Sideline Slants

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JOE KLEINSASSER
It probably wasn’t a good sign when my agent, I.M. Slick, unexpectedly stopped by to see me the other day.


Joe: How come I’m being honored by your presence today? Does Sports Illustrated want to hire me as a columnist?


Slick: Believe it or not, that’s not why I’m here. I’m here to apologize.


Joe: About what? Not landing a job for me at SI?


Slick: I’ve been a tad hard on your fine state, Kansas.


Joe: Well, you have been more than a little hard on us from time to time.


Slick: To that I plead guilty. I admit I’ve accused your state of being a little flat and dull. But I’m ready to offer an apology. I’ve since learned that when it comes to creativity, Kansas doesn’t take a backseat to anyone.


Joe: You never apologize. Why would you now?


Slick: I know, I know. It takes a big man to admit when he’s wrong. It just goes to show you that everyone, even I.M. Slick, can be wrong.


Joe: I still find it hard to believe that you’ll apologize. What’s the catch?


Slick: Let me see if I have this straight. Kansas is having budget troubles right?


Joe: That’s what we’re told.


Slick: And in an effort to help balance the budget, the state legislature has tripled traffic fines, right?


Joe: It is a little bit of an unusual strategy. But state officials estimate the new fines will raise about $16 million.


Slick: What if drivers slow down and police write fewer tickets? What if there isn’t enough income from traffic fines? Will the legislature quadruple fines next year? Or better yet, do you suppose Kansas law enforcement will target out-of-state license tags?


I can see it now. An officer hands a ticket to a Colorado driver who is shocked by the amount of the traffic fine. On the back of the ticket are the words, “Y’all come back now, you hear?” It gives a whole new meaning to the words “Ahh Kansas.”


Maybe your state should try some new words to the classic state song “Home on the Range.” Like this: “Where often is heard, a discouraging word and the traffic courts will make you pay.”


Joe: Now wait just a minute. If you’re so smart, do you have a better idea?


Slick: Actually, I do. Since your state is into creative financing, why not take it a step further? Hire sportsmanship police to fine sports fans $10 every time they complain about an official’s call. Charge them $15 if they verbally abuse an opposing player. Fine them $20 if they yell at their own children.


You might as well fine coaches $25 every time they lose a game. You’re guaranteed some good money there.


Then you could fine officials $10 every time they miss a call. No, you’d better make that $1 for every missed call or they’ll go broke.


Fine a kid $1 every time he or she misses a free throw. Fine them $1 for a turnover in basketball, a fumble, interception or missed tackle in football, a bad serve in volleyball, a strikeout or error in baseball, a missed 3-foot putt in golf, or a double fault in tennis.


I tell you there’s some serious money to be made. If your legislature is willing to triple traffic fines, they’ll certainly buy into these ideas.


You won’t have to worry about packing them high and tight. Your state will be rolling in dough.


Joe: Enough already. I can take a good joke. You’ve had your laugh. Now you can go on your way.


Slick: I was thinking you could propose these ingenious ideas in a column and take the credit when they become law.


Joe: That’s OK. I’ll pass on that.


Slick: Why? You don’t think the legislature will fall for it?


Joe: Hardly. I’m afraid that they might.

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