the intersection of sports and society.

sports has always been an outlet for me. i remember as a kid, playing sports was that one escape, whether it was playing basketball or baseball with my neighbors or trading cards with my friends.

i loved the element that sports brought into my life. the aspect of teamwork, the hard work, the dedication the elite athletes have toward their craft – all of this was inspiring to me. i always thought of sports as the one area of my life that couldn’t get messed with by “real life”.

and now…

we have donald sterling.

the ncaa.

social media.

tim tebow

johnny manziel.

it doesn’t really seem like it’s really about the game anymore. it seems like it is all about the money, the fame, how to get as many “likes” and “follows”.

sports has long played a huge role in society, of course. these days, its role is even more important

 jackie robinson, muhammad ali, jesse owens, joe louis.

these names are synonymous with sports and society. you cannot really think of one without how they spurred social change, or maybe simply social outrage in some cases. but now, it seems that what is important is not necessarily standing up for social change, but standing up for social media. it’s not about what good sports does for society anymore. the way issues are portrayed these days is embarrassing. what amounts to an issue – what is considered news – is even more embarrassing.

tim tebow prayed to jesus and that was considered controversial. why? who cares?

johnny manziel loves to party. so? why do we care so much?

it’s not just about how disgraceful it is that the dallas cowboys still call themselves ‘america’s team’ or that no one truly still likes the new york yankees (even though, as a detroit tigers fan, i still respect the yankees, 27 championships is… well… 27 championships).

it’s more than that.

we have always longed for our best athletes to take more of a social standing in our communities. we begged for michael jordan to make statements and take a stance on issues. i suppose he was right when he said “republicans buy shoes too”, but is it always about the shoes? probably today he would say something like “republicans have twitter too”. 

there is still more that can be done. i respect lebron james for organizing the miami heat’s stance for trayvon martin and again lebron and chris paul for speaking so strongly against donald sterling. the intersection between sports and society is as volatile as it has ever been. with the rise of social media and the access fans have to their favorite athletes, these stars have a much more important role in society than ever before.

the notion that athletes are just sports stars and should not be involved in society is silly.

i threw out donald sterling’s name (i’d like to just throw him out entirely). i don’t really have anything to add that hasn’t been said already. i’m just curious why it took a billionaire saying a mean thing about another wealthy person for anyone to notice what a deplorable man he is. because of his role in sports, there was an opportunity to expose him years ago. i suppose the articles that have been written about him over the years about his horrendous treatment of the impoverished were not enough. who cares about the poor right? it’s not so much of a race issue as it is a issue of classes.

rich vs. poor.

as long as we aren’t poor then as a society, i guess it doesn’t matter. insult a rich black man? an american icon? then we have a problem, don’t we?

sports and society will always be intertwined of course. i hope that we don’t lose sight of the importance that it plays.

un-hinged.

these are fascinating times aren’t they? the world just seems a little un-hinged. just a little bit.

we want to be connected, but really only digitally. that’s what is so nice about facebook and twitter and linkedin, we don’t actually have to “talk” to people, we don’t have time for that, or the desire.

we want to fight for justice and freedom, but mainly from our macbooks and ipads. we criticize the good for pointing out the bad. we tear down jason russell as if he is the bigger threat to children than joseph kony.

we mock tim tebow for… praying. nevermind the hundreds of players we’ve seen “tebow-ing” through the years. just don’t tell me anymore that america loves a feel-good story. as soon as we can find a reason to cut into a person, trust me… it will happen.

the other day i was watching fox news and of course they were complaining about the “liberal media” controlling who wins the white house, that is to be expected from them. however, unbelievably, they attempted to make a connection tying obama using the outrage from the trayvon martin case to springboard his re-election campaign. really? a bit of a reach i’d say. even for fox news. it is sad how a young man walking the street at night, and against geraldo rivera’s wishes is wearing a hoodie, with his skittles and ice tea could suddenly become a danger not only to a community but to the conservative base of america. 

which leads me to this. how proud are we of our treatment of our leaders in office? it’s humorous how often people think they know better than the man in charge. this goes back decades if not centuries, we always think we know best until we have to do it ourselves. it is amusing to watch senators and congressman and mayors and… rush limbaugh or sean hannity… criticize someone for the job they themselves have never done nor have the desire or even ability to do. what is the term our mother’s taught us? if you don’t have a solution to the problem you are complaining about, just shut up? i think it goes something like that.

we are in a strange world these days. unlike any other. we fight active apathy with facebook campaigns. in america we wonder “how would that ever work?” yet it did in egypt, didn’t it? goodness, they are naming their children facebook in egypt because of how much it worked. it is a scary world these days too. we don’t really know what is next anymore. it isn’t the cookie cutter world we are used to. and it’s not just because of 9/11. it is because we have become engulfed against each other. our focus is becoming more about hearing ourselves being right instead of doing what is right. our moral obligations to each other have been thrown out the window.

our world has become un-hinged just a bit.