The Clemson debacle—A word from Robert Ellis
Editor’s note: One of the things I’ve been wanting to do #onhere is to, when one of you brilliant people who is not otherwise on the writing roster composes an amazing comment, to create a new thread highlighting it. Today (tonight? Damned East Coasters), our own Dr. Robert Ellis arrived at the crux of why Traitor Donald Trump’s buying the national champion Clemson football team fast food to celebrate their achievement was so insulting. Hint: It wasn’t the food.
Setting aside the Mickey D's/Wendy's/Burger King animosity (I've eaten—to varying satisfaction—at all of those at some time in life. You may now commence hurling produce), I think one issue on display with this Clemson thing is how little thought went into it. Clemson players and staff can eat at those places when they want. They can patronize those American institutions when they want. They can support those franchises when they want. They can enjoy—or not—those opportunities when they want.
Those lads just won a national championship in a sport that takes a brutal toll on the human body, and some of them have hopes to advance to the next level under a statistical probability that is vanishingly small. I mean, the term "fantasy football" isn't wrong, as actually getting to play at the professional level might as well be flight of fancy. Most who played in college won't ever play at the professional level. Most who play at the professional level do so for an average of two years.
Moreover, those who have played for two-to-four years at an academic institution have done so under grueling conditions without compensation, and sometimes at risk of their education, which is held in turnabout over their heads Damocles-style for eligibility to play.
And so, to the White House to dine for their achievement.
But no thought went into the event. No effort. No care. Not only are staff furloughed, but the opportunity to provide a good, hearty, filling meal prepared by professionals under the auspice of doing something that reflects their own pride in achievement was allowed to sail by like polystyrene floating in dirty harbor water.
I'm not a great cook, but I daresay there's not a one of us who knows how it feels to eat something over which someone took time and attention and care. Meals like that don't just taste good because of the quality of the food. They taste good because they mean something. They mean that someone worked hard on the food, like you worked hard on your football season, a season that for many will be the last they ever play under any circumstances.
The way this meal was handled was not a celebration of achievement. It was a dismissal of the lives of young people who worked hard. They could have done much better to have gone home and shared good conversation with family and friends in shared communion over broken bread that someone had cared to think about. But any such effort by [redacted] would necessitate spotlighting someone other than himself, an act which he cannot endure.
The tragedy isn't McDonald's and Wendy's and Burger King for dinner. The tragedy is, at the end of the day, he doesn't even know who any of these people are. Not from a standpoint of fandom (I'm not an American football fan), but from a standpoint as human beings. He looks around that room and sees, as he has seen all his life, a room that is empty; desperate to conjure some image of life, he insists that everything become a mirror, lest he remember he is ultimately alone.
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