Point of Emphasis

On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS August 19, 2013 #450     Up next…Point of Emphasis.

After further review… The National Football League is stressing safety as a major point of emphasis for the 2013 season. The safety issue comprises several dangerous techniques including “using the crown of the helmet to deliver a forcible blow to an opponent,” using “unnecessary force on a defenseless player,” and “low blocks that tend to ‘blow-out’ an opponent’s knee”. (Further delineation can be found in the NFL rule book). The message to players and coaches is clear: Safety is of major importance! This newfound emphasis is not intended to eliminate the physicality of the game of football. Blocking and tackling with developed skill and vigor is still the way to play the game.

There is another point of emphasis this writer is compelled to point out: the use of derogatory and racially-offensive language. Riley Cooper, a fourth year wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles was recorded using the “n” word in challenging backstage security personnel at a Kenny Chesney concert a couple of months ago. When the footage was made public the Eagles fined him for “detrimental conduct,” and then excused him from T*E*A*M activities for several days so that he could pursue counseling. Cooper has since apologized to his teammates and rejoined the team.

Was that a strong enough response? It is well known that the term (my sensitivity to its use prevents me from spelling it out) is used frequently in African-American culture as both an iconic and endearing jest; does such use constitute a double standard? The opinion here that it does indeed!  If it is off-the-charts offensive in one direction, it should not be tolerated in any other way. Comic use aside, the “n” word has such a ghastly connotation that as long as anyone utters it, its poisonous will remain. The controversy that the Cooper incident ignited is a not-very-subtle reminder of that. Are fines and suspensions for detrimental conduct in such cases ever going to be enough? Can we ever reach a point where the word is virtually eliminated for use by everyone?

Yes, but only if we—all of us—eliminate it from our thinking and speech. And that, like safe blocking and tackling techniques, takes a lot of practice.

Will you practice a world view free of racial slurs?

To contact Jim go to www.jimtunney.com or email him at jim@jimtunney.com.

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