This weekend was a reminder of what we have had to sacrifice for the greater good of one another. One year ago Sunday, I watched the Chiefs win the Superbowl, a team that I have cheered for since the days of Christian O'Koeye, Frank Ganz, and Marty Schottenheimer. It was a moment I was able to enjoy and celebrate with friends & family; the feeling of watching them win was euphoric, a moment 50 years in making, and being a life long fan, knowing the history of Lamar Hunt and the league; watching their commitment through the years of tough losing seasons, winning seasons, and being so close so often has always been inspiring.
It displays a level of commitment that I deeply respect and find honorable. A commitment to a goal, ideal & principles. How is this connected to current events? Shortly after the 2020 Superbowl, lockdown measures were put into place; the months following proved difficult for so many people and disastrous for some businesses. Lockdown, what did that mean? It meant that there was an invisible threat that we were learning about as researchers and doctors themselves learned more about; it was a fluid situation. I recall the speed at which everyday life moved from ordinary to something unknown for most of us; it was minutes.
It was a Sunday night; we were helping kids get ready for what would have been a typical week at 5 pm, by 5:30 everything... schools, pools, gyms, businesses, restaurants....shut down. It was hard to deal with and maybe even harder to understand on an existential level. Why was that? Had we started to take our freedoms and luxuries for granted? In the western world, the ability to walk down the street, sit in a coffee shop, read a book, or meet with friends is a luxury. The ability to stop in at a friend's place or meet up with another family at a playground are luxuries that many cannot enjoy. Yes, taken for granted they were.
What followed is what makes humans human. Most of us reaffirmed the idea that there things more important than self when you are doing well. Checking in on others, helping others, seeing how exposed the most vulnerable truly are and finding ways to close that gap became more important. I have opened my eyes and let myself see the kind things that people can do, I was able to cast my cynicism aside even if it was just for a moment and truly see the good people can do. My journey through COVID was one that took me through many stages, defiance, disbelief, recognition, and the idea that there are things more important than the luxuries I had come to take for granted.
So what does all this have to do with the Superbowl? When professional sports started to return, they became a mechanism for joy after all, we all love a show or the luxury of a show, and it gives us something to unite over. As a nation, we rallied around a team of kids at the annual World Junior Hockey tournament, who played their hearts out for the name on the shirt's front, not the one on the back. The NBA & NFL acted as a megaphone as loud as MLK's March on Washington, DC. They helped amplify a nation's cries for acknowledgment and the need for solutions to racial injustice and inequality in all forms.
They forced people to stop and take notice of the magnitude of the problems in society; the NHL got there, although a little late to the movement. Even though we were/are in a time when we are dealing with unprecedented levels of mental health issues; people and families are struggling financially and businesses are facing seeming insurmountable challenges; sport became a key compeonent in applyfing the voice of BLM, Portland's Wall of Moms and other local groups all screaming "This has to stop." Today, we rally around games and events that first talk about social justice and then the game. Recognize that 7000 frontline workers attended the Superbowl in Tampa as a gesture of thanks for battling an invisible enemy in COVID-19; despite the disregard and disrespect of some who continued to choose "I" over "We."
The Superbowl and 2020 are the moments where I can say, "do remember where you were when."
...We had to shut down the world 2.3 million people have died to date worldwide.
...Where were you when George Floyd died by having a police officer kneeling on his neck for 7 minutes?
...Where you were when Ahmaud Arbery was shot for no reason
...Where were you when you saw that the lines of social division run deep and needed to reach a precipice so extreme before enough of us realized things have to change?
...Where were you when you saw people believe we can be better
What does this have to do with the Superbowl? It's about being able to lay everything on the line for 60 minutes, win while respecting your opponent, lose while respecting your opponent, and recognizing the opportunity for growth always exists.
There things more important than self when you are doing well. Chose we before I