Sunday, January 24, 2010

Or Would You Rather Spit on a Star?

This one is out of date, sorry.

Before the third Eagles game, the story circulated of Eagle employee Dave Spedaro, the guy who runs their website, having recorded himself spitting (a couple of times) on the blue Cowboy star in the middle of the field at Cowboy Stadium. It was a major story in the Dallas market.

The Musers and the Hardline both criticized the media coverage, arguing, in effect, that no one should care whether an Eagle employee spit on the star, because it was only a symbol. Desecration of the American flag, they said, was different. I couldn't tell if they thought it was different because (1) the flag is a symbol of America and America is a lot more important than the Cowboys, or (2) the flag is more closely associated with America than that blue star is with the Cowboys (in other words, the blue star hadn't attained true "symbol" status). Had to be one of those.

Surely wasn't #2. The star is sitting in the middle of the field. It's large. We all noticed when it wasn't on the field when the stadium first opened. It is on the helmet. Spedaro thought it was meaningful to spit on it. Terrell Owens thought it was meaningful to preen on it before he was a Cowboy.

So the Musers'/Hardline's thought must have been that, even though it symbolized the Cowboys, it was no big deal that an adversary's representative expectorated on it.

Now, we may all acknowledge that fights having to do with symbols are less important than the play of the game itself, and that a spot or two of saliva on turf are less significant than an injurious personal foul on a player. But to scorn the coverage of a deliberate injury to an acknowledged symbol as dwelling on something insignificant strikes me as wrongheaded. If the Dallas Cowboys are important to people, then a gratuitous insult to its symbol by a significant enemy is also important to those people.

Thus, the Ticket hosts' position translates into an argument that in the grand scheme of things, the Cowboys aren't important enough for it to matter that Spedaro spit on the star. Really? These guys make their living talking about the Cowboys! Of course they matter to people. Yeah, football is a game, it's not life, it's not Haiti relief, it's not government-sponsored health care, but it is a gigantic part of the lives of lots and lots of people. And once you understand that, then the Cowboy star is "important" in the same way, and a Spedaro recording himself spitting on it is a worthy story. I'm not going to argue about degree, or media overkill – but it was a real story that mattered in the grand scheme of coverage of that playoff game, and the Musers and Hardline sounded a little out of touch in dismissing it.

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