When They Marched

Weekend marches transcend football
all photos by the associated press

Ashley Judd. Damn.

I’ve been crazy about Kentucky girls all my life, so I guess you can say I’m biased, but even if Judd were from the moon I would say…

Ashley Judd. Damn.

Judd took the stage during the Women’s March on Washington and delivered a speech/poem/rant for the history books. It was heated, it was in your face and it was not to be forgotten. It was a scarred beauty reborn in magnificence.

In perfect rhythm with the day, it was also a rendition delivered by the 48-year-old actor, of a poem written by a 19-year-old Dunkin’ Donuts worker named Nina Donovan, delivered to hundreds of thousands of women standing in the nation’s capital and broadcast throughout the world to millions more. All for one. One for all.

Fight.

According to fivethirtyeight.com, there were a half-million protesters in Washington, DC. New York and L.A. were both north of 400,000. Add up Chicago, Boston, Seattle and St. Paul — that’s a half-million more Americans with boots on the ground. In our humble neck of the woods, police estimated 12,500 attended the march in New Orleans. At the end of the day, in aggregate, an astounding 3.2 million marchers made their voices heard.

Numbers so significant that the White House was compelled to send out Press Secretary Sean Spicer — in his first meeting with the press — to bemoan the media incorrectly reporting the attendance numbers of the much smaller inauguration. A meeting that went over like a lead balloon and had news entities tripping over themselves to be the first to shred Spicer’s — as White House senior advisor Kellyanne Conway said — “alternative facts.”

Then it was Sunday and there were two football games played. Oh yeah. Right.

That’s just the kind of weekend it was. My friends and I sat there looking at the TV, beers in hand, snacking on the usual football munchies, but — it was different.

We watched the football games — which admittedly were both duds in their own right — but we talked about the marches. Even as the dirty birds of Atlanta were disassembling the Packers season, no smack talk spewed forth. Our minds were on the previous days events and rarely did they engage in that primal way when seeing jersey-clad men smash into one another. The TV carnage was an afterthought, transmuted into a play of dancing colors. The red and black colors swarming yellow and green. The blue and red streaking past the black and yellow. It was as if we were watching one continuous six-hour commercial waiting to get back to the real topic — the protest marches.

My buddy Jason attended both of the weekend’s local marches in New Orleans. Friday’s march was an anti-Trump march and one that was well-attended and respectful of the city. Unfortunately, a group that was in attendance vandalized buildings and vehicles and assaulted police officers. It was the classic example of a handful of people destroying a message created by many. However hard it may be, the violence and vandalism needs to end.

If you’re on the street, get your message out there but if marches are going to be the new sport in 2017 and beyond, the marchers themselves need to protect the message they are sending. I get that it is a tall task but if you see vandalism or an assault and don’t do anything about it then that is the message you are sending to the world. Don’t be afraid to do what is right. That’s why you’re on the streets in the first place, no? Letting someone co-opt the greater good of the protest is no different than a Press Secretary lying to the press corp. Don’t be part of the problem.

Enough with the always-reliable “they were from out of town” excuse. Isn’t it weird how every protester who breaks the law is always from a different city? It’s not unlike how a holier-than-thou New Orleanian thinks every hipster moved here in the last five years. As if it’s unfathomable for someone who grew up here to dig on craft cocktails, farm-to-table dinners and all of the other stuff that those guys with funny mustaches enjoy.

But, now I’m just getting fired up. See? It was that kind of weekend. A weekend where not one but two championship games were put on the back burner. It made me happy. To be honest, it should make the hardcore sports fan happy too.

Look, every march is built on two of the guiding principles of sport — leadership and teamwork. All of those women, and the men that were there as well, displayed amazing leadership. It just wasn’t the people on the stage, there were many women volunteering time for the betterment of the cause. It takes no small amount of work and sweat and sisterhood to pull off an event where 500,000 of your friends show up.  All of this flows directly into teamwork. Get ‘em in, get ‘em to the stage, get ‘em marching, keep ‘em safe. All of this is — without one arrest nationwide — indicative of strangers working hand in hand, pink hat by pink hat.

***

Late into the New England game, we eventually got around to debating the impact of the weekend’s marches. It seems that a lot of folks have missed an obvious point. Of course, some are just shackled by lock step thinking like most of humanity — an “us versus them” mentality that has been created by the nation’s two-party political system and, well, sports. These folks are the ones wrapped up in thinking the Women’s March was solely in response to a lost election, as if, a bigger message was out of the question. Whatever.

They can debate the effect all they want but its impact is undeniable.

I was a young punk on April 22, 1990 when a major worldwide Earth Day celebration took place. It had all of the same beats — rallies, marches, celebrities, music. I could care less…but I watched and listened and learned.

And on April 23, 1990 I was still a punk. But I was a punk who thought about recycling and read about the impact of different items on our landfills. Have I recycled every day since then? Of course not. Have I thought about recycling and it’s impact on us? Without a doubt.

That’s how the reverberations of the Women’s March will always ring true. While it is about all of us, it is also a day for the younger kids around us. A day they may remember for all of their lives.

A message learned, a message kept in their heart in a game which is much bigger than sport, more powerful, more meaningful. To which I ask you…

Isn’t that beautiful?

 

 

Categories: Full Sport Press, Sports