Black or white? Right or Wrong? How about good or bad? I’ve been somewhat cognizant for more than 3 decades and over that time have realized few things fall completely under the aforementioned categories. Sure, things relating to the treatment of other living things are often easily labeled right or wrong, good or bad, or even black or white regarding the specifics of a case, but in addition to those often easily labeled things, there are exceptions which offer grey areas worthy of contemplation rather than the damnation which frequently occurs.
Over the past week, “we’ve” lost a coach, many lost an idol, and a college superstar; his ego over a woman who didn’t even exist. Teams have won, others have lost, and legends of sport have both ended their careers abruptly, while others cling to theirs by the most fragile of threads. In every case, most outsiders instinctively feel a need to love or hate, cheer or boo, or pray for or against the entities involved. There’s no feeling-out process in sports, just push your chips to the middle of the table and scream from the roof-tops.
That’s right, I just pushed my chips to the middle regarding this very topic. In most cases things are not so clearly cut, and due to such shouldn’t be simplified by just that. Lance Armstrong’s admittance of doping, lying, and manipulation of the facts does not make him Mephistopheles. Certainly, he is a shell of the man many thought him to be and isn’t likely to be heading a mentoring program anytime in the near future, but like most flawed individuals he has done and will do admirable things in the future. He doesn’t have to be “all that” or “none of the above,” he can be some of both and judged as such.
Ray Lewis is a game away from the end of an illustrious career on the field. No one can argue his Hall of Fame credentials between the lines, but in the wake of people’s farewell adoration, some find it necessary to push-back with villainous accusations surrounding a murder that did happen, and happened on his watch. I’m fine with recognizing both, but one or the other doesn’t make him merely one or the other.
Manti Te’o doesn’t have to be a liar, a dope, incapable of picking-up women, naive, or a good or bad football player; can’t he be a bit of it all?
Did Chip Kelly go from a great coach with iconic status at a school unfamiliar with his type of success prior to his arrival, to a turncoat and cretin by merely accepting a promotion which left “you” behind?
All are onions with complicated layers not easily explained, but so many simplify them with labels that do just that. A year ago Lance Armstrong was a god, but now he’s the devil. If you’re a Ray Lewis guy then you’ll celebrate his career, but if you’re not you’ll disavow his good deeds and shine his “lows” in a prominent light. Manti Te’o…you’re simply either on one side or the other of the Notre Dame fence. And Chip Kelly; what have you done for me lately?
It’s low-brow to look at things through the eyes of emotion, yet so many people do and because of such create expectation “man” cannot meet. When someone is lauded, others instinctively look for flaws. People want perfection, but on the other hand spend a lifetime trying to prove it doesn’t exist…and it doesn’t! It’s okay to celebrate the good of an individual who isn’t entirely first-class. It’s okay to acknowledge a shortcoming of someone who’s set a high bar. And by all means remember that good people occasionally do bad things; they’re called mistakes.
Black or white? At times, but more often than not the truth lies somewhere in-between…maybe those are my fifty shades of grey.