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Finding our place for sports in life: While We’re Waiting

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Happy Tuesday, WFNY!

How is everyone doing today? I hope everyone had a great Easter weekend and is now enjoying the NBA Playoffs.

I’ll admit, though, I’ve had a tough couple of days getting into sports. On Sunday I inadvertently saw the video of Steve Stephens senselessly murdering Robert Godwin Sr. Before I heard anything about this story or knew anything was going on, I was simply passed a link that said: “OMG, watch this: “. The video did warn me what I was about to see was graphic, but I don’t typically have a problem with graphic videos. But I had no clue what I was about to see.

To be honest, what I saw really shook me up. I wish I could say that it’s because this was the first time I ever saw someone get shot, but unfortunately, it’s not. It’s not the gore that bothered me so much. It was the pure evil and senselessness of the act that really got to me. That was a defenseless old man minding his own business walking home when a sad and pathetic asshole randomly decided to stop his car, get out, walk over to the man, and just shoot him in the head.

It’s not the kind of thing that easily leaves a person. And it’s not the kind of thing that should even be out there for us to see. It’s disgusting to realize I watched something that has become a living nightmare for Mr. Godwin’s family, friends, and loved ones. That this video was being passed around with a message that simply said “OMG, watch this:” is really a brutal indictment on where we are today in this internet age. That’s not the way Mr. Godwin should be remembered.

https://twitter.com/3bdullahAH/status/853761933249576960

https://twitter.com/AJs_Username/status/853777849462865920

This isn’t a new feeling, of course. Thinking that the world is going to hell around us is one of our favorite pastimes, handed down across generations. Things always seem to be getting worse in the world the older we get. Of course, that can’t possibly be true, or else Office Space might have the most poignant clip ever made:

The world constantly changes around us, yes, but so does our way of experiencing it. Indeed, it’s actually the context through which we perceive the world that changes more than anything else. There has always been evil people, a sliding scale of morality. When we’re young, we are sheltered from this side of the world, naive to the idea of ulterior motives and cruel intentions. As we grow up, we begin to define the world, but we view the world as a road of endless possibilities. We have real hope, we have idealism. Our whole lives are in front of us and we can do whatever we want. We can change the world!

The older we get, the more beaten down we get by the realization that real change is hard to achieve. There’s an order to life and humanity and at times it feels like we are here to merely play our parts. Which isn’t to say we give up or that we ever stop trying to leave our mark and make this world a better place than it was when it was given to us. We just become more acutely aware of the challenge. And that realization shapes the way we process the bad things that happen. And that is why we think things are getting worse in the world.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s problematic that social media provides a platform for videos like this to exist and thrive. 15 years ago, this would have been a murder that made local news and might have spread to a couple regional news outlets as the manhunt for Stephens widened, but video of it wouldn’t exist and it wouldn’t be readily accessible to literally anyone who wanted to see it. And is that notoriety and infamy part of the allure to committing this act in the first place? Is it possible that without social media and the 24/7 cable news cycle that Mr. Godwin would be alive today? It’s possible, I have no idea. It’s impossible for me to know what is inside Stephens’ head.

But I do know that technology and social media also have overwhelming benefits to our lives as well. My sister and her family live in Las Vegas. My brother and his family live in my hometown, a little over two hours away from me. Same with my parents. I don’t get to see them all as much as I would like, but social media has allowed me to still be able to watch my nieces and nephews grow up and to stay in touch with my family in a way that makes it sometimes seem like I live in the same town. I can keep tabs on so many friends and family members that I otherwise probably wouldn’t. I can’t sit here and say that social media hasn’t made my life better. It has.

So what does any of this have to do with sports? Not much. Not inherently, anyway. But all these thoughts have been flooding my brain the last couple of days and I’ve been struggling to find the energy to talk about things other than these large, sweeping questions about our place as a society. And our place in the world. Especially at a time when the news is filled with images of violence at protests in Berkeley, unease in places like Syria and North Korea, sideway glances at Russia, and unrest here at home with our current President.

I think more than anything, I find myself mostly filled with sadness at the divide between us as humans. Whether those divides are along racial lines, political affiliations, religious beliefs, ideology, philosophy, gender, or social class, we do seem to struggle to find common ground in a way that I’m not sure has always been this bad. We like to believe that we are progressing as a society at large, but in many ways, we are becoming more divided than ever, and it’s disheartening. It’s surreal that we live at a time where pseudo-intellectualism is being applied to bigotry in an attempt to make hate mainstream.

