I watched the Denver Broncos almost lose to the Baltimore Ravens yesterday. Quarterback Peyton Manning looked terrible, making many throws that were not even close to the intended targets. The running game was basically nonexistent. What did exist, despite the miserable offensive play, was a preponderance of selfish and stupid posturing by several of the Bronco players. Two plays stand out in particular.
Late in the game the Raven's quarterback delivered a pass to the end zone that, if caught, would have given the Ravens the victory. I do not recall the name of the cornerback who was defending the receiver but he jumped vainly into the air while the ball sailed past him into the receiver's hands. As quickly as the ball arrived it also fell to the ground as the receiver dropped a catchable pass. What was the reaction of the Bronco's defender? He immediately jumped to his feet and began to make the physical motion made by the officials to indicate it was an incomplete pass. He strutted about, was bumped in various ways by several of his teammates and eventually returned to the defensive huddle. He acted like had had actually done something when all he did was happen to be in the same zip code as an opposing player dropped a pass.
Later in the game, on the last play of the game in fact, the Raven's quarterback delivered what would have been the game winning touchdown pass to the end zone where it too was dropped by the receiver. This pass was far better defended by the Denver defensive players. The first defender was basically doing an illegal move known as "face-guarding" where he just runs forward with his hands in the air in front of the receiver's face while the ball is coming towards the receiver's hands. By sheer luck he was not called for the foul and the ball bounced off his hands and into the air as another Bronco defender came slashing across the field to catch the ball before it hit the ground. It was a game winning and game ending interception. What was the reaction of the first defender to the outstanding play of his teammate? He sat on the ground and vigorously waved his arms in the "incomplete" motion mentioned earlier, totally oblivious to the fact that his teammate had just made the interception. He was so caught up in his own sense of self importance he could see nothing else.
I was watching replays of a local college team on Saturday night when I saw a play that amazed me. A receiver playing for a Colorado team had just made a good catch of a difficult pass near the opponent's goal line with just six seconds to play. How did he respond to his catch and the importance of getting off a potentially game winning play before the time clock ran out? He jumped around exulting in himself while looking for fellow players to exchange various bumps with as the rest of his teammates watched in horror, yelling at him and motioning for him to get to the line of scrimmage before time on the clock ran out. Time on the clock ran out, another play was not run and the Colorado team lost the game.
Perhaps the best example of selfish play that took place this past week was seen in the high school football game in Texas where two players physically assaulted an official. You have probably all seen the video. If not, just Google it and you can watch it for yourself. Two teenage boys pumped up on testosterone and who knows what else took it upon themselves to blindside and spear an official they did not like. As the ball was snapped the first boy hits the official squarely in the back at full speed, viciously knocking him to the ground. The second boy flies into the picture and, leading with his head, spears the official while he is lying on the ground. As far as I know neither the boys nor their coaches have been disciplined for their blatant assault upon another human being. If this had happened on the street there would be several people in jail right now. The boys defended their actions claiming, alternatively, that the referee called them a bad name, the refereed made several bad calls that hurt their team and that their coach had told them to take the referee out.
I am picking on football players because that is where the media attention is right now. The same could be said for basketball players, baseball players and the occasional cricket player. People who play popular sports who happen to be good at what they do are worshiped by a demented group of fans who can't distinguish between what matters in life and what is an utter waste of time. This insular world creates monstrosities that go around seemingly incapable of having a thought about anyone or anything other than themselves. Other than the entertainment value provided by these monsters to those who consider their exploits worth watching, these people provide no meaningful service to society whatsoever. It all reminds me of that infamous interview with the steroid-addicted Barry Bonds. After droning on and on about how great he was as he approached the all time home run record even Barry ran out of gas. In exasperation that talk about him might be coming to an end he exhorted the media that had gathered around him by saying, "I am done talking about myself. Now you talk about me for a while."