About a year ago this coming spring, a month or so prior to the NFL draft, one fairly otherwise ordinary day found a crisp way into the memory bank that starts all thoughts on this subject. With the car radio turned on to a Houston sports talk show, what came through the air from the voices of callers was hardly a surprise. This was during the time of year in which most local callers wanted to register their two cents on who the Texans should draft with their first pick above all others.
Would the Texans draft someone who could be the answer to their long-term QB needs – and should it be Johnny Manziel? Well, the second part of that question has now died and gone to the land of no longer relevant, but the first part already is popping up on the air in pre-March Madness time in college basketball and during the start of spring training for the Astros, but it should really hit high gear again with talk show callers once the round ball insanity finds its wrap in early April. The difference now, of course, is that the Texans no longer have the range of candidate choices and a pick in the order of things to even have a shot at either of the two strongest QB candidates. The price of improving from terrible to mediocrity in one season is the damage it does to the Texans’ position in the draft in an even less fertile field of choices.
All that aside, the thing that comes to memory this morning is the caller I heard that ordinary day who innocently, unconsciously, but most sincerely made this evaluation of the pre-NFL draft period in 2014. “This is the toughest part of the football season,” the man said.
That’s right, the man said it for the millions, probably most of whom are heavily NFL fans, but we feel fairly certain that there are some deep-blue basketball fans – and we know first hand that there are some dyed-in-the-wool baseball fans – who feel the same 24/7 year-round connection to their own favorite sports and teams.
The only thing seasonal about sports today are the generally same times of year that the “Big Three” play their overlapping game schedules, but, as rings truer by the day for almost all we do in our culture, sports too are wired in to the same 24/7 consciousness of them by the always consuming technological advances in media coverage that fan any question of shocking possibility into a consuming flame of almost ceaseless public media discussion – until some other shocker comes along and knocks it off the road of mass attention.
The Ray Rice Punch Out of his then girl friend in the elevator last year rang a very loud bell about the much larger national problem of partner abuse in relationships. From its 24/7 media coverage, however, it rippled open other specific questions about how our relevant institutions handle these matters. In the Rice case, Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL quickly became poster children for the way their initial “once over lightly” treatment of Rice was the perfect example of how the very entities we expect to handle tough social issues like partner abuse may actually transform themselves into enablers of the problem by their unwillingness to “know” the facts or take tougher actions. As a result of the immediate media heat that fell directly upon Godell and his “taking on water fast” first position of “I never saw the actual punch; I didn’t know how bad it really was” rhetoric, Goodell reversed course in time to partially save face and put in motion a position that may help work against ignoring the problem in the future through an aggressive program of public awareness that the NFL is opposed to men beating up on women and children. The Adrian Peterson case, of course, also fed into this change of course in the NFL’s former soft policy on abuse.
Media. Media. Media. – That one public service message for TV that the NFL put together has the look of a classic. A baker’s dozen of some of the meanest looking guys in the NFL staring angrily at the camera – all expressing a simple message – “No More – Abuse of Women” – to all the abusive men out there sitting around, clean, neat, and sober – or just on the couch in their tidy-whities, drinking beer and getting drunk by half time – was altogether pretty powerful stuff.
Everything is about change and our adaptability to undeniable forces in our lives. In today’s multi-media world, none of us may any longer even go to the grocery store without making an appearance on someone’s security camera – and cell phone cameras? Wow! Have you ever wondered how many stranger crowd shots and selfies also include a few incidental images of you, as well? – George Orwell was right when he wrote “1984” as his future piece. He simply underestimated the timeline by not understanding how the personal computer and this thing we call the Internet and a plentiful supply of digital cameras and portable phones would change our world forever.
People still exist who write pen and ink letters. Some still use typewriters – the modern kind – the ones that run on electricity. And all these people still have land line phones, but absolutely will not get anywhere near a cell. Home phones often lack “call waiting” and “voice mail” features because – after all – we can only talk to one person at a time and – who needs a message? – If someone really wants to talk with us, they can call us back when we are “picking up”! Right?
Most of these people are called “seniors”, but not all of us seniors are so change resistant. It’s like this example. When the then younger people of my generation once bought their tickets for the train ride through life, many did not buy passage to a future they could not see coming. So, when we got here, those who didn’t like what they saw just decided to treat everything that was new, scary, or intimidating as something that didn’t exist. Computers were too out of the picture from the future they once imaged. s
Some of us, however, only regret that we will not be around long enough to see the really great further changes that are on the way. In the meanwhile, we will just burrow into the joy of the only time zone that really exists, anyway – the here and now – and soak it all in to the best of our adaptive abilities.
The talk show caller was right. There is only one season – and that season is the present – and our involvement in the here and now with whatever fires our passion for living without harming the health of others or ourselves. I guess I’m still “old-fashioned” in that regard. If we cannot find our passion-calling in life without our actions bringing intentional or collateral damage to others or ourselves, whatever we are doing to cause these harms is not a passion course, but a call to evil and insanity by the human ego.
The things are really important to us everyday are confined to seasonal interest only – and there’s no better example of that than Rogers Hornsby. When someone once asked him what he did during the winter, when there were no baseball games to be played, he supposedly answered, “I just stare out the window and wait for spring.”
Too bad old Rogers didn’t have access back then to a personal computer and the Internet. That little window is a lot more interesting during the winter time than the one that only peers out to the yard and today’s sky.