To say Darcy is a sports fan is to say that War And Peace is a tad long. He hid his mania for all things athletic from me for a while, but it became starkly obvious how much he needed sports in his life when we moved to London and he became obsessed by televised cricket. The most boring and confusing sport in the world.
Sorry, Brits 😉
So, we watch a lot of sports around here. We also watch Bryant Gumbel’s HBO show Real Sports (some of the best investigative journalism in the world, and yes, I am serious) and thanks to that show I am very well aware how incredibly gruesome the head injuries sustained by football players are, and how dire the long-term consequences of said injuries are. I truly think football is not too different than the gladiator games in Rome, and even though I was a cheerleader in high school and come from my own legacy of 49er fans (ahem: my father and brother are only slightly less fanatic than Darcy), I just can’t watch football in good conscience anymore.
On the other hand, I love baseball and have no problem taking the kids to Giants games. There are problems with baseball (steroids) but it’s not an inherently violent sport.
Basketball is more tricky. I don’t love professional basketball. I don’t love the morals some of the main players represent (LeBron James leaving his hometown team for a team with better prospects seemed selfish and I don’t like the veneration of Kobe Bryant) and the game is sort of dull.
However, I LOVE March Madness. The unpredictable nature of the tournament, the underdogs coming from behind and the last minute plays are truly exciting. There isn’t the big money, the players seem to play from the heart just for the glory of being there and making the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, Final Four seems to be the only goal. There’s also usually some compelling human story, and that story (Cinderella or otherwise) seems to reflect on American society.
This year, the biggest story is Kevin Ware and his gruesome injury, his courage after suffering this injury and the team’s determination to mark a victory from such a terrible event.
Normally, our son and Darcy would have been watching the game but we were in New Orleans for a wedding and Darcy began watching the game on the plane instead by himself. I am so glad he did, because what happened next was beyond comprehension.
WARNING!!!!! THIS FOOTAGE IS GRUESOME BEYOND ANYTHING I CAN DESCRIBE. Click at your own risk. I am not exaggerating.
Obviously, the faces of the players said it all. Basketball has a relatively low level of injury compared to other sports, and to see someone take a normal jump and for THAT to happen, well, it was incomprehensible, scary, horrific and your heart went into your throat and all you could think was just immense sympathy for Kevin Ware. His teammates were in tears and apparently some of them actually threw up.
What happened next is just as incomprehensible: Ware, in terrible, horrible pain, called over his teammates on Louisville and asked them to “just win the game, y’all.”
Which they then did, handily defeating powerhouse Duke.
I have been very disturbed about this story all day. I think it’s because as a mother of a son, I worry about sports. About the messages of sports. I know that there are things that benefit boys and men about sports: talking about sports is how they bond. And I think I know why: in the language of sports talk, there is an emotional currency of sorts. You can express your horror safely by telling the tale of Kevin Ware’s injury, you can choke up over the victory of Louisville in Kevin Ware’s name. It’s a safe way to express your emotions to other men.
So I don’t want to take this away from my son (who is already obsessed with baseball cards and the Giants) but I worry.
Do you think sports are too violent? Do you watch sports? Would you let a child watch sports?