What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
At first glance, the title of this piece seems ludicrous, but the events of this past week in upstate New York and suburban St. Louis share one overarching theme. In both cases, there is a world full of people who not only want me to jump to conclusions based on what they want to believe, they expect me to do so based on on some flimsy mob mentality to which they’ve subscribed.
In case you were on the International Space Station this week and NASA forgot to pay the cable bill, on Saturday night at a race track in Canandaigua, New York, NASCAR driver Tony Stewart struck and killed fellow driver Kevin Ward, Jr. who had exited his car after colliding with Stewart’s car. A few days before that in Ferguson, Missouri, Michael Brown was shot and killed during a confrontation with police. While these two incidents are a thousand miles and worlds apart, they are bound by several common threads.
First of all is the aforementioned mob mentality. I’m surrounded by people who looked a the video of the Stewart incident and are convinced this was a act of stone-cold murder. While I’m willing to admit that video looks bad, I’m also not willing to forgo due process because of it. As far as the Brown situation is concerned, this is just another in a long line of incidents where there is a predisposed, politically-correct determination of the sequence of events based solely on the race of the person who ended up dead.
Instead of looking at these situations by poo-pooing what I don’t know, let’s look at what I do know. It seems to me that getting run over is a fair risk to expect from walking around on a race track. There’s really no denying that is what happened, regardless of whatever else comes to light. In other words, Ward could not have been run over had he stayed in his car.
Ironically, by all witness accounts, the incident between Brown and the police began when Brown and another unidentified male approached the officer’s car and began a physical confrontation with him when he attempted to exit his squad car. The accounts of what happened after that point vary greatly, but the end was not vague at all.
While I’m spending my morning spewing coffee across the room at how outlandish the coverage of both these stories is becoming; at least the outraged NASCAR fans are equating the need for justice with the right to smash the windows at a Wal-Mart and steal a 50-inch flat screen. But that isn’t the only way terms are getting confused.
In a rare moment when ESPN wasn’t bleating the Stewart story this morning, they did one of those “puff” pieces about a BASE jumper who blew out his spine jumping off a bridge. While they are telling the story of his “comeback,” the kept using the word “tragedy” to describe his injury. What happened to this guy was not a “tragedy;” a six-year old getting mowed down in a crosswalk is a “tragedy.” Ending up in a wheelchair because you played “patty-cake” with a bridge piling is not a “tragedy,” it’s an occupational hazard.
Know what else are occupational hazards? Sucking a fender at fifty miles an hour because you are an impulsive hothead, and eating a bullet because you picked a fight with a guy wearing a gun. In other words, what is really infuriating about the coverage of both of these stories is the media has this silly need to obfuscate the fact that both of these stories have a distinct “it takes two to tango” factor. No matter how much white-wash you sling, there’s no denying if you don’t want to get run over, you shouldn’t walk around on race-tracks. A great way not to get shot by the police is not to start fist fights with them. And if you cripple yourself jumping off bridges, don’t let ESPN use you to reinforce the idea that we bear no responsibility for what happens to us anymore.