The title is where I’m headed today.
For you see, I know quite-near-next-to-nothing about the NFL. And yet, Sunday’s game has left me very troubled in a lot of ways. This is quite an understatement.
For me, there are issues involving “the incident” with Richard Sherman that come from a definite rookie angle; but are the topic of much conversation in the Helm’s Household, as well as out of it; for I have texted voraciously with Son #1 and others.
In the spirit of the Leadership Education principle “You, Not Them,” I have a confession to make. It involves a basketball game in 1993 that my brother was coaching. I was visiting Seattle with my two oldest (and only at the time) sons. My brother invited us to ride the bus to the game, thinking that the boys would love it. They did. (At least on the way there.)
Perhaps the game became rather intense, and perhaps I felt that one of the refs was blind (my brother Tim later confirmed he was, but that is still to this day beside the point) and perhaps I stood to my feet and screamed this fact, until the principal of the school left his post on the other side of the gym; taking his time to get to where I was seated, asking me sincerely if I needed to step outside. He was absolutely right in what he did, and I was mortified. So was my brother. I remember one of the kids on the bench choosing to seize that momentary awkward silence in which the entire game stopped, and everyone’s eyes were on me by stating, “Geez, lady, you have serious problems. This is only a game!” That bus ride home was awkward at best and I was very alone in my seat near the back.
It is still not one of my finer life moments by any means. And there have been others not related specifically to sports.
I do have a small measure of comfort in the fact that my brother, Tim, (who clearly can no longer defend himself, but could also not deny one thing here in print) has been kicked out of many a game; using up his quota of technical fouls. His reputation for quietly and professionally goading refs and other coaches lives on in infamy. Son #3 and I were laughing last evening over the fact that during one particular visit with my brother,while at a high school game, he had mentally uttered to himself, “What the h*ll is your problem?!”
Be that as it may, I believe we are faced with some big ones.
For after Richard Sherman’s “unprofessional outburst” (and it was, there is absolutely no question,) a fire storm within social media venues everywhere ignited.
Sadly, the blaze continues and has burned both bridges and opportunities in its pathway down the slippery slope of things not even pertaining to football.
Leadership Education also encourages knowledge that is both broad as well as deep. I have zero depth in the world of the brown pigskin ball, other than what my brother Tim, my father, and my BFF Cathy have graciously passed along. In an effort to understand a wee bit about the game, I read this book,
and had many a discussion with Tim about its contents. It was a wonderful, insightful and eye-opening read and I highly recommend it. Since then, more than once, I have heard a zealous but well-meaning parent declare, “I would never want my child to go into politics! Oh no! A career in sports is where we’ve got them headed!”
I laugh, for I can’t decide which is more fraught with political strife: the career or a professional game!
Somehow, in today’s America, the fan/observer/enthusiast has come to be expert, gospel-truth-providing political pundit; taking the convenient form more often than not, of an anonymous-but-influential package.
Know this: I am not defending poor sportsmanship or unacceptable behavior. But there is plenty of it coming from the 12th man, and they aren’t just Seahawk’s fans.
The 12th man in my book, is the crowd that weighed in and then, from the comfort of their own easy chair, complete with an array of snacks only an arm’s length away; began fueling an age-old fire, that in many arenas is still blazing.
It concerns me that inappropriate behavior somehow managing to be redefined as expert opinion or even “fact” can be manipulated and reworked into equally absolute truth with influence, by those all too quick to seek immunity, safety and absolution behind a keyboard and a screen.
I know from personal experience, being a passionate person who shares opinions and ideologies too freely at times, that there are simply those moments, when after the fact; one wishes they had done things differently. I can’t speak for anyone other than myself, but I find it horrifying that a gross error of judgment escalates to blanket statements encompassing things one really knows very little about, and never will. And just that quickly, gaining even more followers, also armed with blanket-statements-and-stereotypes-turned-truth, it focuses relentlessly on an individual’s ethnicity and stereotypical prejudice which still, after all these years, slides too easily off both tongue and fingertips…despite yesterday’s holiday being all about honoring the headway this man made for the cause.
Undoubtedly, professional athletes have significant influence over youth in America. Who am I kidding? They have influence over all of America as a culture!
But do they honestly possess influence at its greatest? It is my opinion that the answer is no, for real genuine relationship trumps iconic moments of glory every time.
Face-to-face, consistent, accountability is what is life changing in the end. And what kids (mine in particular) see me living, texting, writing, and what their ears hear me saying about and to others, is the greatest influence to abolishing hyped up, misdirected fear there is. Dr. King was all about this particular angle and made staggering headway using it towards fear’s demise.
Fear serves no one well. Responding to inappropriate actions with further inappropriate action, gives way to an even greater foothold where it is concerned. It limits and produces myopic vision that sees snippets and parts rather than the whole.
Fear feeds on opinion rather than fact. It takes root quickly and tenaciously where stereotypes of others based on culture and color are used to qualify those opinions whether they are relevant to occurring actions or not.
The oldest of my children asked me after the principal walked away that day, “Mom, are you in trouble?”
I meekly and humbly replied, “Yes.” It went far deeper than that one word answer.
One of Webster’s definitions of bravery is “showy display, magnificence.” Richard Sherman’s prowess and play are certainly in that category, are they not?
Wisdom, on the other hand, which is defined as: “a wise decision, good sense showing in a way of thinking, judgment or action”, seems to be what is lacking. Not just on the part of the athlete, but a lot of 12th man individuals who continue to weigh in.
Perhaps pursuing impact through relationships with the power of our personal influence in mind would serve to honor the legacy of Dr. King’s dream. A dream, referenced often, and revered much, that involved abolishing fear so that understanding could reign.
Let’s be leaders who stick to the real issues, readily admitting fault when there is a need.
Courage: it “involves qualities of the spirit and personal conduct.”
In the future, even when I “lose it”, have need to apologize and own my errors, may it always be void of color.