ESPN Caves, No One Should Be Shocked

The social issue of this particular day is Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlyn Jenner. For this, the internet has blown up. To this fact, I would start off by saying that whatever you may think of Caitlyn, she is now  taking her place in the multi-million dollar Kardashian industry. Caitlyn will have a Reality TV show and will undoubtedly sign mega contracts for a boat load of money. Who knows what she will advertise?

CaitlynIt is kind of amusing (though the case was hardly amusing) to me that the Kardashian industry can be traced in a not so convoluted fashion to the OJ Simpson trial, so as you can see, it all comes back to sports.

There is a great deal of “outrage” over Caitlyn being awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Why? Are you outraged when a really lousy movie is put up for an Oscar? Do you want to go postal when an awful television show gets an Emmy? Probably not; after a day or two, you really don’t care. The Oscars, the Emmy’s, the Golden Globes, the Billboard or MTV Music Awards all reflect popular culture. Get a clue: so does ESPN.

Back in 1976

Back in 1976, The Caitlyn Formerly Known as Bruce, was a national hero. Do not feel sorry for the man who was named Bruce; he did not live his life in obscurity prior to his decision. Though the years have faded his accomplishment, in a mostly forgettable Olympics in Montreal, Bruce won the Decathlon. It was an utterly amazing feat for an American. You may not like Caitlyn, but at 65 she could still kick your butt in the pole vault.

This past year, we experienced the death of Lauren Hill of Laurenceburg, Indiana. She was a remarkable young woman who died of brain cancer. She was honored by so many for struggling to play basketball even after it became obvious that the terrible disease would result in her death. She did not feel sorry for herself but instead raised money for pediatric brain cancer as she was dying. Should she have won the Arthur Ashe Courage Award? Maybe. Her life inspired the charity launched through the incredibly brave life and death of “Jim” Valvano” to donate money to brain cancer research. She also won the Pat Summitt Award. This awards stuff gets confusing. Still, people are outraged that Lauren didn’t win more.

Then we have those who are outraged that Noah Galloway didn’t win something. Galloway is an Army Veteran who competes in triathlons. He is also a double amputee.

Am I surprised he didn’t win the Arthur Ashe Courage Award? No, I am not.

We treat our veterans like crap in this country. We stand up in stadiums and cheer them off to war, or we name parks after them, but when they come back from war injured and broken, many of my fellow Americans don’t even want to give them the medical benefits that they deserve. Even Pat Tillman did not get the recognition he deserved by the sports community – and please don’t ask me who he was.

Now I come around to Caitlyn. She is certainly not the first patient to want to go from a man to a woman or in the other direction; gender reassignment surgery dates to the early 1930s. Statistics are difficult to come by as many surgeons performing this surgery are outside of our borders and many referrals are done under the radar.

Many who have this procedure are courageous in their own right. Jenner is no more courageous than any of them save for his persona and his connection to Kardashian fame and fortune. Still, there is courage involved and she/he is a well-known person. By this nomination, she could stand up for every kid who has ever been bullied or taunted for being different.

The ethical point in all of this is that the Arthur Ashe Courage Award is simply an award handed out by a popular sports network. It is not the Magna Carta or the Declaration of Independence; it is not civil rights legislation or any peace treaty that has ever been broken.

ESPN had a lot of choices. They chose ratings. If Caitlyn Jenner gets her spotlight on a sports stage you will listen. That’s what they want. If I am in charge of all of ESPN, my Board of Directors will love me for this move. I cannot fault them.

Here is the ethical message I want to share. I love what Lauren Hill stood for and so should you. If you really cared about her life, stick $20 in an envelope and send it to a cancer research center. Just shut up and do it. If you have more, give more. Bless her life by helping another life.

If you really care about Noah Galloway and what he is accomplishing, and who the heck wouldn’t, do something decent for a veteran today. Pick a war. Pick a veteran. I don’t care which one. Donate your time, give them a job or refer them to a job, fund a service for them such as an organization that trains dogs for PTSD victims, don’t look away from a disfigured man or woman who put it on the line so you can slam down a few beers on Sunday and watch professional sports.

Finally, if you want to show your support for Caitlyn, formerly Bruce, teach your kids, grandkids, nephews or nieces to protect those who are weaker. Do not let your child join in with other bullies; bullying is a coward’s way. Teach your child that every one of us is different in our own way.

In the end, it is positive actions and making good choices that count. Sooner or later awards collect dust and wind up in the basement.


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