An incredible game took place Monday night between the Auburn Tigers and Florida State Seminoles has they battled for the BCS National Championship. By and large, last night’s game was a perfect picture of everything that is right with college football and why we as a nation, love it so much. Yet, even in the midst of this spectacular game, I was struck by how often, certain players took the opportunity to say “hey, look at me, yes, I am all that!!”. I won’t call the individuals out by name but there were several of them.
I understand that in the heat of the moment or in the exuberance of making a play, a player will be excited, jump to his feet and pound his chest a couple of times and then celebrate with his team. Today’s athletes however, seem more likely to run to the cameras (they know exactly where they are), and make Madonna proud by striking a pose or turning their backs to the camera and pointing to their name on the back of the jersey. as Vernon Davis illustrates above. At one point last night, one individual thought so highly of himself that he took it upon himself to taunt the entire opposing team.
There are some players who still understand that it’s about the team first, individual accomplishments second and oh how refreshing it is to here an athlete these days, being genuinely humble. Obviously, it’s football season and especially with all the bowl games, we have been witness to an overwhelming amount of grandstanding these past two weeks. Lest you think this only takes place in football, I will remind you that 80% of the truly great grand standers play in a local NBA arena near you. It’s rare these days that you will ever catch me watching an NBA game for that reason.
I know some out there are probably going to try and make the argument that these kids/young men are just having fun and some have suggested that it is just the culture these days or it’s just this generation. Label it, justify it, excuse it all you want but it is nothing more than being selfish. And shame on my generation for allowing this to become acceptable behavior in sports and really, across all venues of our lives today.
My generation has done nothing to address the trend of – “it’s all about me” and truth be told, we have helped perpetuate the antics of these individual. I know there have been plenty that came before him – Reggie Jackson, Rickey Henderson, Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson, O.J. Simpson, Joe DiMaggio, Dizzy Dean, Satchel Paige and Babe Ruth just to name a few but Deion Sanders was the first that I can remember that truly understood and developed his own brand – Prime Time. In my opinion, he was and still is the most talented athlete to ever play the game and although you may disagree with that I believe you would be hard pressed to find anybody that was better than he was at promoting himself!!
I bring Sanders up because I used to be the guy that would excuse some of his antics by saying he was just a showman that happened to play football, or that he was simply being entertaining and that was true. He was all of those things and I had no problem with it….until he moved on from the Falcons and Braves. I was there when he picked off the pass and danced all the way down the sidelines in front of the Falcons bench. In that instance, he disrespected the Falcons, his team and the game of football. He made himself bigger than the game.
Unfortunately, he was just helping to refine the art of self-promotion that we see is so rampant in today’s sports and society. As I watched last night I realized that I and we need to own up to the fact that we have helped create this “it’s all about me” culture and unless we start addressing it now, it’s only going to get worse and truth is, it may already be too late.
There is a word that is associated with everything I have written and I have referred to it a couple of times already but I will clarify it now. This generation has very little respect for others and I’m not just talking about sports now but rather our entire culture. Anytime an individual places themselves above, in front of and at the expense of others or without regard to others, that is called selfishness.
*NOTE – there are additional reasons as to why we have this culture today and perhaps I will try and address those in a later post.
Peace and thanks for reading!!