It’s hard to pivot from a lot of those things to sports. But sports has always been an escape for so many people. It’s an escape for many of the athletes and it’s an escape for many of us fans. Just because bad things happen in the world, it doesn’t mean we should feel guilty for enjoying other things and finding the things that bring us happiness. It’s all about maintaining a healthy balance and perspective.

And right now, sports has a lot to offer us in Cleveland. The Cavaliers are in the playoffs, finally! The Indians are struggling a bit more than we hoped, but still, it’s baseball season! And for the Browns, the NFL Draft is right around the corner! So be good to each other out there, everyone, and find your places for escape. For us at WFNY, it will continue to be sports and we have a great week of coverage lined up for you all. Have a great week, everyone.

  • NankirPhelge

    This sad episode once again exposes the banality of the mainstream news media, much more so than the banality of social media. This murder is getting wall-to-wall coverage by our local media, and it’s being hyped nationally as well. And for one reason and one reason only: it was on Facebook.

    The media pimps have even given the murderer his own catchy name, as only the news media can: The Facebook Killer.

    I find all of this abhorrent. There are scores of senseless murders in Cleveland every year, and most get a paragraph in the Metro section of the paper and a one-day mention on the airwaves. These killings are no less terrible. These victims are no less dead. Their families are no less grieving.

    What about the couple who owned the used car lot on the East Side who were murdered? They haven’t received 1% of the coverage that — cue dramatic musical sting — The Facebook Killer has.

    I hate this hype.

  • RGB
  • tigersbrowns2

    probably your best column ever … well done , ANDREW.

  • tigersbrowns2

    … good post NP

  • Thank you so much. I appreciate that.

  • mgbode

    “Republicans buy shoes too.” -Michael Jordan

    That is the important factor in sports. You can bind people together with a commonality they would not have been bound otherwise. You can offer a starting point of discussion.

    We can talk about social issues without going to flame wars on these pages because we have years of discussing sports together first. We respect each other, which leads us to not get as defensive when others here question our beliefs.

    Explaining your view rather than stirring things up is an important component in society.

  • mgbode

    Much of the hype is due to the fact that many people like Andrew had the video shoved in front of them w/o realizing what it was. Others sought it out to watch.

    No, other killings are no less terrible, but this murder depicted some bad things about our society. That Morning Joe on NBC was showing the video the next day (just w/ the face blurred) is also a quite sad statement on things.

  • jpftribe

    Well, that and the purge of Yinzers.

  • Garry_Owen

    “It’s surreal that we live at a time where pseudo-intellectualism is being applied to bigotry in an attempt to make hate mainstream.”

    ???

  • jpftribe

    Poignant and well written column Andrew.

    “divide between us as humans.” In my travels across this massive planet, I’ve found this to just not be the case. Whether it’s playoff game in Toronto, a piazza in Italy, a mosque filled Istanbul or a dirt village in Cambodia, people are decent, thoughtful and almost always friendly. I’ve always found the similarities are the meat and potatoes and the differences are spices.

    I don’t watch any “news” on TV, loathe the NYT et al., because it’s all BS.

  • Pat Leonard

    I won’t watch the video. I don’t have the stomach to see an old man shot in cold blood for no reason whatsoever. I’m also sickened by the idea of people sharing the video and seeking it out. There are people who are watching the video with smiles on their faces and “Oh!!!” expressions. It all disgusts me. This world is so broken.

  • tigersbrowns2

    good post MG …

  • tigersbrowns2

    good post JPF ! … i have always said that most people are good & decent human beings … and yes , there are those who just don’t get it.

  • Garry_Owen

    It is broken, but it has always been. There was a time when “civilized” people would gather in sports arenas to watch innocent people torn apart by animals and destroyed by armed men. If Rome had had Facebook . . . Yet, much of the good things that we have now are a credit to those Romans. Humans are weird, sick, wonderful, beautiful, awful creatures.

  • Garry_Owen

    Community. Can’t have civilization without first forming community.

  • Garry_Owen

    I’m not sure where I come out on this, and don’t know if people are “more” of one thing than the other or just about equal parts wonderful and horrible, but this is a well-stated point of view.

    No lie – the greatest hospitality I have ever experienced in my life was on a land and among people where other (and maybe the same) people tried to kill me nearly every day (and I, them, in fairness).

  • JM85

    I’m amazed at how local media botched this. Fox 8 didn’t go to live coverage and chose to keep airing Bing Bang reruns. Then 19 still had the video on their page yesterday.

