and because no one actually reads it, it’s just assumed that it “tackled” the “CTE issue” even though it did no such thing. The CTE angle was just a way to garner some cheap shock-value attention, like Lisa and her cancer. But the NYT puff-pieces will forever claim otherwise.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        And he doesn’t even get that right! A lot of NFL families have written about how difficult it has been to get the settlement money they’re unquestionably entitled to; look up George Andrie. That would require a little retrofitting of Bull’s NFL career, but it would have been a great story angle, and brought public attention to the problem. Absolutely wasted.

        The story could have questioned the cultural importance football holds despite what we now know about the damage it does to people, even children. Nope! He couldn’t even get the symptoms right!

        All of this tossed aside in favor of an incoherent story, lame jokes, smirking, and the author’s personal wish fulfillment that kids would join band instead of playing football. Way to suck up to your one tiny constituency, Batiuk. Though I’d wager even the real-life OMEA is sick of your garbage by now.

  7. billytheskink

    See, I heard that Funky Winkerbean is a comic strip that covers serious issues with respect, humor, and wit.

    Thus proving how important it is to verify what you hear…

  8. Doghouse Reilly

    Well, gee, Linda, if you’re so concerned about the decrease in kids trying out for football, maybe you should offer to run an assembly at Westview where you can talk to the students about all the benefits that a career in football brought to your late husb…oh, wait, never mind.

  9. William Thompson

    “Plus, the team no longer has enough helmets for all its players!”

  10. Paul Jones

    Dinkle can’t be that infamous, can he? How would New Sporto To Torment know about the struggle between Dinkle and Stropp? Why do they let people who don’t know what a Pyrrhic victory is teach English? Why doesn’t Batiuk focus on characters he actually seems to care about, drop Winkerbean and focus on Crankshaft?

  11. Rusty Shackleford

    All this garbage because the author desperately wants an award. He blew his chance with Bull’s death and now he is trying again.

  12. Count of Tower Grove

    “. . . a pyrrhic victory. Think about it!” Oh wow, Todd can’t even use a tired Facebook meme properly.

  13. batgirl

    Hey, being urged to think made Buck’s head go square again! He even got his chin back, briefly.

  14. Jimmy

    This time of year is generally spring football practice.

    Regarding canceling football, my old school district scuttled the season because there weren’t enough players to safely field a team after a few of the starters were injured.

  15. Don

    The school I went to cancelled varsity football one season, and another in the school district cancelled it for three or four, because not enough kids came out. There is an annual survey of how many high schools play a particular sport; in Ohio, 65 fewer schools played 11-man football in 2015 than in 2009, although the number is slowly climbing back up.

    As for the last panel, wasn’t it a running gag that Harry Dinkle kept questioning the need for a football team, since all it did was take up field space that the band could be using for extra practice? True, this was back when the Scapegoats won about as many games as Charlie Brown (and even when they finally did win one, it ended up being forfeited because Bull’s GPA wasn’t high enough for him to be eligible to play).

  16. William Thompson

    That’s Summer Moore in the SoSF banner. Maybe her degree morphed into high-school athletics and she’s now going to become Westview’s new coach. But how can she do that without the retired coach Bull Bushka to direct her every move? Introducing Bull Bushka II, formerly known as Buck Futt! He’s turning into a squishy, goofy, mindless failure who’ll make the perfect overlord for the mere girl. Give him less height and more flab and he’ll be able to use Bull’s old ID without truble.

  17. Banana Jr. 6000

    Oh, and Batiuk managed to show that helmet a total of TEN times this week. A helmet that a man’s head was in when he killed himself in a ghastly car crash. Which Buck was given by the dead man’s wife as a souvenir, and is now carrying like he’s going to score a touchdown with it. This doesn’t just undermine the emotional weight of the story, it is beyond tasteless.

  18. ian'sdrunkenbeard

    Today’s strip reminded me of something funny:

  19. Banana Jr. 6000

    George Orwell said “the future is a boot on a human face, forever.” If it’s Les Moore’ face, I can get behind that.