Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Last year, Drive and Dish published a detailed scouting report on Santa for Christmas Eve. The scouting report gave a brief historical background on both Santa Claus, and several national and cultural traditions that are based on the life of Saint Nicholas. It then commenced by providing a semi-thorough scouting report of Santa Claus' strengths, weaknesses and tendencies as a basketball player.
Although the post went largely unnoticed at the time of its publishing, it has generated a fair amount of web traffic over the last few weeks. The post's history of Santa Claus and the various St. Nicholas-based traditions has attracted some interest, but nearly 70 percent of the web surfers who've clicked on the post have done so after they conducted an image search and found the following picture of Santa Claus dunking a basketball:
Since so many people have found Drive and Dish's 2007 scouting report on Santa, we thought we would be well advised to provide an updated scouting report on Santa for Christmas Eve 2008.
For the history of Santa Claus go here and here. For Santa's Wikipedia page go here. For the history of Saint Nicholas go here and here. For St. Nicholas' Wikipedia page go here. To read about Saint Nicholas and the evolution of Santa Claus, go here and here.
Scouting Report on Santa for Christmas Eve 2008:
As for our updated scouting report, little has changed in the last year, at least in terms of Santa's strengths. Santa is still old and fat, but he hasn't lost his amazing, near other-worldly powers. And despite his advanced age and rotund physique, Santa still has the ability to defy gravity -- albeit with the assistance of his reindeer and sleigh. Still, even Michael Jordan in his prime didn't quite have the kind of hang time that Santa does. Santa's ability to soar through the air is unparalleled. And Santa is still as quick as a flash. Who else can traverse the entire globe over the course of a single night? Sure, it's true that Santa doesn't have to make stops in Saudi Arabia, North Korea, or Iran (he's not allowed in those countries anyway), but he goes just about everywhere else! Even Allen Iverson and Derrick Rose can't cover that kind of ground in such a short amount of time.
And Santa gets the better of Iverson and Derrick Rose on another front: Iverson and Rose may both be amazingly adept at identifying and attacking open seams in defenses, but nobody can fit his body through tighter seams and openings than Santa Claus. After all, the jolly old guy with the belly that jiggles when he laughs (like a bowl full of jelly) is able to sneak into peoples' homes and dish out presents by hurling his portly self, along with his bag full of presents, down their chimneys. Talk about threading the needle!
And since we're on the subject of Santa's amazing ability to dish out of presents, Drive and Dish has to hand it to the big guy: he is, without a doubt, the greatest distributor in the history of the game. Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Deron Williams and Chris Paul drop some crazy dimes, but they've got nothing on Santa Claus' ability to drive (his reindeer and sleigh) and dish (presents)! And considering Santa's propensity to quickly fly back up the chimney and take off in his sleigh after he's placed presents under the Christmas tree, we've got to consider him the greatest practitioner of "give and go" who ever lived . . . even better than John Stockton!
However, the global economic meltdown may have hurt Santa's game in ways that his advanced age, excessive body weight, and poor training/dietary habits (does Santa really have to chow down on milk and cookies at every house he visits?) have not. As such, Santa may not be capable of producing the kind of output on Christmas Eve 2008 that the world has come to expect from him. Make no mistake: Santa has been remarkably consistent over the years. And if anything, his production has actually increased as time has worn on -- especially in the economic boom years of the 1980's, 1990's and early/mid 2000's. But just as even the best basketball players are susceptible to having the occasional rough outing (although, in his prime, Jordan never really had one), Santa is bound to have an off night once every decade or so. And though Santa is still quite impressive, even on his off nights, it must be noted that he is capable of being knocked slightly off his game -- particularly during economic downturns and recessions. Remember, the Depression era 1930's were a pretty rough decade for Santa, at least by his standards. Santa was still great in the 30's (and his appeal as a corporate product endorser was as great as ever -- he was a "can't miss" pitchman long before Michael Jordan's name graced the first pair of Air Jordans), but there's no question that his production dropped off. And in the early 1940's, the difficulties presented by World War II prolonged Santa's era of diminished stats. It wasn't until America's economy rebounded at the end of World War II that Santa enjoyed his career renaissance. But once he rounded back into top form, he was unstoppable (1947 was a particularly sweet year for St. Nick: he was named Comeback Player of the Year and he was the subject of the classic film Miracle on 34th Street).
So Drive and Dish is predicting that, given the current tough state of the economy, Santa may be more susceptible than usual to having one of his off nights. But remember, an "off night" by Santa's standards is still pretty magical. Santa will still be productive, regardless of whether he's got his "A-game" going. After all, he's still Santa Claus! Nevertheless, it is possible that his 2008 production won't quite be up to the lofty standards that the world has come to expect from Santa Claus.
On the other hand, we can't rule out the possibility that Santa will come out and surprise the world with another dazzling performance. Ever the prime time player, Santa has always been the kind of guy who thrives on adversity and pressure. As the saying goes, "when the going gets tough, the tough get going." And Santa has had some of his best moments amidst the toughest of circumstances. Never forget: Santa Claus is a big time, money player. It's never a good idea to bet against Santa. Like Michael Jordan, Santa is THE MAN.
In the final analysis, Drive and Dish expects another typical solid outing by Santa Claus, even though the "experts" are predicting a down Christmas. Santa is an old pro. Even when the chips are down, Santa finds a way to come through. Year after year, he exhibits the kind of gritty leadership one expects from a grizzled veteran. And he should -- after all, St. Nick has been in the game since the 4th Century! So although circumstances could prevent 2008 from proving to be a banner year for St. Nick and his Christmas Express, we can say with certainty that Santa Claus will do whatever he can to conjure up his A game this Christmas Eve and that he'll give it everything he's got tonight. That much is simply a "given." And who knows, maybe Santa will surprise everybody with yet another special outing.
Never bet against Santa!