Sports Night, Ep. 21

Ten Wickets

Jeremy is hanging up the phone in the editing room as Dana (the show’s producer) enters…

Jeremy: I was just talking to a guy in Trinidad.
Dana: When were you in Trinidad?
Jeremy: I wasn’t in Trinidad, the guy was in Trinidad. He was talking to me about a cricket match in New Delhi.
Dana: But–
Jeremy: Neither of us were in New Delhi. The cricket match was in New Delhi, the guy was in Trinidad, I was right here…It was incredible.
Dana: What was incredible?
Jeremy: I don’t know.
Dana: You don’t know?
Jeremy: I don’t know anything about cricket.
Dana: You don’t know anything about cricket?
Jeremy: That’s what I’m saying.
Dana: Really?
Jeremy: Yeah.
Dana: Nothing?
Jeremy: Dana, a very big sports story is happening.
Dana: Jeremy, if a very big sports story was happening, we’d know it.
Jeremy: We do know it, we just don’t understand it.

.     .     .     .

Recently, I read a story about a physical therapist who worked in a rehab faciilty who had no interest in learning about pain science because it wasn’t “her field”. This despite her work with patients in acute (i.e. total knee replacement) and chronic pain (spinal stenosis).

She doesn’t get it: there is a BIG thing happening all around her, yet she doesn’t care enough to realize it and will never understand it.

Her patients are the ones who suffer.


Sports Night, Ep. 20

Ordinance Tactics

Natalie has read a news article that has peeked her curiosity. Before her boyfriend tries to break up with her (unsuccessfully, I might add) she offers this:

Natalie: Good news. Pluto isn’t being demoted as a planet.
Jeremy: I need to talk to you. Can we go in the editing room?
Natalie: Sure.
Jeremy: Thanks.
Natalie: It was going to be demoted as a planet. It was gonna receive minor planet status. But apparently there was an outpouring of protest. Doesn’t the whole thing strike you as funny?

When a fellow (less-qualified) producer, Sally, is considered for a promotion before her:

Natalie: Good news.
Dana: What?
Natalie: Pluto’s still a planet.
Sally: It was touch and go there for a while?
Natalie: Don’t underestimate Pluto. Pluto doesn’t know the word quit.

This show was recorded in 1999, when there were new-found ‘Pluto-like’ objects in the solar system, sparking debate about what necessarily constitutes a planet. For Natalie, she sees the humor in becoming emotionally attached to labeling something that travels as far as 7.3 billion kilometers from the sun. Perhaps she understands that science is about searching for an understanding. Maybe she sees the uncertainty of Pluto’s planetary status as a painful metaphor.

In 1999, “it seem(ed) that Pluto (was) a sentimental favorite to remain a planet among both scientists and the public. However, if more trans-Neptunian objects “were” discovered that (were) even larger than Pluto, the debate (would) begin anew,” according to a NASA article published at that time. Admittedly, I was disheartened to read how a scientist’s ‘sentiment’ might play a role in developing a cogent set of rules/definitions to guide the understanding of the public in the formation of our solar system, but other ‘Pluto-like’ objects have been discovered since and the scientific community (although not always reaching a consensus), is doing their best to get it right; at least they are trying.

Much of the public in the United States, however, remain sentimental.

Sports Night, Ep. 19

Eli’s Coming

Dan is a little bit flustered…

Dan: Listen to this, and this is all I want to tell you, and then I’m not gonna say anything else. I just went down to Rebecca’s office and Steve Sisco was there.
Casey: Expanded coverage. All day, all night.
Dan: Maybe I’ll talk about it a little more than that.
Casey: Steve Sisco was in her office?
Dan: Yes.
Casey: On a Saturday?
Dan: Yes.
Casey: What’s Steve Sisco doing in her office on a Saturday?
Dan: Who cares that it’s Saturday? What’s Steve Sisco doing in her office?…The point is, Steve Sisco was in Rebecca’s office–
Casey: On a Saturday.
Dan: –on a Saturday. My girlfriend’s ex-husband was in her office on a Saturday…

Later, Dan enters another room to seek counsel from a potentially more empathetic colleague, Natalie…

Dan: Listen to this: And I’m just gonna say this and then that’s the end of it. Steve Sisco’s with Rebecca in her office right now.
Natalie: Really?
Dan: Yeah.
Natalie: On a Saturday?
Dan: What the hell–

Dan’s primary complaint is that his girlfriend is meeting with her ex-husband, but everyone keeps focusing on the fact that it is Saturday; our patient’s primary complaint is often pain, yet when they go to therapy clinics, the focus is directed at obliquities, end feels and rhythms.

Is anyone really listening?

Sports Night, Ep. 18

The Sword of Orion

There’s a lot of great stuff on Orion, the God and also the constellation. Most people only see the belt, which is formed by Delta, Epsilon and Zeta, three second magnitude stars that are equally spaced in a straight line. Beneath the belt is a line of fainter stars and of these stars, Theta isn’t really a star at all. It’s actually the brightest part of the Orion nebula. So this great pink star in the sword of Orion turns out to be something far more…complicated and interesting.  
-Jeremy Goodwin

As a child, I always wanted a telescope. For my eleventh birthday, I received one that I still own today, but I never used it as much as I thought that I would. Come to think of it, I never looked at Orion or any other constellations, for that matter. I only looked at the moon; it was easy to find.

I wonder, how many therapists practice like I once star-gazed? How many look at the moon for it’s craters and topography, but neglect the stars. How many look up from their telescopes focused on the moon to glance (with their bare eyes) at Orion and his sword? How many believe they see a star in the sword? How many understand that they are really looking at something altogether different? How many would turn their telescope toward the constellation to seek an explanation that is more complicated and interesting? How many return to work the next day to have 8 out of every 10 patients with low back pain repeat one prone extension after another with increasing application of over-pressure?

