How do you find your happy place? Is it an actual space? Or a frame of mind?
Do you even have one?
As a kid, one of my favorite weekend rituals was to watch Rich Eisen and Stuart Scott take the set for the eleven p.m. SportsCenter. Rich and Stu were best friends, the way they would riff off each other, their chemistry gushing through the tv screen like orange Fanta filling up a Red Sox souvenir mug.
The joy and exuberance these two exuded was emblematic of the fact that sports was one of the ultimate escapist experiences you were likely to find.
My how times have changed.
In Trump’s America, all codes of conduct, and in fact, basic human rights, are selective. What I mean by that is the notion that, since last November, free speech is conditional upon the notion of being pro-Trump, everything else is an indictment. What started out as a Colin Kaepernick whisper, a silent, peaceful protest of the way he feels African Americans are treated in America, has erupted into a full-throated orchestra of controversy and appeal.
It was only a matter of time before this escalated to the point of no return. President Trump can’t handle opposition of any kind, and what he felt was yet another slight against his ego, turned into an ugly battle with America’s most popular league.
A few weeks ago, all thirty-two NFL teams stood as one in protest of Trump’s scathing remarks when it comes to athletes who choose to sit or kneel during the National Anthem. Hand in hand, arm in arm, warriors of the battle field joining forces for a common cause.
There is no separation of the church and state that is politics in sports. When I pitched this article, my goal was to state how it’s kind of a shame, the notion that the sports world is so indelibly etched into the real world, but the vitality of staying informed and aware, is so much more critical than getting a few hours of “shut down” time.
Yes, fans should enjoy themselves, and dance jubilantly went “Mony Mony” by Billy Idol comes on during a time out, but recognize that protests are part of the American fabric, and not done arbitrarily.
If you stop and think about it, I mean really pontificate, as a society, we have made a conscious, collective decision to eliminate escapism from the way we consume the world around us. Most of our favorite shows on television, are grounded in a visceral or realistic theme that is intended to make us assess the status quo that elicits improvement. We don’t seek affirmation so much as we do a better way to exist.
This theme relates to the way athletes operate. The upcoming NBA season will witness the debut of new “Big 3’s” in Cleveland, Boston, and Houston, assembled in response to finding a better way to topple the mighty Golden State Warriors.
We can find ways to be happy and informed simultaneously, and it starts with treating the people around us with respect, and valuing difference of opinions pertaining to pertinent issues.
Escapism in sports is dead. But, is that a bad thing?