Sunday, February 25, 2018
Celebrate Good Times…Together
As published in The County Times (www.countytimes.somd.com)
By Ronald N. Guy Jr.
New Year’s: ‘Tis the season for dropping balls, big parties and spirited (but responsible, of course) consumption. Wild celebrations asides, New Year’s is, at its essence, a spectacular pivot point between what was and what will be. It is a simultaneous divorce and marriage, death and birth, end and beginning.
At no other time of year does past and future so equally share space in the mind. The expiration of one calendar and start of another locks one eye on the rear-view mirror and the other through the windshield. This co-mingled awareness of yesterday and tomorrow invites, essentially out of obligation, an assessment of individual progress, world events and, with the right company and juuust the right amount of a magical elixir, the general course of our existence.
It’s a spooky exercise. Who are we? Where have we been? Where are we going? On-track? Off-track? Are we perfectly conscious or thoroughly confused? Who knows where the moment’s grandeur - and a few glasses of your chosen poison - will scatter one’s thoughts?
The verdict on the past year is inevitably harsh: too much weight gained, too many goals left unaccomplished, increased vice decreased screen time and social media usage, stress-reducing gameplans abandoned with hardly a fight and calls to friends left unmade. In a nut, a greater version of ourselves never emerged and all resolutions were ablaze by Valentine’s Day.
But like once-suffering Cubs fans said, “Wait ‘till next year”. Well, it’s here, and with it arrives another chance to be everything we swore we’d be last year.
Cheers to that, eh?
A scroll through 2017’s “Views from the Bleachers” revealed the expected combination of local and national sports topics. The excruciating playoff failings of the Nationals and Capitals and Kirk Cousins’s frustrating contract situation prompted several melancholy discussions of “The Darkness”, D.C.’s sports curse. It even caused one piece to be “written” by my mythical pal Duke Radbourn; the gloom of D.C. sports had rendered me unable to write.
The inspiring play of Mississippi State G Morgan William and Oklahoma City Thunder G Russell Westbrook and the feel good season of Nationals 1B Ryan Zimmerman periodically brightened the mood. Diamond Stone’s accelerated entry into the big bad adult world of the NBA offered a cautionary tale. LeBron James – the man as much as the basketball player – was passionately defended and LaVar Ball - jerk-of-the-year candidate - was taken to task.
The dominate theme, though, and the one that generated the most responses from the community, developed from pieces that addressed Colin Kaepernick, anthem demonstrations and, more generally, the inescapable intersection of sports and politics in 2017.
It was a “sign of the times” of sorts. Whatever you think of President Donald Trump, it would be difficult to argue against adorning him with the well-earned nickname “The Great Agitator”. Upon taking office, he dumped society and sports into a paint can, locked it in one of those industrial paint shaking machines and hasn’t turned it off since – for good (some?) or ill (mostly).
But fear not, this piece isn’t going there. What I will offer is this: Over the next few weeks there will be fans and players of college and professional football teams celebrating bowl wins, playoff games and championships. In those victory celebrations you’ll witness unqualified unity. Nothing will matter but common love of team or teammate. Race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and political persuasions will be irrelevant.
Absorb the visual and carry it close in 2018. Politicians will deface democracy and its natural discord by preaching that the other side is absolutely wrong, that different opinions should be ignored, that all news is fake and that if the opposition wins the country will collapse and be consumed by the fires of Hell…all to the wild cheers of Vladimir Putin and Kim Yong Un.
Don’t take the bait; it’s the rhetoric of those drunk on ego or compromised by special interests. Instead, remember those celebrating teams and fans as a metaphor for our shared principles and common humanity – forces far more consequential than our differences.
Now there’s a resolution to celebrate while we’re watching a ball descend…together.