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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.