Monday, February 06, 2006

When Recognition Really Counts

Apparently, a number of people are upset that neither the Super Bowl pre-game or halftime shows included a salute to our men and women in arms. That is rather odd given how military-friendly the NFL usually is. But I don’t think anyone needs to be upset.

While it’s nice to honor our troops in mass gatherings like the Super Bowl, it is no substitute for the small acts of honor we do through our families and communities. The care packages, the letters, the prayers, the tears—all of that is much more vital than a few moments of recognition squeezed in between beer runs and cheerleader routines.

These mass gatherings for sporting events may seem like the perfect occasions to pay tribute to heroes (as the Super Bowl did with Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King) or remember tragedy (as the Super Bowl did with recognition of Hurricane Katrina). But sporting events are just sporting events and their consequence is minor. They are glorious diversions, but diversions nonetheless.

Whether recognition is paid or not paid at these events is ultimately inconsequential. What matters is whether recognition is paid in ways that are not merely symbolic. What do we do in our daily lives to honor the troops or ease the suffering of the Gulf Coast or keep the spirit of Parks and King alive? That's what I think really counts--not what happens at a sporting event, but what's happening the rest of the time.

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