“This is JUST a football game, no matter who wins or loses”
Howard Cossell on Monday Night Football on December 8, 1980 before announcing the murder of John Lennon
Many of us take the highs and lows of professional sports as if they were a reflection of our own lives. Some fans’ thoughts, mannerisms, psyches, moods, and attitudes are affected by the performances of their favorite teams.
Often times we get so inundated and invested in our favorite teams that it clouds our thought processes and the belief enters our minds that nothing else matters except the end result and which side of the win/loss column our team falls on. But that’s a dangerous way to live. We are all emotionally invested in our favorite team, that’s what makes us fans (which is short for fanatic). But when the line gets crossed from the entertainment (which is ALL that football is) aspect to real life, that’s where we need to take a step back and have proper perspective.
In case you’ve been living under a rock the last week then you’ll know what situation I’m referring to. San Francisco 49ers receiver and kick returner, Kyle Williams received numerous death threats on twitter after committing two fumbles in the 49ers NFC Championship loss to the New York Giants last Sunday night.
Now, lets be honest, we’ve all uttered the words “I could kill you right now!” as we yell at the TV after a player from our team made a boneheaded play to lose the game (As a Raiders fan, moments like these for me have been countless). But no sane person in their rational mind would even think about actually doing it, much less tweeting about it. I’m not saying that Kyle Williams wasn’t a major reason why the 49ers lost that game, because he was, and he’ll be the first one to tell you that. But we have to remember that as fanatical as we can be and as much as we ride the ups and downs of a game and/or season, it’s ONLY a game.
With the advent of twitter and facebook and all of the social media outlets where players can now communicate directly with fans, and vice versa, the figurative wall that once separated performers from the rest of the world no longer exists. For all of the positives that twitter has provided (such as up to the second news updates, impromptu meet and greets with players, prize giveaways etc.), there have been many negative aspects as well such as the murder of Southern California rapper, Rosemo700, as a result of a reported “twitter beef”.
The concept behind twitter was an excellent model. It serves as a medium that could be just as useful for a multimillion dollar corporation as it is for a teenager living in an impoverished environment. But as with most innovations in the world, someone will always use a vehicle that was created on positive pretenses, for a negative purpose. Unfortunately, Pandora’s Box has already been opened and short of twitter changing its membership qualifications, requiring subscribers to submit some sort of legal verification of who they REALLY are, people like the ones who threatened Williams and his family will continue to be able to hide behind the proverbial cloak of invisibility that twitter provides.
But let’s get back to the Williams issue specifically.
I’m not really big into hypotheticals, and maybe this isn’t the greatest example, but let’s put this into the perspective that your average Joe can sympathize with. Let’s take the issue off of the football field and place it into a real world scenario.
Let’s say you’re a teacher working for a publicly funded school. The school is involved in a state-wide standardized testing program where the top five school’s that perform in the 70th percentile receive significant state funding. Let’s say that every class in your school performs at or around the 70th percentile, but your class absolutely bombs the test, scores in the 30th percentile and the school barely misses getting the state funds. I think it would be pretty safe to say that the superintendent, the principal, the other teachers and parents would all be extremely pissed and will likely call for your job.
As disappointed, disgruntled and outright pissed as all of these parties would be, it’s more than likely that none of them would make a threat on your life. The best perspective to have in situations like this is simple, just ask yourself: How would I feel if someone said/did this to me?
Well, I can’t imagine if someone placed a threat on your life (whether serious or not) you’d be too thrilled about it. I hope I didn’t lose anyone with talks of standardized tests and percentiles…felt like I was in high school again for a second there. Now whether or not teachers can be held totally accountable for the performance of their students is a different blog altogether, but I think you all know what I’m getting at.
Now I know that the audience and the following of a football player is much higher than that of a local school teacher, but the concept is the same:
A group of people relying on someone’s performance to bring them success, happiness or both.
Unless you’re a team employee, league employee, or a sponsor, how your favorite team performs has no bearing on your everyday life (unless you gamble and lose a significant amount of money, which is the fault of the person in the mirror and not anyone on the field or court). And even if you so happen to belong to one of the aforementioned delegations, it still doesn’t give you the right to threaten the life of a person or their family.
We often forget when we watch these giant men pull of herculean feats of athleticism on a weekly or nightly basis, that they are human just like we are. I’m not trying to be sappy here or send out the old message of “athletes are people too!”, but I do want us to realize that as big of sports fans as we all are, we can’t allow ourselves to lose perspective on life as a whole.
Make no mistake about it, no one is more angry at Williams than Williams himself. As much as you think your Monday was ruined by his performance, something tells me his was much worse.
After the game was over it was Williams who had to face all of his teammates after the final gun, it was Williams who had to stand in his locker and face the media and the world on national television, and it was Williams who no doubt replayed those two agonizing moments over and over again in his head, constantly thinking about what he could have or should have done differently.
While all you did on Sunday was get pissed off that your team lost, got heckled by your friends, and then you got ready for another average day at the office.
So again for all of the hecklers out there:
How did Wiliiams’ fumble(s) directly affect your life?
Yea, that’s what I thought.