  • NankirPhelge

    Well, they just found — DUN DUN!!! — The Facebook Killer near Erie, Pa., dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

    I’m sure the media scum are experiencing deep grief over this. Now they can hype this case up for another week or so at most instead of joyously riding the wave for months.

  • jpftribe

    Fair enough. My main point is I try and use my actual experiences to form my perception of things. It’s kinda like the stock market. Everyday 100’s of millions of trades made, someone loses their shirt, someone makes a fortune, most move fractionally. And yet Mr Market is down because of China or up because of Russia, yeah right.

  • Pat Leonard
  • chrisdottcomm

    “Civilization is crumbling”

    — someone every week since the age of enlightenment.

    (and also Bill Cutting but that’s neither here nor there)

  • Garry_Owen

    Gangs of New York? I only saw it once, but am I crazy for really liking that movie?

  • RGB

    Fantastic movie.
    It has kept me up well past my bedtime more than once.

  • chrisdottcomm

    Andrew I appreciate your words on the world view metamorphosis in someone’s lifespan.

    I was just remarking to a friend who welcomed his first child the other day the finger snap that occurs. I can remember being in my 20’s, out every night with friends aware but not caring of the wars in the Middle East. I’m sure adults at the time were glued to the threats of all out war, nuclear weapons, etc but what did I care? I didn’t have anything to lose.

    Flash forward to me at 37, a wife and two children now hyper-aware of the news coming from Syria, North Korea, Russia, etc. The pit in my stomach that forms every once in awhile at thoughts of those things being wiped away by some war I have no choice in.

    It’s a surreal experience indeed.

  • Garry_Owen

    Daniel Day Lewis could star in Home for Purim and it would be a fantastic movie. Example: There Will Be Blood. Horrible, horrible movie based on an even worse book; but Lewis made it terrific. I loved it, and know I shouldn’t have.

  • chrisdottcomm

    Absolutely not. Scorsese and Daniel Day Lewis were robbed at the Oscars that year.

  • RGB

    I haven’t seen that one. My wife says it’s great.
    Oh, I take that back, I have seen the “I drink your milkshake!” part.

  • Garry_Owen

    Good to know I’m not crazy (well, at least not based on this). I never hear anyone talk about that film, but I was enthralled when I saw it.

  • chrisdottcomm

    The Eyeball Killer, The Angel of Death, The Son of Sam, The Hillside Stranglers, Zodiac… all “catchy name” killers well before Facebook.

    Social Media and Mainstream Media have nothing to do with this hype. They are simply feeding the human desire for conflict.

  • chrisdottcomm

    DOLANZ IS CHEAP AND YOU KNOW IT.

  • chrisdottcomm

    *cough* *cough* ah hem…

    https://youtu.be/09BmlFlVotk

  • http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-nathan-damigo-alt-right-20161115-story.html

    I actually had that linked in my draft, but forgot to add it to the story. My bad.

  • CBiscuit

    I actually liked that movie not only for DDL, but I know I’m in the minority on that one. Ghoulardi’s son doesn’t make bad movies dammit!

  • Allen P

    I’m quite certain that having children changes much, if not everything, in one’s life – and shapes the way you percieve a lot of things. But I can say that you don’t need dependants to feel sick about the things that are happening around me. I remember staying up all night in January 1991, excitedly watching Desert Storm with the eyes of a 12-year old. Now, as a childless 39-year old, I feel much the same as you. I think it’s maturity more than anything that changes your perceptions on these things.

  • mgbode

    I’m 1K words into a post talking about “the human desire for conflict” – well said.

  • mgbode

    Here’s the thing. That guy is an idiot. A vast, vast majority of people understand he and those who think like him are idiots.

    That statement you said though could be used for more societal moderate stances – on both sides. Both the R’s and the D’s want us to fight each other and will use those demographics you mentioned above because it keeps an easy way for them to categorize, divide, and stay in power.

    I firmly believe if we can have more open conversations, then we’d have four parties rather quickly. The issue is that having those conversations on large scale is proving rather cumbersome (as I know there are many who have tried). There is a moderate left that doesn’t believe all that the D’s push, there is a moderate right that don’t believe all that the R’s push. We’d be a better country if we could have better political spectrum representation.

  • chrisdottcomm

    Can’t wait to read it. I hope it includes not only the desire for conflict but also the catharsis that comes from it.

  • chrisdottcomm

    It’s been my experience that individuals are decent but “people” as a plural are pitchfork carrying, torch wielding, easily persuaded cattle.

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    I focus more on the good that comes out of it but yes there is mention.

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