Once upon a time, sporting events were as much about building character, learning fairness and how to conduct yourself as they were about perfecting a skill. Today it would appear that “sportsmanship” has little to do with sports.
Instead, sports are all about building self-worth and personal enjoyment. Heaven help anything that gets in the way of those two goals.
Winning? Well, that’s somewhere on the list of goals but certainly not above self esteem and fun.
I hate to boil this post Super Bowl discussion down to it’s simplest form – okay no I don’t mind at all. This love or hate of Cam has nothing (or very little) to do with race, it’s about old school versus new school. Should our athletes display sportsmanship in victory – and defeat, or should they be completely self-absorbed and we can then be either entertained or outraged by their actions?
Newton acted as he wanted in running up a 17-1 record showing no regard for the feelings of those the Panthers were beating along the way. Cam simply called it “having fun” and anyone who saw it for what it truly was, a classless acts completely devoid of sportsmanship, were painted as racists. (Now, full disclosure, there are still too many fans that are racists and don’t like Cam because of the color of his skin.)
Let me see if I can highlight the difference between old school versus new school as opposed to racism in viewing the public’s love or hate for Cam Newton. Let’s compare the general feeling most NFL fans have for Russell Wilson and Johnny Manziel. Wilson, a black person who carries himself in a way most old school fans would want to see their quarterback behave, is generally liked and respected. Manziel, who seems to care little about the consequences of his actions, is extremely polarizing. Much like Newton you either love or hate Johnny Football, not because of the color of his skin but because of the way in which he seems to show no regard for anyone other than himself.
Newton visiting hospitals or donating footballs to kids after touchdowns, much like the thousands of autographs Manziel gave freely to memorabilia dealers while at A&M, doesn’t change the way they carry themselves as celebrities.
Newton couldn’t show any class or sportsmanship in victory so it comes as no surprise that he couldn’t handle defeat without petulance and the behavior of a spoiled brat.
I can do without the “dab” but I still enjoy watching Newton play. He’s become a better NFL quarterback than I thought he’d be. He earned the MVP this season and I enjoyed watching him play. I also enjoyed watching Manziel at A&M and was hoping to see that QB in Cleveland, but his immaturity and personal demons seemed to have taken that opportunity away.
But don’t blame the player. The “old school generation” is the one that can’t understand why their children seem entitled and lacking grace and understanding. After-all they gave them 4′ trophies for participating in tee-ball at five years old because the risk of having their kids earn a trophy by winning might have hurt their self-esteem if they actually had to, you know, earn it by winning.