There was an interesting moment during Rick Pitino’s obligatory handshake-walk at the end of Monday’s exciting NCAA championship game. As the pyrotechnics began with a bang, Pitino did what I also did 12 hours away. It was the instinctive “duck and cover” move that probably sent us up a tree a million years ago and kept our species alive long before we developed 30-round magazines for our rifles.
Of course, the next day on talk radio, a significant percentage of calls were comparing Pitino’s Barney Fife to John Beilein’s Dirty Harry-stroll-through-the-chaos.
Bill Cosby, in one of my fifteen LPs in the basement, pointed out that the first thing you do, after being scared by your friends and yelling at them, is to make sure that someone else looks just as foolish as you–as soon as possible. No one wants to be the only one not like the others–unless all the others are hiding and you’re strolling past the crashed car to ask a punk if he feels lucky.
It’s the age-old boy’s terror of being called a “sissy” on the playground. You’re not tough enough. You’re weak. You’re a crybaby.
Even the title of the Wall Street Journal article (link) puts the “sissy” factor into the reader’s line-of-sight. Retired NFL players are accusing the NFL of “assembling a “sham committee” in the 1990s to address the head-injury problem and knowingly hiding information from its players on the risks of brain damage from playing football—allegations that the NFL flatly denies.”
Sports fans like me, folks that might also rewind their DVRs to look once again at Kevin Ware’s injury and laugh about Joe Theisman’s empathetic tweet the next day, tsk-tsk our sympathies.
We feel real bad for the injured. We all donate to the cause and thousands of Detroit Red Wings fans spent a year betweem two Stanley Cups in 1997-1998 praising the bravery of Vladimir Konstantinov who was in a near tragic car accident just days after the euphoric win.
But unfortunately, we are just as comfortable to enjoy our tough heros and let the injured slip gently to the rear of our memories–filed neatly away under, “Boy, that was rough” or even worse, “Well, they knew what they were getting into.”
As the hearing progresses and the testimony mounts of the thousands of NFL veterans who cannot pay for their medical bills to cover their much shortened lives, it will be interesting to how sports fans like me respond.
Will we continue to purchase videos like these and yell at the TV, “Come on, ref, he barely touched him!” and continue to laugh at Rick Pitino for ducking?