Wednesday, September 17, 2014

TWIS: Processing Hate... and Excuses

Sorry about the lack of posts lately. With work back in full swing (I work full-time with special needs kids in an elementary school), along with my personal training gig and writing full-time (3rd edit of The Last Angel), it's been a bit chaotic. I kept telling myself I didn't have time to post a coherent blog until I realized I was spending more time dropping five hundred word comments on Facebook threads. Not particularly productive. So instead of commenting there, I figured I'd post them here and give more people a chance to throw eggs at me. (Or nod sagely in agreement)

This Week in Sports (T.W.I.S.)

News is always bad news, but this week has been particularly tough. First, the Ray Rice video broke the NFL and finally shattered that thin glass separating our conscience from the horrific and violent stories consistently brushed over by the league. 87 arrests by 80 players in fourteen years, and yet suddenly the climate has changed. Hell, even after the first video of Rice pulling his unconscious girlfriend, Janay Palmer, out of the elevator, the outrage was on its death knell until the second video of him punching her in the face and knocking her unconscious was released. We had to see it to process it.

Maybe we didn't believe that someone, someone we watched play our favourite game on Sundays, could actually commit such a hateful act. Maybe we'd learned to disconnect our conscience from reality when we read the other stories. Maybe we came up with other reasons (she started it) for him to be pulling her unconscious form from the elevator. Either way, it was the tipping point. We saw it. We were forced to deal with it. And now, everything is different. Will it last? Who knows. I hope so.

But the gut punch has been listening to people like Panthers coach Ron Rivera. Listening to him talk about the "changing climate" regarding his own player, Greg Hardy, who has already been convicted of beating up his girlfriend and threatening to kill her, as if it were somehow the media's fault, or the fault of the "changing climate" to inexcusably play Hardy in Week Two.

These coaches, and in extension, the talk show hosts and fans who keep insisting that these players should be forgiven and given their jobs back and what right does the NFL have to prevent their employment, echo like the sound of a cat being tortured in the back alley. Have they so completely lost their sense of right, of kindness, of freaking life, that they can no longer find their way out of the maze of psychological dependency on a team or a sport as some kind of last frontier where everything goes. And oh yeah, fuck women and fuck morals, it's football! No pussies here! It's hatred run wild, and processing it has been increasingly difficult.

Adrian Peterson, who stuffed leaves into the mouth of his naked son and beat him with a switch until the boy had lacerations on his legs, his buttocks, his scrotum and yes, his hands, where he held them up, trying to prevent a 210lb NFL athlete from hitting him, has somehow become a discussion on spanking. This sparked one of the most idiotic comments from Charles Barkley in his terrific broadcasting career when he suggested that "every Southern black person would be in jail" if they were charged the way Peterson had been.

To be clear, spanking is favoured in uneducated areas for a reason. Studies have shown how damaging it is, how unnecessary it is, and yet, even though Peterson's son had welts on his freaking scrotum, some people are insisting this is a spanking issue.

Yeah, I got spanked. I was never abused. If people can't figure out the difference, then maybe we're all stupid.

All in all, its felt like a week of processing hate and excuses. I'm glad the sponsors are speaking up. I'm glad Hardy won't be playing this week. I'm glad Peterson won't play again this year. But that window is shattered now, and I'll be watching closely. I shouldn't have to swallow my conscience to watch sports. And if it continues to be a problem, maybe I'll stop worrying about processing hate, and just change the channel.