A lot can be, has been, and will be said about the Kardashians. The first family of reality TV, they have built an empire predicated on entertainment (if you’re into that sort of entertainment); they have forced their way into not only the national conscience, but an international one as well. Previously, I had found the whole lot of the Kardashian Clan pretty shallow. They were not the type of people doing the type of things that really intrigued me.
Recently, the Kardashian/Jenner clique has ascended to new heights. Kanye has taken Kim to another planet when it comes to relevance in a merit based field as well as increasing her levels of sex symbol goddess (SWISH). The Jenner girls are seamlessly in the headlines for buying a new home before being able to vote or inciting a lip revolution amongst minors. They were even the “stars” of Balmain’s Fall line. However, the most powerful statement by a member of the Kardashian/Jenner clique came from Bruce, now Caitlyn Jenner. She announced to the world he would be transitioning from a he to a she. She was true to herself in a way that is beyond commendable. For many of us we will never have to display the courage that she displayed in announcing to the world.
It’s July 2015, we have watches that can be used as phones, we can video call almost whomever we want, whenever we want. The entire world is basically at the tips of fingers. We can get live streams from cities worlds away thanks to Snapchat. A lot and I mean A LOT has changed since my parents were my age and rightfully so we are supposed to evolve as a species. However, 2016 is a pretty wild world. Every event, every tweet, every statement is accessible to basically any one of the 7+ billion people on Earth. If you’re anyone who has ever tweeted or made a social media post you have more than likely been taken out of context. If you are someone who is in the public eye, chances are your social media post has been blown out of proportion by the media or a member of it.
24 hours a day, 365 days a year the news is on in some way, form, or fashion. Amongst these nonstop media services is ESPN, “The World Wide Leader in Sports,” and their family of stations. To be honest with you, if ESPN did not broadcast my favorite college athletic program, (The University of Michigan) I would probably not watch the channel. ESPN has a very special talent; the network and its employees can get under my skin in a way only Complex Media can rival. It is one of those rare situations where you almost aren’t mad because of how they have managed to become to the object of your resentment (Think Ron Burgundy when his dog Baxter eats an ENTIRE cheese wheel in Anchorman). Keyword there was almost, I hate them I’m not going to beat around the bush. They give airtime to the most asinine people. These asinine people say some of the most outlandish, false and inappropriate statements on TV (Excluding Fox News because they are in a league of their own). I’m referring to Stephen A. Smith saying that women “provoke” domestic violence while discussing the Ray Rice situation. I could pick any number of quotes from Skip Bayless or Colin Cowherd and their apparent lack of knowledge when it comes to actually being an athlete. The scope of the ignorance ranges from beyond the world of sports and into the real world.
I am not the only one who is not a fan of ESPN either. Books like Those Guys Have All the Fun orESPN The Uncensored History get into detail about the going ons of the Bristol based sports mega network. This company is FAR from perfect just like many other companies and brands. Personally, if I was an athlete I would despise them too; in a fashion not too dissimilar from Marshawn Lynch. We do not need to know if Jadeveon Clowney or Marcus Mariota got a speeding ticket on the way too or from practice, Who cares if Landon Donavon is still upset that he did not make the US Mens National team over a year ago, and finally, WHO REALLY CARES ABOUT BASEBALL???…As annoying as those stories maybe, ESPN employee Adam Scheffer and his brand of journalism may have taken things to a new level. Lately his actions have been up for debate due to the methods he used to acquire information regarding the amputation of professional football player Jason Pierre Paul’s finger following a fireworks accident on the Fourth of July. Due to the circumstances and situation regarding the athletes injury, he was guaranteed medical privacy also known as HIPAA. For those of you who don’t know, here’s what the gist of it is: as a patient you have certain rights regarding your privacy and medical information. However, Adam Scheffer clearly did not respect that privacy. He cannot be charged with breaking the policy but damn ESPN, this man just lost a finger in what was probably an incredibly painful and traumatic event. ESPN thought in their infinite wisdom to announce this man’s personal medical information to hundreds of millions of people.
Despite all of this, this mountain of bullshit I have piled against the network and the personal reservations I have about the network, they did something right, something that has gained my respect. They gave Caitlyn Jenner the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. It may have been almost forty years ago and she may have been Bruce then, but Caitlyn Jenner was a Gold Medal winning Olympian for the United States of America. ESPN took it upon themselves to honor the immense bravery that she displayed in her transition and announcement.
They could have given the award to any number of athletes more relevant in the world of sports, but ESPN saw the bigger picture. There is more to life than sports. Often times sports is our outlet from the problems of the world. When the World Cup or the Olympics are going on we take pause from foreign policy and enjoy dunking on the universe. Sometimes the wide world of sports is the perfect place to take a stand and make a statement. Recently, athletes have taken their relevance to make statements and take stands against injustices. One of the first instances of this that comes to mind is the NFL and wearing pink for the month of October to support breast cancer research. I remember the stand that LeBron James and the Miami Heat took following the murder of Trayvon Martin. Even this past year, members of the NFL’s St. Louis Rams gave the “Hands Up Don’t Shoot,” gesture to show solidarity to the people of Ferguson for the killing of Michael Brown by a white police officer.
The reason I bring this is up, is for the following: If you think that ESPN should not have awarded Caitlyn Jenner the award, then do not support the NFL’s Breast Cancer awareness program, do not write bible verses on your shoes/tape/eye black. Do not bring things outside of the sports world into it. Do not be a hypocrite. ESPN did the right thing, respect their decision and respect Caitlyn. They gave her a perfect medium to communicate the right things to members of the LGB and especially T community who are struggling with their sexuality. It was a proud moment for Caitlyn I could imagine just as was for me and just as I hope it was for you. ESPN has remained colorblind when it comes to reporting things of this nature in the world of sports. They gave Michael Sam and Jason Collins their shine. They gave Tim Tebow and his religious beliefs just as much air time, if not more.
It’s 2015, a transgender woman was recognized for her athletic achievements but more importantly her courage. She won one of the most recognizable awards in the wide world of sports. She is one of the most widely recognized people in the America. She is an incredibly important figure regardless of how you feel about the Kardashian Clan. She is now a symbol of hope for all of those young people struggling with their sexuality and for that we salute you Caitlyn Jenner. We also salute you Michael Sam and you as well Jason Collins. You are all trailblazing for the LGBT community. We thank you for that.
It is 2016, if you have a hateful thing to say about a member of the LGBT community, say it. It is your right to, but just know that you are of a dying minority. The LGBT community is not a separate, untouchable community. We are all apart of one global community. Black, white, brown, yellow, gay, straight or transgender. We are all people and deserve the upmost respect from one another. Hopefully their will be a time in my lifetime where we will not have to salute someone like this.