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30 January 2007 @ 09:59 pm
Sam Anders and Pyramid  
Was I supposed to be working on fic today? Why yes, I was. But I did this instead.

Some of these thoughts have been percolating in my head for a long time. I caught a comment by raincitygirl that prompted me to write this down. She's not wrong, by the way, -- I agree that the Sam we've seen is both calmer and seemingly less ego-driven than a player of his apparent elite professional sports player status would suggest. But following is an elaboration of my explanaton (read: fanwanking) for the difference, and some more general thoughts on Pyramid. And much gratuitous talk about basketball.

And please, if you have something to add or you disagree, feel free. That's what I meta for -- discussion. I'm hardly pontificating, y'know? It's a t.v. show, and God knows, we all see a different show, and I'm not so attached to what I'm saying here that I won't change my mind.

That said, if you think Anders is Teh Suck, this is probably not for you.

Sam Anders and Pyramid

What do we know about Sam pre-attack on the Colonies? Not a whole lot. We know he played for the Caprica Buccaneers, a professional Pyramid team. Given that the team is not the "Delphi Raccoons" and one of their opponents was Aerilon, I presume it was some sort of "national"/planetary team, like our Olympics team or perhaps a Football (soccer) national team. In other words, it may be a team made up of professional players who play on separate teams as a usual practice, but get together to train for a tournament. I think this makes some sense -- given the unstable relations between the Colonies, it seems logical that an attempt at "peace through sport" was made, either a long time ago on the Olympic model, or perhaps more recently in the wake of the first cylon attack and unification of the Colonies.

No one has ever spoken of Sam's "original" team (i.e. he didn't play for "Caprica City United"), so the Buccaneers may be a team playing in a permanent league, not just formed for a tournament. But in any case, Anders is definitely a player with some status.

Neither Kara nor Helo recognized Sam or any of the other players until Sam gave his name, though that could be simply because they were so out of context (not to mention all holding guns), but once Helo's memory was nudged by the name, he identified them all. So the Bucs have enough fame that a fan will recognize them. I'm not sure that a casual fan or fan of another team would recognize Sue-Shaun in the grocery store, so they may not have been that famous, though they may have been. But we're certainly not given any hints later in other people's reactions to Anders that he's famous at the pop culture level. He's not, say, the equivalent of David Beckham or Tiger Woods.

Kara also says the Buccaneers "suck": they "can't shoot, can't pass, and can't take the point." The latter she says to Sam, on the way past, and could indicate the position he plays. How seriously we should take the "you guys suck" comment, I don't know -- Kara mocks a lot, but she was also scouted as a potential pro herself, so she should know. She may have very high standards. Note that she knew how many "foul breaks" Anders had against Aeliron (which very well might have been the last game they played before the Cylon attack) -- she might think they suck, but she still follows the stats with a true fan's diligence. Compare to me: I count myself a fan in basketball, I can give you the current standing of my team and I look for how well my favorite players did in the game, but unless it's unusual I have no idea how many shots each took or how many turnovers they had. Kara probably played "fantasy pyramid" -- she's that kind of a fan.

But let's take a look for a moment at playing "point". And here yes, I'm speculating like whoa. Because we know very little about Pyramid, especially as it's played by a team. So I'm going to compare it to basketball. A possibly specious comparison, but Pyramid is played by five-person teams, and so is basketball, and well, the writers are (mostly? all?) Americans so it's not too likely they're using hockey or soccer as a reference. In basketball, the point guard's job is to bring the ball up the court, he calls the play, and usually passes the ball to a forward closer to the basket. The best point guards 'run the floor', keeping an eye on everyone, their own team and the opponent and can anticipate where an opening will be to thread the ball through. Assuming the position is anything akin in Pyramid, we can probably assume that Sam has some tactical and spatial skills and a good ability to think on his feet, skills which he found very handy in the resistance.

One of my favorite players EVER is John Stockton, former point guard for the Utah Jazz. I have absolutely no idea what he's really like as a person, but while he was playing he certainly came across in interviews as a man attached to his family with a deep abiding love for the game. When he was injured in one of his last seasons, he dressed in civvies and still came to the games. He was, near as I could tell, practically acting as an assistant coach -- he was in the huddles at time outs, for example. I'm sure he didn't have to be there, but he came, partly I think, because he saw himself as one of the veterans who could help the youngsters settle. He had been playing basketball, at the pro level, for almost twenty years at that time. He was rarely visibly upset, and he was far more likely to go tell other people to chill than to need other people to tell him that. A person who doesn't know better might see his lack of emotion and attention to other things as a lack of competitive spirit, but that would be wrong. You don't stay a professional in a sport if you don't want to win. (and oh my, was he an expert at the 'flop' so it's not like he wasn't above manipulating the rules of the game to win, either).

