Suddenly a reacts to social injustice by tearing down history and mandating systemic change. But that won’t help, because the problem stems from history deeper than our own, while the solution really isn’t that deep at all.
Bravo to Bruce Hooley’s opening sentence from his Monday column, Are You Ready For Some Football…And Activism With It?
“Stick to sports”, he wrote, referencing the attitudes of people who seek to avoid opinion contrary to their own…about subjects they’d rather not read.
Where ‘stick to sports’ is concerned people have directed that same sentiment in the past to yours truly when I’ve written something that rubs them raw. And these are the times (plural) when everywhere you look you see subjects about which we’d rather not read. If only we could stick to sports, as Bruce wrote.
But even sports, like buying a melon at Krogers, is now compromised – threatened – by the attitudes of this day. It’s not simple, not comfortable, like being stared at when you examine produce and put it back in the bin – like standing at the automatic checkout without wearing a mask.
Sports is no longer play, a diversion from the cares and worries of our lives. It’s no longer fun. Read about NASCAR this week. Any fun there?
Read about MLB, and owners mandating play of a 60-game season on their terms…because the two sides have run out of time and patience for compromise. You sense any fun there?
Read about all the opinions concerning football, protests, and platforms by athletes who say, “You either change a plaque in the park, or a symbol on campus or we’re not playing.” Any fun there?
And so…so much for sticking to sports.
Because almost on cue following Hooley’s Monday column comes an email from reader David Waller, who was kind enough to say, “Feel free to post my opinion along with my name.” He added: “I’m not ashamed.”
I’ve known David since we were in school. In fact, when I was ten he gave me my first copy of The Sporting News. It was love at first sight and that year for Christmas all I asked for was a subscription – $5.00 for a year! So you see, David has some equity with me.
He wrote: “I think we need to pray for sports and our athletes, that they can provide an example through competition and fair play. If we can play together peacefully, and respectfully, we can live together in the same manner. I think sports can be the source of understanding through young people, the next generation of adults. I don’t have much hope for the ones we have now.”
His email was a good one. But I hasten to add…that his prayer has been the mantra of the Ohio High School Athletic Association for several years now. Borrowing Biblically, that if we raise a child up in the manner of positive values and fair play it will not depart from that training afterwards. But it doesn’t work for everyone.
And for that reason I will share that while I believe in prayer, personally, the issue of prayer might miss the mark if one directs it at sports, specifically. For I believe…that if you believe it’s the answer, direct it at the person who plays football, not football itself.
For these issues we have – hate, injustice, and racism – cannot be fixed by mandated behavior or tearing down statues. Hate, injustice, and racism are all issues of the heart, and not some system. It’s what’s in a person’s heart that determines actions like those of Derek Chauvin.
You want to pray for change? Pray that people take personal responsibility for their own lives and their own actions. Better yet, learn for yourself that your actions and words result in positive change for your community, and thereby for your country.
Parents, teach your children that from day one they have an opportunity and a responsibility to grow and live with an attitude of positive self-determination. And it sure helps if there’s a dad actually there…to teach! Regardless of how you start, you really can become anything you want to be – better than depending on government to feed, heal, and provide for their daily existence.
Teach them that every person has a responsibility not to be a burden on their community, and their country. If we do that we wipe out the attitude of “you get yours the same way I got mine.”
Teach them that it won’t be easy. Teach them that there will be obstacles along the way, and that nothing good comes without some sacrifice, like we’ve said forever. State of mind? There’s no obstacle that can’t be overcome through determination and discipline. And who can argue when millions have already done it?
And teach them that there will be exceptions – the physically and mentally disadvantaged. Teach them about helping those who truly can’t help themselves. Teach them that it can come as naturally as contempt and neglect. Put some ‘gold’…in the Golden Rule.
You see, it really ‘is’ a heart matter. Don’t leave this in the hands of the Democrats and Republicans, because they’ll screw it up every time. No, short-circuit the process and have it start at home. Actually respect your neighbor in the manner you respect yourself…and hope that it spreads.
Can it work? Well, it works for those who put some elbow grease behind their prayers. For hate and suspicion is as old as mankind – as old as original sin. There’s a reason why wars were so common in the Old Testament. This is Genesis stuff – Adam and Eve – nature. Dogs even hate other dogs. Blue Jays hate other birds. So what chance to people have?
Pray for sports if you like, but sports is little more than the test ground for what’s natural, and what’s learned. I’ve seen fist fights break out in handshake lines after basketball games, so sports is hardly the salve to soothe the savage by itself.
Remember, too. The NASCAR culture didn’t put that noose in Bubba Wallace’s garage. SOME BODY put it there.
And thanks to the difference in hearts…that person could have been you or me.