Monday, January 5, 2009

The Reality of Culture

It never ceases to amaze me how our present at times simply is a mirror image of our past. As a history nut, I confess to love the old stuff and all the characters and their times, but for a country that continually professes its "progress" on the cultural front you can still find those old line allegiances and bias propping up.

No I am not talking about out right bigotry of anyhting like that, but what I am referencing is our continual bias against or indifference to the unknown or traditional state of affairs. Politics certainly has its share of bias of course and it perpuates the myth that someone only "certain schools" prepare leaders for leadership. You know the token few; the Yales, Harvards and Princetons of the world, but is it the education that prepares or is it the networks those institutions have created over the years that prepares or elevates its own.

I say this in large part because much of our founding tradition was based on the idea that a son was not bound to his fathers status. A man could and should make it on his own and determine his own worth. This is not to say that there still did not present itself the opportunity to create an American ruling class or elite; which apparentl;y is still alive and well today at least in the way in which those within perceive those that are not. An example of this was the outright onslought of attacks against the likes of a Sarah Palin for example who did not possess the "right" pedigree of schools or associations to be elevated to such a prominent position regardless of any particualr talent, skill or demonstrated success she may have had in that "what amounts to nothing State" as the media would say in Alaska. Even as a Republican, had she been a Governor from a Northeastern State like the attacks would have most likely been less directed. Remember the brunt of the attacks launch against Palin came upon her selection or within days of and long before any interviews. The objective was to portray her somehow less worthy, not on substance, but on lineage or education or frankly where she comes from.

Of course we see these bias like this everyday but hardly recognize it. It is so much easy to play the tired "bigotry in the South" card everytime we speak of such outright bias, but is there a difference between things like discrimination based on the color of skin and that based on some baseless elitelist metality that one part of nation is better than another or one set of schools are better than another and if you belong to this tradition than you are somehow better than someone who has not. Both are rooted in ignorance.

But we see this in even the most irrelevent of things on the world stage; the NCAA. Anything governed by man is bound to have its issues, but the NCAA and how it regards its colleges and the traditon of those schools along with the media (again the media) plays homage to the elitism that plagued our country. In fact, something as meaningless as rankings prove such bias. Its not about what occurs on the field, but about "who" it is on the field.

This "who" is aexactly what our founding fathers rebelled against. That somehow the success of one school or team is greater than another because frankly one school has had a long tradition of success and therefore deserves homage, whether they deserve it or not. Its more about the schools than the teams on the field.

Case in point. Utah goes 13-0 after defeating a storied program in Alabama in its bowl game and still will be given zero respect by the media. Mind you the Bama team they beat spent significant time at #1 in the nation and were forced through the bowl alignment to play a Utah. Lets face it, what storied program like a Bama, Texas, Florida ST., Ohio State, Florida, or a USC is willing to go on the road and play Utah or Boise State for that matter in the regular season? Lets face it, no AD wants that on the schedule jor any coach. And to me that speaks volumes.

As much as the NCAA required minorities and woman be granted the same opportunities over the years, should not the NCAA be requiring these storied programs play other non-tradtional schools on their regular season schedule? Or has the fact that Boise State beating OK, Utah beating AL and App State beating Michigan at Michigan last season scared off just a test for these programs?

I am a firm believer that what matters most is what happens on the field or in real life what matters most is performance regardless of who it is or where they come from or what the look like or what school they come from or whose son or daughter they may be.

What does it say about the medias dismissal of small schools or small conferences? Is not the media simply continuing the cycle year after year of keeping a the same schools atop the polls? In fact, if you listen to the media they constantly hope for one of these schools to get beaten so they will NOT have to give the school the respect it may deserve.

Now that Utah has fullfilled its obligation and faced Alabama and defeated them easily, should not the media and the insiders who shape the bias in the first place be forced to take the medicine they deserve?

The medicine very well may be a playoff system in the future if enough people come to the realization that the current system in place is about rewarding "storied" programs with the financial windfalls of bowl games and not rewarding teams or schools for performance.

There is a reason why basketball has potential "cinderellas". Thats because eventually if you keep winning the tournament forces teams to have to play you in order to become National Champion. In football, they just sit back and decide themselves who it should be playing for the right to be Champion, and of course that descision is not open to debate either regardless of how many yell the system is flawed.

These are the messages we send our young people even in the smallest of ways. Its does not really matter if your successful on the field or in classroom if its not at the "right" school or from the right conference.

Bias gets is foundations in any number of ways, but it certainly begins in things we normally are proned to not take to serious.

Football is football of course, but it may just speak larger about our culture than we would like to admit. It may just be a reflection of ourselves in the end.

1 comment:

NatsFan said...

Sports like any other form of entertainment is merely a reflection of ourselves.
Is there bigotry or bias in the sports media; of course there is!! Do they play favorites? of course they do. Look at the coverage for a Notre Dame football team that is God aweful. They still get there TV games don't they? Could it be due to the Regis's of the world? The media just like in politics has become about creating stories, not reporting them. Barry Bonds is a great example or even Manny Ramierez where they tarnish in print thus driving down his ability to negotiate in the future with other teams. The media is currently doing the same thing to Gov. B in Illinois in that the man has to be innocent until proven guilty and yet they portray him already as the villain.
people ask whats wrong with America? I say its the new journalism for entertainment value and not substance.