Why bring him up? Because Sam reminds me of him. Anders isn't a young kid in the league, going after the bling and showboating his way onto SportsCenter. (As added support, I'll point out that he doesn't have a 'showboat' nickname like many of his team-mates: Helo identifies him as "Samuel T. Anders" not "T-Bone Anders" or something like that.) He's in his thirties. He's a veteran. He has about ten years of being a pro already behind him and been playing for a very long time, probably since childhood at one level or another. And that experience means that he can self-motivate when he deems it important, and let it go the rest of the time.

We see this when he plays Kara in 'Resistance.' He's reluctant to play her at first, until he learns that she can handle it. Then he plays to win. In a different way, we see the competitive streak surface when he pwns Lee in "Eye of Jupiter." He saw the weakness and he slam-dunked the ball right into it.

And I think we see this in general in the mere fact that he started an operation to resist the occupation of Caprica. He knew he couldn't 'win' (both times), but he fought anyway. The fight -- not giving up -- was the important part. How many of us heard our coaches say when our team is down by twenty points that you can't throw in the towel? "The surest way to lose is to give up." I'm sure Sam heard all those sports cliches too, and he believed. What's more, he could make other people believe too, because he kept a lot of people going, fighting an unwinnable war.

That is not to say that he didn't give up, because in a sense he did. He didn't believe Adama was coming back to New Caprica (and had no problem throwing that in Tigh's face either). But that's a belief in another person; he didn't give up on his own ability to fight the Cylons, even though logically it was more probable that Adama would return than the resistance would defeat the Cylons. And that belief in oneself to change things rather than put the trust in other people, quite simply, is egotism. It's not a bad thing - we all need some of it - but I don't think ego is something that Sam lacks. He's just more mature about it.

But how could a person with any kind of ego allow Kara to dictate to him as he has? you ask. And yes: particularly after 'Exodus', he has exhibited a great deal of restraint and patience where she's concerned. First of all, he loves her, and he understands that pressuring her is the surest way to make her leave. I also think he wants to 'win' her. If he had a fan club, or he had groupies, he probably was not very accustomed to being the chaser or the dumped. Kara's ambivalence may be something new to him. You'd think after being treated badly, he'd just give up and move on, but he hasn't. Instead he keeps trying something different. Also, now that he knows for certain that Lee's in the picture, he also has a rivalry thing going with him. That seems, to me, to be evidence of being perhaps a little too competitive for his own good. He doesn't want to lose, waiting and trying and hoping that, this time, he's found the right play that will get Kara back.

However, refusing to lose is not quite the same thing as playing to win, and that could be why Kara thought the Bucs sucked. A team takes its attitude from its leader, Anders in this case. If the Bucs played not to lose, they might not have been very showy and they might have been beaten by more aggressive teams (although we don't actually know whether they won or lost any games at all). In real life, the Charlotte Bobcats just beat the Lakers, again, even though they suck (sorry, any Bobcats fans, I love me my Adam Morrison, but your team is awful), because they really wanted to win and the Lakers didn't care enough. It happens.

Even if none of the above is true, for someone like Sam, who went from training for the next game/season of Pyramid to the End of the Frakkin World, I would bet that a lot of things that used to be important, suddenly weren't. His 'game face' -- his intensity and focus -- became reserved for the fight against the Cylons, and playing Pyramid became a stress release. You'll notice he still put in a court on both Capricas, and it would not surprise me at all to find out that he put in a court wherever he is when he's not in Kara's bunk.

So, in sum, yes, I think it's possible that he was both an elite player and he became the cool fighter dude we have now. Could the writers do a better job of blending the two?

Does the sun rise in the east? *G*

entertaining in a disturbing way: Anders sweetlyssie on January 31st, 2007 01:02 pm (UTC)
Word, baby. Word.

And he had a fan club.
samanthamarie88: pic#55642389samanthamarie88 on January 31st, 2007 09:55 pm (UTC)
Loved the basketball references. Being a Detroit Pistons fan, I'm substituting Chauncey Billips for John Stockton though.

Of course, Sam had a fan club. And lots and lots of groupies vying for his attention.

lizardbeth: Kara-Anders IIlizardbeth_j on January 31st, 2007 10:46 pm (UTC)
Chauncey Billips. hmpf. Fine, if you must. *sticks out tongue*

I am love with the image of teenage girls with Sam's poster on their wall and doing pretty much exactly what we do, just with Sam-as-famous-athelete. Cuz good player, team captain, *AND Smokin' HOT*, is an unbeatable combo.

I bet Kara was posting in his forum with a username of Starbuck for years before the Cylon attack. And Sam figured it out, and is waiting for the opportunity to tease her about it.

OMG, crack!Fic idea! Kara used to write RPF for the Buccanneers! *snorfle* cuz you know RPF just had to exist on Caprica, too.
entertaining in a disturbing way: co-official batshitlyssie on January 31st, 2007 11:29 pm (UTC)
THERE IS PYRAMID RPF OUT THERE. ...I typed that before reading your second two paragraphs.

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH. That would be awesome. You write it.