NFL fans love the game for several reasons. We love watching excellence developed by years of hard work. Watching those athletes perform amazing feats is more than entertainment. It reminds us of the power of the creative individual working in the context of freedom to achieve greatness through teamwork, the essence of America.
That’s why last Monday night’s game was such a downer: we watched greatness succumb to mediocre, as in so many areas of our nation life these days.
The NFL brand has survived controversy and scandal. Somehow, players, coaches and owners managed to clean house and move forward, avoiding the tarnish other major sports have suffered, reflections of our general moral decline.
Men standing for goodness, courage and excellence in the NFL have inspired the rest of us, and they’ve set great examples for our young people. Much the same can be said of our military men and women. American athletes competing during the recent Olympics, another glowing source of inspiration, especially the American women. Despite growing regions of decline in our country, there remain islands of class and character.
However, when we look at those regions of decline, it can be especially demoralizing within the confines of a sputtering economy. Religious institutions are too often found weak and floundering. Political organizations, and institutions of government, display corruption. Mass media has become a humorless circus. Heroes are few, and many stumble. The low brow is celebrated. Evil is promoted in some quarters. Thanks to disoriented and hollow leadership we appear weak to our enemies, unfaithful to our friends, and suspicious of one another.
And so we tune in Monday night, yes to escape, but also to enjoy some of the best in America, to cheer excellence and witness greatness. But even here, greed and divisiveness, conflict and acrimony, translate to poor judgment, bad calls, and failure. We see an interception called a game-winning reception, repeating the insanity of calling the Ft. Hood terror attack an instance of “workplace violence,” and Benghazi, a spontaneous misfortune sparked by a video no one has seen.
One of the last places we go to be inspired turns into another deep disappointment instead. Making it worse, the bad call gets more attention than a President desecrating the flag. It’s not about the NFL or the Packers getting ripped off, or a Seahawk receiver lying through his teeth. Instead, it’s about all of us, cutting corners, and turning tail.
If we are to have greatness in America again, let it start with each individual taking personal responsibility, making it happen as one nation under God. Anything short of that commitment will see another penalty flag dropping us for a loss, and no amount of whining will make a damn bit of difference.
Image courtesy of Swtpc6800 en:User:Swtpc6800 Michael Holley; public domain