A consultation occurred between two members of a team that outlined the consequences of an action and resulted in a decision that presented a more favorable operating environment for the entire group, albeit at the personal expense of one of the unit's elite members, who chose to sacrifice a historical opportunity for personal expression for the greater good of his team. And this is somehow a bad development? Should the sports media have lashed out at Marshall for his desire to be "part of the moment"? Well, obviously no. The sports media should have lauded the motivation behind Marshall's planned celebration and his subsequent decision to forgo it. But was this article's intent to critique the sports media? The same sports media that host such worldly and critical debates like, "Is Kimbo Slice for real?" or "Does Ball State deserve a place in the BCS title game if they remain undefeated?" If this is indeed this article's intent, then I argue that it misses the point.
I understand that unexpected and often tragic events--the Munich hostage crisis of the 1972 Olympics, the death of Len Bias or the earthquake at the 1989 World Series--often throw the sports media into uncharted territory. That is, they are forced to write articles on serious matters, which invariably all end with some form of the following declaration: It is times like these that make you remember that (insert sport here) is just a game. As historic as the election is, it is not one of these events that award sports writers to write about topics other than sports. In fact, any detailed analysis of the election by the sports media, or even analysis of the reaction of players, betrays the significance of the moment, of President-elect Barack Obama. Very simply, the sports media have no business commenting on such matters. It is not their job and they are not equipped to effectively provide us with thoughtful and insightful information on the matter (as they have proved with their coverage of Marshall's celebration).
So are you calling out the sports media here, or are you simply lamenting that Brandon Marshall missed a historical opportunity to express what millions likely feel as a result of Barack Obama's victory? As I've said, I believe that the first point is moot. As for the latter point, I believe that the way the situation unfolded with Brandon Marshall, while certainly not as flashy or photogenic, is far more significant and inspirational than his black-and-white glove celebration could ever have been. The Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics was wholly original in design, and powerful, in part, because of its singularity. With Marshall's planned celebration after scoring a touchdown in a regular season NFL game, it would be difficult for one to separate this significant celebration from past touchdown celebrations, some of which were entertaining but none of which could be mistaken for anything other than a player's attempt to have some fun. Think of Brandon Marshall's black-and-white glove celebration in a montage of other end zone performances like Chad Ocho Cinco's mock proposal to a Bengals cheerleader or Joe Horn's "hidden cell phone" celebration.
Of course, the Black Power statement at the Olympics also resonated because of the turmoil that spawned its creation and ultimate significance. Centuries of injustice were finally met with a strong and collective resistance, symbolized by a clenched black fist. The movement was inspirational but also tumultuous, capable of invoking wild swings of emotion in those who joined it. Well, on November 5, 2008, the world woke up with a much steadier rudder. The world woke up to a leader who personifies calmness in the face of adversity, especially when it comes to the serious business of making decisions that impact the lives of other people. To me, the exchange between Stokely and Marshall embodied the spirit of president-elect Barack Obama. I saw it and imagined Stokely saying, "We're with you, Brandon, the whole world is, but there's no time to celebrate right now. We still have a job to do." Then I imagined Marshall nodding and responding, "Right, let's get it done, brother."
Barack Obama is the first African-American president of the United States. To dismiss the significance of this achievement would be not only senseless but also impossible. The lasting significance of this American milestone, however, should not be the dark-colored skin of the person residing in the White House. No. Let the grandparents of this country who fought for or dreamed of a black president hold tight to the trophy of America's fifty-sixth presidential election. Let the rest of us continue practicing the self-sacrifice and common understanding inspired by President-elect Obama's ideals and rational thinking, because some things are even more important than a celebration, especially given the enormity of the tasks before us.
New York, NY
Nov 12 2008 - 3:47pm