Sports fans usually have favorite teams in a particular sport and that’s it. Some fans actually have a favorite team and also a second favorite team in particular sports, which is sometimes frowned upon. As an example, in the NBA, I’m a fan of the Brooklyn Nets, but my second team is the NY Knicks. That rubs some people the wrong way, but I can give two pieces of poop what people think about what teams I root for.
In Football, it gets way more tricky, because in the NFL, my favorite team is the Dallas Cowboys, also known as America’s team, also known as the team people love to hate. BUT, my second team is the New York Giants, which in a very tough NFC East, where blood and guts are shed every Sunday, it’s nearly heresy to have a second favorite team that’s in the same division as your favorite team. It sometimes makes for strange rooting habits, but I’m OK with it. Unfortunately, neither of my teams made it to the Superbowl this year.
The experience of having a dog in the fight, when it comes to the Superbowl, is unique and thrilling. All of your fandom comes full circle, while all the trash talking and good natured ribbing of friends on Facebook gets validated. I’ve had that experience recently with the NY Giants in 2007 and 2011. But as my second favorite team, with an allegiance born primarily from geographic proximity (born and raised in NJ, adult life in NY), those NY Giants Superbowl victories didn’t make me revel with a rabid level of celebration that’s reserved for you favorite team. In other words, when the Giants won, I celebrated, when the Cowboys win it again, I’m gonna Turn-Up!
So for Superbowl XLIX, I had no favorite team. I am a fan of football in general and a fan of various players on each team, so normally, if you’re not a fan of either team in the big game, or if you haven’t wagered on the outcome, you mostly enjoy and root for a fun game. Normally.
But this being America, it was this particular, race fueled narrative that developed over the two weeks leading up to the Superbowl, and honestly, it was a furthering of the position that America took on the Seattle Seahawks since they won Superbowl 48 (sorry, I’m suffering from Roman Numeral Fatigue), which is that the team is a bunch of thugs. Thugs. Thuggish. Acting like thugs. Classless thugs. Those have been the labels attached to the team and we all know that “thug” is the internet generation’s iteration of the N word. Some buffoon in front of a keyboard can call a player a thug while assuaging their inner self, that they’re not a bigot, since being a bigot is generally considered bad.
The detritus left over from America’s discriminatory past, results in a pussyfooting with vocabulary, dancing around and repurposing words as needed, so to avoid the “racist” label. This Superbowl wasn’t quite Duke vs UNLV in the 1990 NCAA basketball championship game, which was outright calling a bunch of college kids, hoodlums, or anything close to the the University of Miami vs Notre Dame, 1988 NCAA Championship Football game, which was disparagingly billed as “Convicts vs Catholics”, with T-shirts bearing that slogan sold at the stadium. But that’s because the world has become far more politically correct.
America seemed to call every player on the Seahawks a thug, save for Russell Wilson, to whom they’ve offered their daughters for marriage. Which is to say that every other player on the Hawks is the type you follow around department stores, stop in expensive automobiles, clutch your pocketbook when on an elevator, call the cops while they’re in Walmart purchasing a toy gun and imprison falsely for rape. Calling a black man a thug is creating justification to treat them in a discriminatory, racist and deadly manner and I’m against anybody trying to create that environment.
I found myself rooting for Seattle, purely from the standpoint of wanting the team to show up the haters who wanted them to lose, and who also actively propagated the “thug” conversation. And it was all set to happen. Seattle had the ball on the one yard line, while also being the employer of a man who is nick-named Beast Mode. If Marshawn Lynch’s nickname was Fleet-Feet or Smooth or something that did not convey complete animal determination and a preternatural ability to gain a single yard for a touchdown, then coach Pete Carroll could have been forgiven for not giving Mr. Lynch the ball.
But Mr. Lynch DOES have the word “Beast” in his nick-name and as such, Mr. Carroll is a complete heel on Monday morning. Hell, he was a heel as soon as Russell Wilson threw the interception, which was the result of an insanely bad decision by coach. Like the Prego spaghetti sauce commercial, when the lady questions her bad decisions in the past, I bet Coach Carroll has a bunch of ’em, like:
Patronizing prostitutes without condoms.
Still holding on to his Netscape stock
Bringing friends to restaurants that have a D rating in the window
So Seattle didn’t win and New England got lucky that Bad Decision Pete lost his mind in the waning seconds of the Superbowl. But honestly, the main reason I was rooting for the Seahawks, is because of America’s penchant for labeling black athletes thugs, when they don’t measure up to some distorted notion of how athletes are supposed to comport themselves. America, in general, places higher than healthy expectations on their sports stars. Creating role models can be a tricky proposition, in general, because of our inherent fallibility when it comes to personal behavior.
Our desire to build up and then tear down, and then to sometimes build back up again, public figures, as role models, is a rather demented quality about America; but it is what it is. There are other names far more apropos for some of the athletes that America loves to call thugs. In fact, it’s a particular description that many non racist people call players like Richard Sherman. It’s an off-color word, we all have one on our body, and it’s the author and producer of passed gas.
See how being called an a-hole informs opinion about the players public actions, as opposed to being called a thug, which questions your moral character, humanity, criminalizes behavior and brands a player a deviant. That’s not cool and as a black man, I found myself rooting for Seattle, even though they’re a team built like a Sergio Leone spaghetti western-The Good (Russell) The Bad (Richard) and The Beastly (Marshawn) and talk a bit too much trash.
America needs to stop the with the bigoted and racist, character and humanity assassination of black athletes. We all get it bruh, you’re not as strong, fast, athletic, famous or rich as those guys and they seem to not care about acting kinda douchey even though they’re getting a kings ransom to play a game. And a game you might play for free. But that doesn’t make them a thug or even a role model. That makes them determined and lucky and sometimes it makes then an a-hole, but it definitely doesn’t make them a thug.
I won’t even begin to talk about the lackluster halftime show by Katy Perry and how it was saved by Missy Elliot!