Many of you couldn’t care less about pro football. But you’ve probably heard about the quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, Andrew Luck, retiring from the game because of ongoing injuries that have kept him out of action, undergoing surgery, in rehab and regularly wondering when the next injury will hit.
His injuries over his short career include:
» Torn cartilage in 2 ribs
» Partially torn abdomen
» A lacerated kidney that left him peeing blood
» At least 1 concussion
» A torn labrum in his throwing shoulder
» The most recent calf/high ankle injury
When fans got word during an exhibition game of his leaving many booed him as he left for halftime. Nice going, Indianapolis. Way to show the country how much class our fans have compared to those terrible Steelers, Patriots and 49ers fans (oh, wait, the 49ers don’t have any fans, do they?)
The bigger issue here for me isn’t the response to Luck, however. The boos weren’t coming from everyone anyway. More likely, it was a small sample, though small in many ways.
Andrew Luck is a classy guy, knows his priorities and the team will survive, perhaps even thrive under a new quarterback and a really good coach. My question is: when is our culture going to quit their shameless, arrogant dumping in public on anyone they disagree with? What happened to tolerance and diversity on both sides of politics, morality, science, religion, culture in general and even sports?
We constantly hear about people protesting things to begin conversations about certain issues but those conversations rarely happen because in most cases one of the sides believes they’re the only ones who are right. But they call themselves tolerant.
And for some reason their being right gives them liberty to disrespect the person or persons who don’t see things their way: walk out of their commencement speech, boo them as they leave the field, call them names, attack their character in a governmental hearing or slander them on a talk show.
Consequently, little of value is accomplished in the arena of ideas. There’s never a healthy, informed dialogue that gets us anywhere. And that doesn’t include the impressions these responses leave with the young kids in the audience. “Hey, did you catch my dad booing OUR quarterback because he has to retire from the game he loves and is giving up tens of millions of dollars in the process just to spend more time with his family and not go through all the pain of the injuries? I’m so proud.”
Too few seem ashamed by this constant assault on people’s character. No one’s going back to apologize. No writers are retracting their mean, uninformed statements and I don’t hear many saying they’re sorry for disrespecting a public official or leader.
Disagreement and conflicting ideas are healthy to future actions and decision making. Say what you want in private. Conflict in the right context can accomplish a lot. But disrespect is rarely productive and comes off as cheap which it is. Free speech that is disrespectful is never free.
It used to be that an older, experienced official, leader, pastor, quarterback, coach or President received respect because of their role and office. Not anymore. However, you don’t have to agree with someone to treat them respectfully. It’s time more people reject the strong voices with big platforms who misuse their freedom to hurt people rather than dialogue with them.
My sense is that when people don’t have a winning argument they tend to play the disrespect card out of frustration. Just the other day, I read a national journalist in a major newspaper who made statement after statement about a group of people’s responses to an issue. The problem is that every “fact” he claimed true about the group was false or a gross generalization.
It’s time that those of us in the general public take our own stand for kindness, honor and respect even for those who don’t see things the way we do. Model it first and demand it from at least those who lead us publicly. That’s a legacy that will change a lot more people in years to come, no matter what our football team does.