Super Bowl XLVI and public discourse


Editor’s note: This is a post in place of one I should be writing. Basically, to cover for my procrastination. But this is also something worth doing regularly — checking out others thoughts on our times.

What?

Charles Barkley says something worth listening to? (Kidding. I have no opinion, yay or nay, on Barkley. Just don’t let him host Saturday Night Live anymore)

He did. He was quoted in this article by ESPN.com Senior Writer Howard Bryant, saying this:

Media and expectations have changed everything. Everyone’s afraid of it because if you miss a shot, if you miss a play, that overshadows the whole series, your whole career. So guys just want a ring, but they don’t want to risk losing. If you don’t want to risk losing, you shouldn’t even be playing.*

*This is somewhat ironic to hear from Barkley, who now makes a living as a professional basketball color analyst, providing snap judgments, sometimes within seconds during a game, more often minutes after its over. Is he ranting against the very thing he creates?

But, regardless, it sounds like there rings a bit of truth to it. Bryant’s writing about the outcry from the public (mostly football fans) over the New England Patriots’ loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI this past Sunday. Fantastically consistent and indispensable players (Wes Welker) have been vilified for mistakes during the game. A first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback (Tom Brady) is being cut down to size for not leading his team to victory.

Bryant doesn’t like where the state of public discourse — or, more specifically, public reaction — in our country has gone:

If the only takeaway by fans and media pundits from two teams that hit hard and compete hard to win is blame assessment instead of a recognition of a terrific drama, then a very important component of the sporting experience has been lost. The opportunity to succeed is worth the risk of failure.

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