Our fixation on death comes with a heavy price tag. It’s costing us our life. For young people, it’s costing them their future.
“I Can’t Breathe” is morphing into “They Can’t Live.”
The California Interscholastic Federation announced on Monday it will delay its high school fall sports season until January. Other states will surely follow the lead of The Golden State. On the surface, given the alleged surging Coronavirus positive tests, the decision is appropriate and responsible.
But is it?
The consequence of pervasive secular values is the prioritization of death over life. As a nation, we’ve seemingly decided the avoidance of death is more important than the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.
For people who do not believe in the afterlife, fear of death wields total control over decision-making. America’s founders, flawed as they were, believed they answered to a Higher Power and in the concept of heaven and hell. They prioritized life over death because their religious faith softened the consequence of death on this earth.
Collectively we no longer believe that. We have a death obsession. There is no freedom we will not sacrifice in pursuit of avoiding death. A nation that fought a revolutionary war over taxation without representation and an even bloodier civil war over the abolishment of slavery has spent four months afraid to breathe and cowering at home fearful of a virus with a 99 percent recovery rate.
That is not written to suggest we take a cavalier approach to COVID-19. It’s written to make us question our obsession with death.
For nearly two months, we have put more time, energy and focus on the expired lives of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks than we have the future of our youth. Risking your health protesting and advocating for George Floyd places you on the right side of a history that will be written by the self-appointed.
The expansion of American freedom, from the Civil War to Civil Rights, had traditionally been won by the men and women concerned with being on the right side of God.
We now wet our fingers, hold them in the air and move at the whim of social media trends. We serve death, not life. We value the old more than the young, the people nearest death over the ones just starting their journey. We used to sacrifice our lives to leave the next generation a better world. We’ve lost that resolve.
Fear-based decision-making is destroying the future of our youth. We can’t keep kids locked in homes, socially distanced indefinitely. The delay and potential cancellation of fall sports will have a devastating impact on young people.
The year 2020 is a nationwide Hurricane Katrina, and the poor will once again pay a disproportionate price for the politically-driven decisions of elites.
In 1984, at age 17, I lived with my dad in a 400-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment on the eastside of Indianapolis. We were poor. Delinquent taxes forced the closure of my dad’s tavern, Jimmy’s J-Bar-J. My dad earned $300 a week plus tips working as a bartender for a friend.
I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like now had a global health crisis wiped out my senior year of high school, had I been trapped inside that tiny apartment for months with my dad.
I don’t mean to diminish the life of George Floyd or the handful of other victims of criminal police misconduct, but what kind of sick, narcissistic country hyper-focuses on justice for a dead man when the lives of millions of kids are being destroyed?
Over the weekend, I chatted with a couple of high school football coaches in my hometown, Warren Central’s Jayson West and Ben Davis’ Jason Simmons. I played at Warren Central. We won the Big School state championship in 1984, and I earned a football scholarship to Ball State University. The scholarship changed my life.
Warren Central is a nationally-ranked powerhouse. We routinely send a dozen or so players a year off to play college football at some level. The same is true for Ben Davis. Both programs are filled with poor black kids from single-parent homes. The schools provide free breakfast and lunch to all of their students.
Canceling and/or delaying school and sports means a bit more to kids attending Warren Central and Ben Davis.
“I’m worried about video-game dependency,” West told me. “That’s their platform. That’s their way of socially engaging. They’re not engaging, they’re not moving around. Our kids don’t have gym memberships or gyms in their homes or garages.”
Indianapolis schools shut down in March like the rest of the country. Two weeks ago, the Indiana High School Athletic Association approved the resumption of organized workouts. There has been no concrete decision on when fall sports will start.
“It’s been great getting back with our kids,” Simmons said. “We’ve had kids literally working out at home lifting vacuum cleaners and buckets of water. But for our kids, it’s bigger than football. If we don’t reopen the schools, the education gap is only going to grow. The kids with both parents and money will survive this. Our kids have to have this opportunity.”
The unintended consequence of fear is death, the death of opportunity.
We’re killing the future of kids with our cultural obsession with death. Violently, irrationally and emotionally avenging the deaths of George Floyd and a few other ex-felons who died arguing with or resisting police will have long-lasting repercussions.
Numerous college and high school coaches have told me that the top priority in recruiting is the family background of a prospect. “Fit” is a buzzword for “nuclear family.”
Coaches have long feared athletes who are difficult to control. Social media and the haphazard racial justice sought via social media have exacerbated that fear. Kids from single-parent homes require more oversight. They’re less likely to easily conform.
The can’t-miss, 4- and 5-star prospects will be fine. But the opportunities for the marginal recruit from a tough background are shrinking rapidly. We don’t “fit” the profile.
I wouldn’t recruit Jason Whitlock in this era. If I had a Twitter feed at age 20, all of my coaches would’ve been fired.
Colin Kaepernick and all of his disciples have elevated their brands and the reputations of dead heroes George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Rayshard Brooks.
When are we going to resume our fight for the living? To do that, we must first conquer our fear of death and abandon our intense focus on the dead.
They can’t live if we don’t allow them to breathe… life.
If you want Jason Whitlock to appear on your radio show or podcast, contact Gary@outkick.com.