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December 14, 2012

Life’s Tragedy In Perspective

Derek Shackelford

We live in an information age. Now whether the information is true or not is another story. Competition to be first exists among media conglomerates, blogospheres and social media.


The tendency to be ahead leads us to be the first with the commentary, first with the exclusive, and first with disseminating the information to the public. With this mentality also comes the first to be criticized, first to be scrutinized, and even the first to be wrong.


Take for instance during halftime of the recent telecast of NBC’s Sunday Night’s Football. Award winning broadcaster Bob Costas took the opportunity to discuss the murder/suicide deaths of Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher and his longtime girlfriend Kasandra Perkins. It was not so much the information that Mr. Costas reported that caused such a stir; it was his opportunity to comment and relate the deaths to the issue of guns and gun control. What his commentary created in the following days was the criticism of Mr. Costas for using the slotted time to discuss a political hot topic during the football game.


It is interesting to note that while Mr. Costas received much of the heat, it apparently went unnoticed that the comments were not original with him. They were lifted from a column by Jason Whitlock, a national syndicated columnist from Fox Sports. Here are the comments in the context of Mr. Whitlock’s column:


“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.


“How many young people have to die senselessly? How many lives have to be ruined before we realize the right to bear arms doesn’t protect us from a government equipped with stealth bombers, predator drones, tanks and nuclear weapons?


“Our current gun culture simply ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy, and that more convenience-store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead.


“In the coming days, Belcher’s actions will be analyzed through the lens of concussions and head injuries. Who knows? Maybe brain damage triggered his violent overreaction to a fight with his girlfriend. What I believe is, if he didn’t possess/own a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.”


Of course, one has the right to agree or disagree with Mr. Whitlock’s column. That is a discussion for another time. What apparently has been lost in all of this, because of our politicized culture and world, is the tendency to grasp at issues that stir our passions and emotions to the point we may miss the entirety of the issue at hand. The disturbing aspect of this case is how domestic violence has reared its head again and taken the life of a young woman.


Yes, it is true that Jovan Belcher murdered Kasandra Perkins. Questions linger beyond the deaths of these two individuals; but they are bigger than the aspects of guns. Why would a young athlete be so mentally disturbed that he felt the need to take another life? Also, why would the Kansas City Chiefs play a football game within 24 hours of these tragic events? Have sports so saturated our culture that the capacity to escape life’s reality is worth playing no matter the circumstances.


Interestingly enough, the games still went on and subsequently it was during a football game that Bob Costas reminded us – whether intentionally or not – that football is just a game and life is bigger than football. Life’s tragedy has a way of putting sports in its proper perspective.


Then again, sports should always be seen in its proper perspective when it comes to the conjecture of human life.


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