This evening, I am glad that I still have that telescope. On the next crystal clear night in an Upstate New York sky, I plan to seek out that “great pink star” and discover what a nebula looks like.

Until that night, however, I will read some more

Sports Night, Ep. 17

How Are Things In Glocca Mora?

In this episode, Dana loses control of her professional world because of the external stresses imposed upon it from her very flawed personal world. She is forced to decide between her job and her lover; for fear of losing the latter, she dismisses the former. She says:

The world in which I’m confident is running right smack into the world in which I’m not.

When I was a child, an adolescent and (later) a young adult, I was confident in myself. I believed in myself more than I believed in anything else. I believed in rugged individualism, the benefit of a strong work ethic, and that there was nothing that I could not accomplish if I set my mind to it. I was never infallible, but I would not be kept down either. I was a great man and a wonderful therapist. In the end, I lived in a world that afforded me the confidence that no man deserves.

Now (many years later), I understand that the world that I was confident in never existed, but was rather a construct of a fanciful mind that lacked the fortitude and insight to deal with the fearful reality of a humbling world filled with uncertainty. It was the world of a burgeoning scientific understanding (where I am not as important, smart, funny or witty as I once thought I was) that crashed headlong into my world of self-aggrandizement, obliterating it.

Now when I visit therapy clinics, I wonder, “Why am I the only one here who took the red pill?”

Sports Night, Ep. 16


Jeremy is going to Natalie’s house for Easter and he is a little bit nervous. One reason is that it will be the first time he meets her parents and he badly wants to be liked. Another is that his visit is going to last a very long three days. The biggest reason, however, is that he is Jewish and is fearful of the condemnation that he may receive while visiting a very Christian family while they celebrate the anniversary of the resurrection of their messiah, who just happened to be nailed to a crucifix by Jeremy’s ancestors (although, to be fair, his family is Latvian, so he feels that he has a “pretty solid alibi”).

In an effort to prepare himself for the weekend ahead, he is doing some advanced research:

(Jeremy is in the studio, standing at a table covered with food and glasses)
Dana: What’s Jeremy doing out here?
Natalie: He’s making egg-nog.
Dana: He’s making egg-nog?
Natalie: Isn’t he sweet?
Dana: Why’s he making egg-nog?
Natalie: Cause he hates it.
Dana: He doesn’t like egg-nog.
Natalie: It makes him sick.
Dana: Does he know that no one drinks egg-nog at Easter?
Natalie: He thinks that we do.
Dana: You don’t want to set him straight?
Natalie: He’s just getting the hang of it.

Somewhere, this morning, there is a physical therapist that just spent a weekend course learning manual therapy; they will work on their first patient thinking that they are “getting the hang of it” too. Just like Natalie with Jeremy, there probably won’t be anyone there to set them straight, either.

Sports Night, Ep.15

Dana And The Deep Blue Sea

Dan has fallen head over heals for Rebecca, a woman he met on the elevator who works in accounting. He has tried to charm (some might say “stalk”) her ever since their chance meeting, but she has shown no interest whatsoever. Literally, her go-to phrase is, “Dan, I’m not interested”. Dan later discovers why.

You see, Rebecca had been married to one of Dan’s colleagues and in a conversation earlier in the episode with Jeremy, she would say that sportscasters are “self-absorbed, narrow minded, immature people of limited intelligence and limitless ego.”

Dan, afforded the information that Jeremy later shared with him, went to Rebecca to set a few things straight:

Dan: How you doing?
Rebecca: Dan.
Dan: I knew I knew you.
Rebecca: Yes.
Dan: You’re Steve Sisco’s wife.
Rebecca: Ex-wife.
Dan: We were introduced once.
Rebecca: Yes.
Dan: Why have you been pretending you didn’t remember?
Rebecca: Look who’s talking. You didn’t remember me and you weren’t pretending.
Dan: Yeah, but then we met in the elevator, and you pretended you didn’t remember me after that until you did remember me later but then you didn’t want to go out with me anyway.
Rebecca: That’s right.
Dan: Because sportscasters are self-absorbed narrow-minded people of limited intelligence and limitless ego.
Rebecca: That’s right.
Dan: Let me tell you something. First of all, I’m a sports ANCHOR not a sportscaster. Second of all you married a jerk. I know about Steve Sisco. Everybody knows about Steve Sisco. Sister, you married a loser. And the fact that you think that that man’s low grade brand of manhood is anyway indicative of my profession is beneath your obvious intelligence and class. What guys like that do to women like you makes me absolutely crazy…Will you look at this? You’re working late, I have a show to do in about 10 minutes just 12 stories up. There’s no earthly reason why you shouldn’t be having dinner with me after the show. It would be midnight and we’d go to a great place and I’d ask you about your day because I genuinely do care about your day. And I’d be funny and you’d have a good time…And I can’t believe that none of that’s gonna happen ’cause once there was a time you married an idiot. I’ve got to get back to my job. Which, rest assured, I do considerably better than Steve Sisco.

Do you know anyone who went to a physical therapist and referred to their treatment as “pain and torture”? How about the patient who has been repeatedly told, “No pain, no gain!” Have you watched those same people swear off therapy, never to seek out care again, because of the discomfort associated with coercive treatment and a lack of progress/success?

Unknowingly, they married their care to the Steve Sisco of therapy and (much like Rebecca) they deserved better; they just didn’t know any better.