Yes, the Superbowl last night was lackluster and with few exceptions (RadioShack, Budweiser’s Puppy Love, Coca-Cola and Cheerios were my favorites) the ads were meh. As usual, my Twitter stream was probably the most interesting thing I was watching. Usually quiet during a sporting event, even my Facebook wall seemed to be actively following both the game and the ads. Then I started to get disgusted. Early in the game a ton of memes, tweets and posts started showing up making fun and saying some pretty nasty things about Peyton Manning and the Broncos.
Yes, it is a sporting event and yes, some good natured ribbing and trash talking will happen. The problem for me is that some of the comments were just downright petty, mean and derogatory. Yes, Peyton and the Broncos had a bad night, a really bad night, but the fact is they got to the Superbowl. There is a certain amount of respect due to players who work incredibly hard to reach the pinnacle of their profession. And yet, here we were, we armchair quarterbacks, saying and publicly posting some really nasty stuff because they were having a bad night.
At one point I posted this on Twitter and Facebook
I got several responses, most of them private, essentially telling me to lighten up, it is just sports, it is just entertainment.
That was when I got really disgusted. It is not just sports. It is the example we give our kids. Coaches teach child athletes sportsmanship. Or at least they are supposed to. But what about the non-athletes or the kids who are only ok? What message are we sending to them? That if someone is not good enough or is having an off day, it is ok to make fun of them?
Kids learn what they hear and observe, not always what we say. They learn how to think and behave based on what the adults around them do and say. Whether it is making fun of Peyton Manning because he is having a bad ballgame or the racist tirades that were happening over the Coca-Cola or Cheerios ads (that is a rant for another day), kids will copy what they see and hear us doing.
We think that our little memes, jokes and comments, whether it is about sports, the color of someones skin, their ethnicity, sexuality, female or male bashing, whatever, are just “harmless entertainment”. We forget that kids are observing and listening and thinking that kind of behavior is acceptable.
We are all guilty of it, myself included, at one point or another. I just wish we would all start being more conscious of how our words and actions are observed by and reflected in the young people around us.
What are we teaching kids about sportsmanship and life in general? That you make fun of the ones who are not as good or are having an off day or are different?