Make sure to bring game along with the trash talk

    Several times during the past three vendor fairs on Library Walk, I’ve found myself at the tent that sells posters. With all the time I’ve spent in that tent, it’s hard to believe that the walls of my room during each of the past two years have been so bare … until now, that is.

    The guy who sells the posters brings the same collection each time, and you would think that after I’ve seen his stuff during the fall quarter vendor fair that I wouldn’t need to stop and look through them again in the winter and spring. But there was one picture that seemed to have some magnetic effect on me.

    Every time I came across it, I pulled it out of the pile of the other inferior posters, stepped back, and this feeling of awe came over me when I looked at white-trunked Muhammad Ali standing over down-and-out Sonny Liston with the best game face that sports fans have ever seen. Then my eyes wandered to the upper-left corner of the photograph and the words, “”First minute, first round,”” remind me that Ali was definitely the “”greatest”” at what he did: getting inside people’s heads with his trash talking outside the boxing ring, and then beating them up inside it.

    So after many moments of long, deep thought and asking myself, “”Should I buy it or not?”” the best $10 decoration a room could have hangs over the head of my bed.

    Why is Ali and this classy black-and-white picture the “”greatest””? The answer is simple. Ali talked trash with every breath he took, and he backed it up as he dropped just about every opponent that he faced.

    A game takes on a facelift when good trash talking comes into the picture. When a competitor directs something like, “”You got nothin’!”” at you, even the most meaningless pick-up game takes on importance. Fighting words will never fail to settle deep inside you like a bad meal from Revelle’s Plaza Cafe.

    However, talking trash is an art. You can’t just say things like “”Yo momma.”” You need something that’s half-way poetic and requires some thought. You need something that will sting like a bee.

    Ali’s words were never anything short of greatness. Ali, formerly known as Cassius Clay, once sang to Liston before their bout in 1965, “”Clay comes out to meet Liston/ And Liston starts to retreat/ If Liston goes back any further, he’ll end up in a ringside seat.”” How could hearing that not eat at an athlete like Liston, and give him endless motivation to teach Ali a stern lesson.

    But then Liston would climb into the ring, jump out of his corner, and would just seconds later find out as he fell to the mat that Ali had a solid right to sing and talk trash.

    Had Ali talked himself up as much as he did and then lost a boxing match, he would be nowhere near greatness. In fact, I would be tempted to call him the “”worst.””

    You can’t talk trash and then not back it up. I can’t help but laugh at the people I see on the playground talking about their “”mad skills”” before stepping onto the court, where they later show during the game that they actually have no skills.

    But at least they tried to talk trash. At least they gave the game some meaning. Trash talking brings out the best competitive spirit from all athletes, and the game all of a sudden has purpose. The addresser has something to prove, and the addressee has a lesson to try to teach.

    Talking trash always lights a fire beneath anyone who hears you, and the flame won’t go out until you come out on top (or until you take a pummeling and hit the mat like Liston did).

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $200
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $200
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal