Time was when watching a major sporting event was an escape from business as usual and day-to-day routines. Thank you, sports sanctuary. Our jobs, our families, our concerns could be put on hold while we cheered and yelled and drank and cursed and celebrated. That was then; this is not.
I watched the Bucs-Steelers game on Monday to see Ryan “FitzMagic” Fitzpatrick for myself–but there was no way to avoid the overall context of his unexpected prominence. Were it not for Jameis Winston’s sleazy doppelganger, Fitzpatrick would have been carrying the back-up quarterback clip board instead of carrying the team with a couple of stellar performances. You can’t speculate on Fitzpatrick’s future–even after the disappointing Pittsburgh loss–without factoring Winston, who has been the face of the franchise. We all know why he didn’t play against the Steelers. Not even the NFL will let a team go out and win one for the groper. Entitled macho men taking liberties with women is something the league is trying to distance itself from. It’s criminal; it’s degenerate; it’s evil; and, yeah, it’s bad for the league’s image.
Actually, this was more like a microcosm of where America is these days. #MeToo is not just the next-up generation of female activists. It’s symptomatic of these specific, disturbing times. You can’t have an arrogant avatar of immorality and misogynism in the White House without repercussions and increased societal awareness. The Oval Office occupant can’t be a role model for celebrity predators.
And it’s not, of course, just professional sports, a subset of show business, that invites #MeToo scrutiny. Hell, you can turn on the TV and see it at play in the nomination hearing of a Supreme Court justice. And it will continue to permeate other niches of society until a post-Trump America finally gives more than lip service to the self-flattering notion that, indeed, “we’re better than this.”
And then, maybe, we can get back to tuning in to a big game or an important hearing and simply watch skilled athletes and pandering politicians play their roles without a back story of sexual misconduct.