Sunday, December 28, 2014

Five Myths

Normally I'm not a fan of The Washington Post's Five Myths weekly series. Usually the use of the word "myths" in a column title turns me off with its whiff of condescension. However, this week's offering is a gem, tackling some stories that meandered through 2014.

I've got to agree that the death of the NFL was greatly exaggerated. Yours truly is watching the Bengals-Steelers game as he pens this post. However, if the NFL were a stock, I wouldn't buy. I might sell it. I might hold it. But I wouldn't invest more of my time or money in the sport. The steady flow of players to the sports highest ranks seems to be slowing. The impact of the shrinking numbers of students whose parents will permit them to play football may take years to affect the NFL. In the meantime, the league will probably need to institute rules that will take the violence out of the game. Such changes will begin with prohibiting meaningful contact with the quarterback. Eventually it will turn toward implementing flag football rules in the sport, and those changes will eventually diminish fans' interest in the game.

I often don't agree with Eugene Robinson, the author of this particular segment of "Five Myths" yet I often gain a lot from reading what he has to say. Here he offers a useful perspective that we've moved on a great, great deal from the Jim Crow days. I can think of three reasons for concern, however, regarding race relations: 1) the disconcerting perception that the police community disproportionately targets young men of color, 2) the very real disappointment black Americans might feel about progress not being more impressive than it is by 2014, and 3) the naivete I see in my students about racial stereotypes (not always about blacks, but about other peoples of color). I work with great students and acknowledge that they are products of a world featuring faster-paced entertainment and mixed messages about racial identity. These wonderful young men and women might have very superficial ideas about the boundaries between acceptable and unacceptable. It worries me a little bit.

Dead on. Wages are stagnant. America is dealing with an unfortunate demographic trend that has us getting grayer and our population growth slowing. We're weathering these demographic changes better than our peers in the rich world, but ultimately our growth trend is slowing. 

I admit that I've lost track of developments in this corner of the world.

I'm looking forward to another year of news from the Washington Post. Far and away it's my favorite news source. 

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