Today, we cheer for Jason Collins, who began a first-person column for Sports Illustrated by writing the following:
I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.
I don’t feel this urge to cheer for him because he’s a homosexual. After all, I wouldn’t cheer for another athlete because he’s a heterosexual.
Just imagine: High-five! You prefer a particular gender for sexual relations and potential domestic partnership. Yes! Fist bumps all around.
It’s so absurd, and yet, not that far off from what’s actually expressed by those who would attempt to discriminate against a certain type of people based on such things.
I cheer for Jason Collins because I cheer for courage. I cheer for Jason Collins because I cheer for social progress. I cheer for Jason Collins because somewhere there’s a young athlete confused about whom he or she is, and a black 34-year-old NBA center just made it easier for them to understand that they’re not weird, that their preferences aren’t wrong, that what they feel inside might just make them a little bit like Jason Collins. And that’s something for which cheering is worthwhile.
Following a defeat at the hands of their bitter rivals in Vancouver on April 22nd, Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith was interviewed by Karen Thomson for Team 1040 radio. She asked Keith specifically about a two-handed slash to the back of Canucks forward Daniel Sedin after he scored Vancouver’s third goal of the game. Keith condescendingly suggested that no such incident happened.
Oh, no. I don’t think there was. I think he scored a nice goal, and that’s what the ref saw. Maybe we should get you as a ref maybe, eh? The first female referee. Can’t play probably either, right? But you’re thinking the game, like you know it? Yeah, see ya.
Demeaning and unprofessional? Certainly. Sexist? I’m not entirely sure.
My knowledge of basketball consists entirely of the most rudimentary understanding of the pick and roll. I learned this in grade nine when my height and running speed deceived a high school coach into believing that I could be something more than awkward and gangling with a basketball in my hands. I was Darko Miličić before Darko Miličić.
I’m not really a basketball fan. I admire it from afar. The coordination. The leaping. The running. The endurance. My ignorance to the finer points of analytics and tactics affords me a certain wonderment as a spectator that’s absent from other sports for which I have a greater understanding.
With the start of the NBA playoffs earlier this week, I decided to alter this comfortable hands-off relationship I had developed with the sport. I wanted to end the neutral observer nonsense, and pick a team to support, hopefully, throughout the next month, and if it worked out, perhaps longer.
Typically, this is a less conscious decision for sports fans. We often cheer for teams based on regional bias, or we support a club because our parents supported that club. Or, if we’re particularly rebellious, we swear allegiance to a franchise because its the main rival of the one with which our parents have allied themselves. I’m cheering for the Chicago Blackhawks because you just don’t understand, Vancouver mom.
My forced approach to the NBA playoffs pushed me to reflect on the differences between watching a sport as a neutral observer and obsessing over a sport as a fan with a rooting interest. It’s vastly different. For many of us who support a team, the individual outcomes of tiny instances within a game that all add up to produce a result are the sole responsibility of the players on the team over which we obsess.
Spending all day – every day – immersed in sports is a bit like working at Pizza Hut and eating nothing but pizza. If one is unburdened by such matters as personal health and waistline size, pizza is a wonderful thing. Unfortunately, too much of a wonderful thing is likely to leave one no longer believing the wonderful thing to be all that wonderful.
Sports are really, really great. However, the more time you spend reading and writing about a topic, the greater the chance that its ugliness will be realized. This is why our focus often becomes embittered by all of the negative aspects present in sports. We forget why sports are so great to begin with. And so, that’s where The Week In Sports Happiness comes into play.
Every week, I’ll present the ten things that are making me happy from the world of sports. It might be a particular article, it could be a winning streak, it may even be an animated GIF. No matter what, it’s from sports, it made me feel good inside, and I hope it does the same for you.
The jokes came fast, and in a certain sense, they were furious. Breaking news is broken was the general consensus among the temporary media experts expressing disdain through social media at CNN for the network’s big scoop, which turned out to be completely false.
Early on Wendesday afternoon, multiple reports emerged from several media outlets claiming that investigators in the Boston Marathon bombings had identified a possible suspect. After this brief bout of congruity, it all went strange with conflicting reports coming from different news agencies and, in the case of CNN, from within the same news network. Depending on what article you were reading, whose Twitter feed you were following or what network you were watching, a suspect might have been arrested, identified, not identified, on the way to a court house, or in hiding.
After a press conference on Thursday held revealed photographs and video of two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings, a violent chase through Boston suburbs took place early on Friday morning, resulting in the death of one of the suspects, as well as a campus police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and severe injuries to a transit officer. The other suspect remains at large after driving over his injured partner to escape capture.
According to the New York Times, the two suspects are brothers. The surviving suspect is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19-years-old, of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The suspect who was killed was identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26-years-old. Investigators believe that both are originally from Chechnya.
There’s a lot to be written about the associations one might draw between a way of life and patriotism that at times verges on nationalism. This isn’t really the time for that, though.
In Boston, after bombings killed three people and injured more than 130 others at the Boston Marathon, it’s time for the people of the city to come together. If singing the national anthem before their Bruins play ice hockey tonight draws hurting people closer together, and allows them to feel stronger after such a devastating moment of vulnerability, then sing, sing, sing and sing some more.
A special nod of awareness goes to Rene Rancourt who could’ve made singing the U.S. National Anthem on this day a memorable performance of his own. Instead, he refused to make it about him, and shared the moment with the people of his city. Very, very well done.