Speaking of sports
By Lisa Fabrizio
The late Howard Cosell is reported to once have opined that "Sports is the toy department of life;" meaning that watching sports was a way to slip into a simpler world, untouched by the evils of the real one. Now this was pretty rich stuff coming from a man who did all he could to ensure that the reverse was true. He, like many of his colleagues in 'real' journalism, decided during the 1960s that simply reporting events wasn't half so enjoyable or rewarding as creating them. Later on in his career he decided that "Sports is human life in microcosm," a much more accurate description.
But in some ways, it really was the toy department, in that those who were fortunate enough to earn a living there were blessed; no nine-to-five job for them, no monetary worries; only a few hours of the day spent playing the games of childhood. And for those whose talents were insufficient for year-round financial stability, a few months spent at actual labor in the off season was not a bad price to pay for fame and admiration.
But, as in the rest of America, times changed. And, as was the case with nearly everything else they touched, the revolutionary waves of the 1960s, which claimed to promote freedom for nearly everyone, brought only servitude. In other words we were freed from any objective moral compass only to become slaves of egotism, relativism and subjectivism. These moral maladies--brought to us courtesy of '60s liberals whose idea of perfect citizenship is a nation of perpetual adolescents forever glorying in sex, drugs and rock and roll--have now pervaded nearly all facets of our society.
And so now even the sports world offers no shortage of examples. Much ado was recently raised when a teenager ran afoul of security at Citizens Bank Park, by scurrying across the outfield and eventually being taken down by Taser. Now, taken in itself, the occasion of a wacky teenager wanting to 'express' himself by treading the turf trodden by his heroes wouldn't be a big deal. But exacerbating the situation was the fact that the youth actually phoned his daddy to solicit some fatherly guidance in regards to breaking the law.
Now I don't know about all of you, but were I stupid enough to do the same, I can't envision my dad giving me anything but an iron-clad order to desist followed by a stern edict to get the rocks out of my head. But, true to the modern parenting handbook, Pops responded with this chummy piece of advice: "I don't think you should." And fearing, as should all of today's fathers who call their sons 'buddy', that their offspring will totally ignore them, he then called a friend who was at the game, asking him to try and stop his son's mad dash. This of course failed miserably, but justice was eventually served when the spoiled child was not spared the rod, electric though it might have been.
The desire of the boy to gain his 15 minutes of fame, though deplorable, is easy enough to understand. What do you expect from the 'look-at-me' generation who are raised to think that their mere existence is worthy of media coverage; who must text, Tweet and Facebook in advance of their next visit to the bathroom? No, the truly disturbing behavior was on the part of the father. Once again we see that even parenthood has been engulfed in a fog of non-judgmental immaturity, as even in this era of terrorist threats, the lad's dad concluded the incident by saying that he wasn't angry with his son because it was simply a case of "teenagers having fun."
Similarly indicative of where we are now, was the report that former NFL bad-boy Lawrence Taylor was accused of raping a 16 year-old girl. Now sadly, this kind of story is no longer noteworthy in the world of sports. What is surprising is the reaction of sportswriters and talk-show hosts, trying to figure out what the 'mentality' of NFL players might be that causes them to rape and/or mistreat women.
Some would blame the situation on the violent nature of the sport, while others who are more brave make the connection between the backgrounds of some of the players from poorer neighborhoods and these thuggish actions. But none of this rings entirely true, since these conditions have been a part of professional football since its inception.
Incredibly, these sports pundits, many of whom work right here in New York City, home of Madison Avenue, fail to see the forest for the trees. Were all of these folks at the buffet table during the Super Bowl ads? As I wrote at the time, "[W]e were treated to commercials that featured; old people brutalized, smarmy sexual comments placed on the lips of babies, screaming chickens, endless promos for movies featuring things demonic, countless folks being punched and slapped around and even an ad where a child cracks one of his mother's boyfriends across the face."
Yet, as I listened to one New York sports jock muse that LT should have made age inquiries before he 'ordered up a prostitute', I was shocked at just how far the objectification of women had gotten in this country; though why, I don't know, since all of the major sports organizations are complicit in this assault on our culture. They can order as many pink ribbons as they like on their players' uniforms and produce any number of touchy-feely United Way spots, but until they decide to police the way their product is marketed, they will never solve their problem, or ours.
One thing is for certain, the toy department is closed.
Lisa Fabrizio is a columnist who hails from Connecticut. You may write her at firstname.lastname@example.org.