IndigenousWell™

I’m typing this with my lesser hand because yesterday, I got my dominant shoulder scoped and the block hasn’t fully worn off. Ouchy. When they got in there to clean out a little calcium, a more detailed rotator cuff repair followed. The ghosts of many basketball games and tennis matches past came home to roost. Yep, my shooting arm. Bummer. But I’ll be back. “Nothin’s tougher than a Muskogee Rougher.” What’s a “Rougher, you say?” That’s my high school mascot (perhaps the subject of a future blog post) . . . but speaking of mascots:

Last week, I attended my first Super Bowl. For lack of a fancier word, it was so phenomenally COOL. But like so many times, spaces and places: IT. WAS. COMPLICATED. And at times, gross. At times, spectacular. It really can be both. And it was.

I’m a softy for “the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat.” Take any competition, add an injured player or two working through their pain, throw in a story about someone’s life course being altered beyond imagination due to opportunities in sports, and I can get weepy. Especially with the right music sprinkled in. Little League World Series? Absolutely. The preliminary rounds of any Olympic sport. Yep. A middle school basketball game, of course. And about 6 different times during this Super Bowl.

So I’m standing there (at the actual Super Bowl) taking it all in. A ridiculous place of privilege to witness such a pinnacle event. I am mesmerized with how big and fast and powerful these athletes really are in person. Amazing. Yes, genetics are at play, but second fiddle to how much of these player’s lives have been devoted to just cranking it out, day after day, year after year. This was their time to shine and I was full of joy and so happy for all them.

And the scenes all around me are just over-the-top. The money. The message that all of this sends as to societal priorities. And I’m a consumer of it, too. And as an economic development champion, I’m jazzed for what this moment means for my new home community of Phoenix, including my friends at Gila River who hosted one of the teams (no, not that one).

The entertainers were so talented and each one hit my musical tastes. Sheryl Lee Ralph’s voice was amazing and I do love a jumpsuit. Chris Stapleton rocked the national anthem and that giant flag across the field was stunning and what an awesome moment for the all-women team of pilots that flew over the stadium. For all the scars and contradictions that makeup America, I remain proud and energized to keep working to make this a more perfect union. In my day job, I get to see the best in our future lawyers and leaders and I look forward to watching them all thrive. I just wish they would have let Chris sing “Tennessee Whiskey” before he left the field.

Rihanna was an absolute queen as she was lifted up, up, up above that field. A survivor and a successful business woman and a mom. And oh the insurance carriers! The risk management side of me was ablaze. I love that she modeled that you can be at the top of your game personally and professionally, and also pregnant. A moment of empowerment, of blessings and miracles.

I was so much less glamorous as a pregnant person (or any kind of person for that matter). One of my pregnancy memories was me rolling up in my Property II class, teaching my heart out to 65 students in the Spring of 2008. Rock Chalk Jayhawk. I got kicked in the ribs from the inside AND my ankles were gigantic, AND I loved that class and the bright students in it. I didn’t feel overwhelmed. It was the exact opposite. I felt all powerful teaching that big 1L class, particularly in those last 4 months. Blast the Chaka Kahn. And the Jayhawks won the big dance that semester too. All kinds of fireworks.

I loved so many things about this Super Bowl Sunday. But you guessed it: oh boy, the actions of some of those Kansas City fans not, so much. That chant. Over and over and over. That tomahawk chop. And that chant. The arrows, feathers, that bastardized song. Several thousand people in unison. Gross.

To be clear I did NOT shed a tear over any of this foolishness. I saved that for the beautiful and glorious things all around me.

Disappointment is never about the actions of the people that disappoint you. It’s about a mismatch in your own expectations. My expectation was that it was not going to be THAT bad. But it was.

It’s rarely about fully informed intentionality. Sometimes it is, but rarely. It’s usually just the cluelessness or indifference of it all. At worse, it’s when someone substitutes their own judgment for those they allegedly seek to honor. The superiority of it all.

In the continuum of “bad mascots,” everyone says Kansas City is not as bad as Washington. True that, as to the headliner name itself. The reason all these names (all of them) need to go, is that it’s never just about the name itself. It’s the parade of gross that follows. And the infinite messages embodied therein. I played a very very small role when they changed the name at UND. I moderated and chaired the Taskforce when the junior highs in Fayetteville also changed course. It turned out fine. Both communities moved on, in a more respectful way. NFL, your turn. Be a leader.

Beyond changing the names, I have no answers, no midpoint. But it sure would be awesome to sit at another Super Bowl and just enjoy the company of my new friends (who were absolutely delightful and so much fun) and just soak it all in. And just be. Without the intellectual mosh pit. The rationalizations.

And oddly, as someone who spent most of my life in Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas, I’m really glad Kansas City won that game. And I cheered them on as they did so. Just not like that.

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