The spectacle is the nightmare of imprisoned modern society which ultimately expresses nothing more than its desire to sleep. The spectacle is the guardian of sleep.
— Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle
It is generally accepted that sports, especially spectator sports, serve many social purposes, good and bad, and that they function to distract people from the cares and worries of everyday life, or the “real world.” No doubt this is true. The etymology of the word sport, derived as it is from the word “disport” – divert, amuse, carry away – tells us that. But often a distraction can also be a reminder, even when that reminder remains shrouded in unconsciousness or forgotten in the moment. Sometimes, however, the reminder can be linked to memories that bring a startling clarity to the present.
Two recent sports news items have reminded me of incidents from my own athletic past. And those memories in turn have brought my reflections back to the current news regarding the failure of any National Football League (NFL) team to sign quarterback Colin Kaepernick to a contract, and the recent boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor.
Kaepernick’s case is well-known and much discussed. He took a valiant and principled stand last football season by taking a knee during the national anthem to protest the violent treatment of black Americans by the police and American society in general. History was on his side, unless one…