. . . or How Propagandhi Helped Alleviate (Some of) the Ethical Concerns Around my love of Sports
But I guess it comes down to what kind of world you want to live in. . . Propagandhi
Along with my unabashed love of music, I also am an ardent sports fan, but it comes with many recrimination and caveats. At their purest level, the games I follow celebrate team-building values, individual excellence, and tell an unfolding national and cultural history, drawing connections between past and present and across cultures. How can you not love watching the kid or kids from various towns rising to the largest stage, carrying the weight and expectations of countless fans, whether a city, a state, or a country, to the pinnacle of their field?
But, the reality is unfortunately not so simple or story book. All sporting events, whether professional or collegiate, are subject to the same capitalistic, opportunistic, exclusionary, and oppressive strains that exist throughout history and culture. One simple example in the fantasy alluded to above is the fact that the kid or kids on the screen or in the papers are usually men. As a society we are still amazingly behind in equality of the sexes in the sporting world (not that other industries or sectors are that much better).
But, we improve or strive to improve over time. Yesterday, in fact, was another important chapter in the progressive evolution of sports with Jason Collins’ announcement, the first active professional athlete to come out. It is definitely a great story and hopefully the beginning of more to come. However, I also wonder why Jason Collins’ announcement was more widely reported than Brittney Griner’s (Baylor Grad, NCAA Champion and soon-to-be WBNA #1 draft pick) similar announcement weeks back. I think I know the answer to that but more than anything it reveals what is true about sports and the culture and media surrounding it: it’s a complicated area.
On the eve of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, I am eager for weeks of playoff hockey but, as always, my excitement is tempered with concern and the question “why do I care about something so ostensibly frivolous?” (Now don’t say that to the rabid Blackhawks fans that I’ll likely be cheering with. But for me it’s true, and, this is coming from a boy who has cried on countless occasions when his sports teams choked. #noshame)
What does this have to do with music? Listen to this song by the phenomenal Canadian Punk rock band (and equality activists) Propagandhi*, “Dear Coach’s Corner”. It is a little palliative for those of us who engage in the internal struggle of being a thoughtful and/or progressive individual and a sports fans. We love the game(s) but cringe at the culture and circus surrounding these kids’ games**.
Off the soap box and into the frying pan,
… and go Hawks!
* The gentlemen of Propagandhi are no strangers to politically themed or driven songs. Check out their fantastic Less Talk More Rock or Today’s Empires Tomorrow’s Ashes. Whether you agree with everything they fight for or not, I will say that they do manage to package their message into some powerful art with a health dose of self awareness (i.e., “…and yes I recognize the irony that the system i oppose affords be the luxury of biting the hand that feeds…” from another song with a hockey allusion). “I was a Pre-Teen McCarthyist” has always resonated quite a bit with me.
** No disrespect meant to professional athletes. You get to live out the dreams of countless children and adults(-like children like myself).