NCAA, NBA & NFL: Comfort Zone Beware!

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Not only am I an avid sports fan, I long ago acknowledged being intrigued by the role sports entertainment plays in our society.  While casually enjoying a game, it is rather easy to find oneself slipping in and out of one’s comfort zone.  As a country, if we ever decide to take steps toward honest dialogue as a means of healing, we must accept there aren’t too many topics that make us adjust our collars more so than race, gender, and sexual orientation…..just saying…..

University of Missouri’s football team drew a line in the sand that was seen around the country.  By most accounts, for far too long racial tension had been casting an ugly shadow over the campus with no apparent resolution in sight. The graduate student who began a hunger strike along with the students and faculty determined to see positive change all had the best of intentions.  Yet none had the type of visibility needed to elevate their plight and bring about a swift response. Then the football team became involved.  Nothing captures the attention of the masses like the potential loss of revenue!  For players and coaching staff alike to do a gut check and decide a boycott was the right thing to do was phenomenal!  I’m quite sure the comfort level of such a major decision varied from person to person.  They could have stayed in their respective comfort zones….continued to enjoy all of the privilege, perceived or otherwise, of a student-athlete and opt to act oblivious to their surroundings.  But they didn’t and for that, I commend them!

One of the things I value most is having a very diverse group of friends. Out of these friendships have come conversations that have ruffled feathers simply because of the honesty that was shared.  Recent events at Missouri have sparked conversations on race relations and the sometimes nonchalant approach at solving them….as a note, that didn’t work out too well for Missouri’s President nor Chancellor.  Here are just a few other hot topics that have made put on our thinking caps and talk amongst ourselves:

Why do so many white, male thirty-somethings profess to be die hard college basketball fans but became disinterested in the same game at the professional level?  Hmmm, could it be the face…literally and figuratively…of the NBA is on a different shade spectrum than that of the NCAA?

On that same note, why do we judge sideline rants differently?  If Dez Bryant is demonstrative in trying to get his teammates motivated for their next set of downs and Tom Brady is equally demonstrative to a receiver who ran an incorrect route…why is the former labeled aggressive while the latter is merely passionate?  Don’t they both just want to win?

A step further….Who amongst us can ever envision a day in which NBA players will be allotted x amount of minutes to swing at one another, while the referees calmly step away from the fray like we see in virtually every NHL game?  Not. Going. To. Happen. Ever. Hmmmm……

Why does a double standard still exist with female athletes?  If she excels at her sport but isn’t attractive the chances for endorsements are slim and none. While on the male side of things, excelling at one’s sport is a golden ticket to additional revenue…..the easy on the eyes factor does not appear to carry a lot of weight in decision in the advertising boardroom. Then there’s the dynamic of attractiveness….the Skylar Diggins look alikes of the world are second guessed on their contributions to the sport…are they really good enough to warrant such outside attention or is it solely based on their looks?  Whereas the Cristiano Ronaldo-like fellas navigate both worlds, without question, seamlessly!

We tend to hold our athletes close to our heart.  So how do we feel when one who was once celebrated for mastering not one, not two, not three....ok ok….but ten sports….decides he isn’t who he was…in fact, he is no longer a he and wishes to live as a she?!  For what it is worth, I’ve always celebrated the Caitlyns of this world…..the reality show aspect is a bit much for me—which is no different than how I generally feel about that genre.  However, it would be hypocritical to offer kudos to the Missouri Tigers for using their platform for good and tsk tsk Caitlyn for doing the same!

Start the conversation….step out of your comfort zone….it will surely spark personal growth!  I can honestly say I have never had a friendship tested over frank dialogue….a less than flattering view of my Sooners, perhaps….but never, ever frank dialogue!  

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