Well, you knew it was coming. In the aftermath of the nearly unfathomable events in Kansas City, that most mindless of sports clichés was heard yet again: Something like this really puts it all in perspective. Well, if so, that sort of perspective has a very short shelf-life since we will inevitably hear about the perspective we have supposedly again regained the next time ugly reality intrudes upon our games. Please, those who need tragedies to continually recalibrate their sense of proportion about sports would seem to have little hope of ever truly achieving perspective.Here's my perspective: A man committed murder and then murdered himself. But no, the perspective we're supposed to achieve is about how it's the gun that did it. Costas proceeds to read from a column by sportswriter Jason Whitlock, which I recommend reading in full. Here are my — not Costas's — extracts from that column:
A 25-year-old kid gunned down his 22-year-old girlfriend in front of his mother and three-month-old child, and all he could think to do in the immediate aftermath is rush to thank his football coach and football employer....Kid? A 25-year-old kid? Why are we infantalizing the adults who play sports? A man committed a vicious murder. All he could think to do? As if he were mentally deficient! When I first read this, it struck me as racist, but now I see that Whitlock himself is black. Perhaps that allows him to feel free to talk about the dead murderer as if he were a child.
... Twenty-eight hours after one of their best friends killed the mother of his child and himself, Chiefs players will take the field and play a violent game.Their best friend transformed himself into a dead murderer. They should grind their lives to a halt in his memory? A violent game? A man kills 2 human beings and they should respond by feeling squeamish about the violence of the sport? They should equate play violence to real violence? No. I'd say it's an occasion for drawing a sharp line between a game — a game with rules, played voluntarily — and the most evil transgression.
You may argue that we all grieve differently. You may argue that playing the game is the best way to move on and heal....Heal? Grieve? It was murder. Displays of sympathy for the murderer are inappropriate. To play the game was to deny the murderer any more power than he seized for himself. Put him at a distance. He is not you.
I would argue that your rationalizations speak to how numb we are in this society to gun violence and murder. We’ve come to accept our insanity. We’d prefer to avoid seriously reflecting upon the absurdity of the prevailing notion that the second amendment somehow enhances our liberty rather than threatens it.We're numb unless we react to one man's transgressions by relinquishing our attachment to traditional liberty? What other constitutional rights should we give up to prove our sensitivity to a transgressor's act of violence? Throw out free speech, because look at those riots over there? Freedom from search and seizure — that can't be worth it, now, numbsters, can it?
That is the message I wish Chiefs players, professional athletes and all of us would focus on Sunday and moving forward. Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments, and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it.Belcher was a murderer, responsible for what he did. To say otherwise is infantalizing, dehumanizing. There's not some outside force "wickedness" — unless you believe in The Devil! — that possesses a man and "explodes." How do you know that one day, that might not happen to you? In Whitlock's view, we're blind and complacent if we don't see that potential. We might just go nuts one day and if there are any weapons around, that random explosion will lead to death. Better ban the guns.
But we won’t. We’ll watch Sunday’s game and comfort ourselves with the false belief we’re incapable of the wickedness that exploded inside Jovan Belcher Saturday morning.