Noted author and sports journalist Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press, like many Americans, has taken note of the recent displays of disrespect by professional athletes, and, regarding the issue of boycotts of White House visits in particular, says that it’s time to bring that tradition to an end.
His reason? Basically, that people have found it impossible to act like earnest, respectful adults in the current politico-social climate, and so events and rituals that demand earnest, respectful behavior should simply be discarded.
In fact, when looking at the matter from the standpoint of simple pragmatism, Albom makes a great deal of sense when he matter-of-factly suggests that “if I’m throwing a dinner party and a chunk of my guests make a point of telling people why they’re not coming, maybe the dinner party isn’t such a great idea.”
As of this writing, six members of the New England Patriots have said they will not participate in any Super Bowl victory visit to the White House. While admitting that players obviously have the right to refuse the opportunity to visit, he calls doing so “rude,” pointing out that “since most presidential elections are about 50-50,” it’s reasonable to assume that “half the athletes who have visited the White House over the years didn’t vote for the man occupying it. So what? You can respect the office. The tradition. The reverence of our flawed but still-beautiful democratic system.”
That’s not where we are anymore, however. Politically and culturally, we have quickly become a sort of Bizarro World, where “respect” and “reverence” are nowhere and rudeness is not only everywhere, it is enthusiastically encouraged by far too many.
That said, it is what it is, and perhaps, for the time being, it serves the rest of us right that our unwillingness to demand better from the rabble-rousers in our midst begins to cost us some of our more storied traditions. Maybe when enough of us notice how much things have changed for the worse…how truly Bizarro our world has become…we’ll finally work to change things back.
By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large