I am, by nature, a sunny side up kind of gal. I believe there is a basic benevolence to the universe and that the true nature of all its components is goodness. A go-to explanation of mine paraphrases Sharon Salzberg – all beings want to be happy and that urge is righteous. However, ignorance is a strong force, leading people down the wrong paths in the pursuit of happiness.
The more I read and observe, the harder it is for me to remain optimistic for the future of the United States.
I am, of course, stepping way outside of my wheelhouse here to talk about football.
I think we’d all be better off without it and I know the NFL is heir to the tobacco companies’ mantle of shame for covering up deadly side effects. It’s the only game I wouldn’t let my son play and news over the last few years has justified my unpopular decision.
But like every good hypocrite, I celebrate the national holiday called The Superbowl, even if it’s only for the commercials, half time show, and tasty snacks.
In the run-up to the big game, I read and heard stories about the two quarterbacks, a position someone told me is like the CEO of the football team. On one team, you have Peyton Manning: white, conservative, Christian dude who has been around awhile. On the other is Cam Newton: young, African-American, flashy dude who recently burst onto the scene. My first hint about the complexity of this quarterback issue came from an interview on NPR with columnist Kevin Blackistone. Here’s is the transcript, here is the audio:
Hm. I thought. It’s a sign of our times.
Then I read this article from The Daily Beast, about how the saintly Manning’s past, calling into question his temper, his behavior, and the treatment he receives by institutions and the media.
It makes me laugh that some “go fetch my vapors” mom in Nashville doesn’t like Newton’s dance moves and what it teaches her daughter. Personally, I’d subject my daughter to some taunting of Titans fans over Manning’s locker room behavior and subsequent slander any day of the week.
But really, who encourages their children to look to football players as role models anyway?
Then, during the big game I saw a tweet from Chuck D:
And that solidified what had been bothering me this year.
People were watching this game like it was more than the Superbowl – it was an avenging of the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. It was a grand jury deciding not to indict a police officer. It was God Himself weighing in on the #blacklivesmatter movement.
It was a chance to put them back in their place.
Then the post-game coverage. Newton was a brat who walked out of a press conference. Some other football guy used the racially charged term boy when addressing Newton on Twitter.
Then the counter story. Six years ago, Manning walked off the field after a Superbowl loss while his teammates congratulated the winning team. And no one called him boy.
Most of all, no one’s paying attention to this photo of a smiling Newton congratulating Manning.
And now, in the wake of all this myth-making, we’re supposed to be fighting about Beyoncé.
(again, I ask… what liberal media??)
Enough, people. Ignorance is a strong force, indeed.
Check your thoughts on this. Check your sources. Check your assumptions, your privilege, your emotional investment in all this. Or, if you want the sloganeering: