I’m no sports fan. I find most sporting events boring and a bit pointless, but I understand their appeal to folks. For me, the most interesting sports tend to be motor racing — and not NASCAR; I prefer my racers to have to occasionally turn to the right. For me motorcycle racing, World Rally Cup, the aeronautics of the Red Bull Cupp, even powerboat racing if fun because of the speed and the quickness with which death reaches out and tries to take someone. (I like the crashes.)
So I was surprised when a friend of mine posted a comment on Facebook on a piece he’d read on ESPN.com that I thought was intriguing:
Just read on ESPN.com, that some group is requesting that players refrain from using the word “Nigger” while on the field. They call it “the worst and most derogatory word ever spoken in our country”, which is up for some debate I would think. ESPN follows the PC doctrine of calling it the N-word, which I think is ludicrous. Use the actual word “nigger”, when dealing with it in a historical or news discussion. The “N-word” abbreviation is still conveying the same meaning. You don’t see people using “S-word” in place of SLAVE, do you? This political correctness is an embarrassment and disresepctful.
I despise the “N-word.” Not the actual word itself, but the prevarication that we aren’t using the context simply by replacing it was a euphemism — a point my friend makes quite well with his comment about the “S-word” (slave.) This got me thinking about the general environment in which this euphemistic linguistic sissiness could thrive.
Looking back on the school experience in the United States (and it applies equally well, if not better, to demographics in Britain), there were the jocks — those playing football (American or otherwise), rugby, etc. The tough guys. The anointed. The ones whose very existence made those kids that were physically inferior — or at least less athletic — feel somehow less. Often, there was no active attempt by the sports hero to make that kid in the glee club or theater feel small, or weak, or inferior; much of the time that was projection — the child would look on these prodigals and wonder “why not me?” It was simply not fair! This unhappy child would point to their grades, or creativity, or some other element of their personality to compare favorably to the captain of the team. Sports is stupid. Why do the sports teams of universities get so much money that should go to academics? (Answer: most sports programs bring in more money for the university in licensed swag than they take out of the budget.) Why do we worship these thugs?
Fast forward to today. We are a society run by the people that used to get weggies and titty twisters. The tech geeks. The nerds making superhero movies. The drama queens, and the other sorts of queens. The folks that looked on the sports field Adonis with contempt that was simply a subset of their hatred for “how things are”, and that hatred was their misplaced self-hatred. Except now they have power. They get to be the bullies.
And nothing is more emblematic of the unfair nature of the world to the poor, pitiful bullied child than the cultural worship of the athletic. It always starts small. Reasonable. There are so many injuries in sports! We need to protect people from their own decisions, or at least children. Make the sport less violent. Make it softer, safer, something anyone could play (like they would want to!) And when people say “That’s reasonable. Maybe we should look at touch football in high school to avoid injury.” they’ve got their in.
Next will be to get this awful, racist bloodsport (football, in this instance) banned. They’ll eventually notice the majority of the NFL has a particular demographic to the players: they are black. And with the soft racism of low expectation, they’ll move to “help.”
“I mean, all those
niggers getting rich playing football I mean, all those disadvantaged African-American duped into this gladiatorial monstrosity, are just being used for the entertainment of all those bullies that picked on us for being in glee club as kids. It’s just racism writ large. We can’t have that in a modern, civilized society!”
The problem with this thinking is simple. People make choices. We hope they are informed, well-considered ones, but ultimately it is their life and their choice to make on if they play professional sports and risk traumatic brain injuries and life-long damage. To the players, perhaps the chance to have their name sung out, like Achilles, is more important than an actuarially safe life. By depriving them of opportunity to find their happiness because you might think it is your duty to protect them, you do the opposite. You harm. You steal agency from them. (And in the case of the demographic that plays sports, the chance at economic and social improvement.)
These purveyors of pussidom will inevitably, and probably soon, turn to their favorite cheap shot to make their case. They will claim the game is racist. Football (and why stop there, most of professional sports) uses black men. They will kill off the opportunity for those people who most need sports as a ladder to success: the poor. (This is why, up until after WWII, most boxers were Irish or Italian in the United States…it was all you had to get ahead if you were physically gifted.)
“But, Scott, the word nigger is a horrible word that conjures up all sorts of cultural baggage, and is designed to dehumanize the person!”
Yes…and who is using it? It’s the players, as the network pointed out. This isn’t a case of society as a whole judging and dehumanizing these players; they are doing it to themselves. It’s rife in movies, rap and hip hop music, and other product made by and shopped to the black community. It is a constant reminder of their inferior status, despite the merchants of this mentality financially and socially profiting from its continuance. In this way, an entire American subculture has been broken over 50+ years of political correctness, welfare handouts, and media programming that is just “speaking the truth” or “keeping it real.” Instead of blacks being encouraged to raise themselves up to speak beautifully and powerfully, working to become professionals and respected members of the community, as many were striving for even during the worst days of racial segregation, they have — since the Progressive onslaught in the ’60s — been trained to think of themselves as victims: weak, unloved…the kid in the glee club. The kid that needs protection from the politicans that take everything and give them scraps. They break themselves now, pretending the word is some kind of coopted sign of respect for themselves, but watch how it is used: to put a person in their place. To knock them down a peg. The people that want them broken to preserve their political and social power won.
And while the pundits decry the use of “the worst and most derogatory word ever spoken in our country”, they enjoy the privileges of its use. They still have “the N-word”, and all the cultural and linguistic baggage, that they can throw around to silence the very group of people they claim to be protecting from racial attack.