Ignorance is bliss. I find myself thinking that previous statement is the best way for me to begin the following thought about what has transpired in recent news regarding an owner of a certain professional sports franchise. Ignorance is bliss. The more I mull over the words in my head and aloud the more they feel slightly oxymoronic. Most people would disagree with me out right. Most would argue that there is nothing oxymoronic about that idiom; however, the more I ponder the 3 word sentence the more I feel I am correct.
We are all aware that racism is still a common practice whether people want to acknowledge that notion or not is irrelevant. With that said I am not in shock at all at the expressed sentiments of the aforementioned owner of that particular sports franchise. In all honesty I am certain many more of his contemporaries share his sentiments; however, my disappointment does not solely rest on the bigot. I am also disappointed in the employees he hired.
My analysis brings me to a peculiar position. I find an irony that deeply saddens me. More often than not I feel professional sports are paid forms of slavery. Yes they are quite entertaining. I admittedly enjoy watching some of them; however, I am certain that I am not alone in feeling that there is an undertone of slavery in the construct. For example, in one particular professional sport the athletes are subjected to what is referred to as a scouting combine. Having watched some highlights of the combine in my adult life some of the imagery is a very strong reminder of a buck on the auction block.
Those athletes are also taken through a battery of tests that examine both physical and mental attributes. In addition, they are subjected to test that are designed to test the character of the subject. Character you say? Yes, character! After the “incident” that recently transpired I ponder the accuracy of those tests. I believe wholeheartedly that people of high character exemplify those same qualities in their personal lives. Yes we all make mistakes, we all have short comings, and many of us compromise our character to make money sometimes; however, I believe, an athlete belongs to his or her race, nationality and family before they “belong” to a team.
It’s rather easy to say that the players should boycott the game and possibly the series—I would be someone who entertains the notion—but they also have their own personal finances and responsibilities to consider. For example, I am aware of a professional football player who fathered 7 children by 6 different women. In fact, he is not the only professional athlete with “fatherhood issues”. I would not tell, nor request a man with a family to abandon his source of financial support for his family unless the circumstances truly demanded such action. I am not certain where the hearts of those basketball players lie who have been forced to face the aforementioned incident that pushed me into this blog; however, I am certain that I could not face myself in the mirror without making a public statement of my deep disappointment in my employer.
In conclusion, I find myself looking for the athletes of old who were not bought by endorsements or astronomical contracts. I find myself looking for the Jim Brown’s, Muhammad Ali’s, Bill Russell’s and Karim Abdul Jabbar’s. I wonder if perhaps people like that no longer exist. I reminded of a line Jim Brown said in the Oliver Stone film “Any Given Sunday”. In the line, he expresses how athletes of the contemporary age aren’t as strong as they used to be and of course he meant physically but maybe that same construct applies to their heart of hearts. I still find myself mulling over the idiom Ignorance is Bliss. In this case, my ignorance was blissful until I had to face the music. I wonder if any of those players feel like Strange Fruit.