The "once in a lifetime great American eclipse of 2017" has come and gone--the fleeting moment lasting about 150 seconds where it was cool to be a nerd (note: this article is written by a permanent nerd)--and now our attentions turn back to the matter at hand: the impending kickoff of college football.
One of the great things about sports is their ability to connect people. All people. People from different backgrounds, different socioeconomic status, different cultures, different ethnicity, etc., will put that all aside to cheer for (or against) their team. When Ryan Nall breaks free and rumbles for 80 yards, I'm going to high five the first person with their hand up, regardless of what they do for work or who they voted for in the last election.
While sports have the ability to break down barriers, they also sometimes create them. Some are artificial, such as those formed by rivalries. Gary Anderson is trying to draw a dividing line between the Beavs and the Ducks (henceforth known as the Schmucks). I completely concur with his approach, not out of respect for Schmuck fans, because NO ONE respects Schmuck fans - not even their own players--but because its with respect for the sanctity of good competition and its probably a good thing for Oregon State. Other barriers are more serious.
Last Friday night I was talking to my Uber driver about the upcoming football season (shout out to Sylvester - five stars). Sylvester mentioned that he will not be following any football this year due to his perceived slight of Colin Kaepernick. I brought up that it could be the result of Kaepernick's inability to make downfield reads, and Sylvester response was, "that may be true, but Jay Cutler is garbage and he got $10 million." It was hard for me to argue with that because Cutler tried to throw in the towel and even that was intercepted.
Colin Kaepernick will continue to be a divisive figure throughout this football season. For some, it's because they disagree with Kaepernick's protest. For others, it's simply because sports are their escape and they don't want it associated with politics. Whether you agree with Kaepernick's protest or not, it should be acknowledged that certain groups of people are trying to peacefully voice a grievance they are feeling. We should not be able to debate whether they have the right to feel that way.
I'm hopeful that people can take one percent of their sports watching time this season to converse and connect about the issues at hand. With the level of saturation that sports have into many of our lives, they (sports) should be about more than just entertainment. Given the ability to break down barriers and be a common denominator, sports should be a vehicle for real-world dialogue and a means for change.
Agree to disagree on some or all of the things I’ve said above, but hopefully at least those of us at Building the Dam can all agree to dislike the Schmucks.
So cheers to the start of college football, to the connections we'll build with our teams and communities, and most of all, to the Beavs and a good season!