The Los Angeles Times today had a front page story about the new NBA. Writer David Wharton esentially bid farewell to the days of "Magic Johnson's familiar smile" and "Michael Jordan's classic elegance", and pointed to the NBA as changing into a "thug league." The picture accompanying the story was of Allen Iverson sporting a trucker's hat, a bandage, and enough "ink" to bring to mind a horrible case of skin poisoning.
The article claims that "the new wave of players brought a defiant attitude," and cites a Newsday article by Shaun Powell which called the recent Pistons/Pacers fight "an extension of the hip-hop culture they embrace, which promotes and encourages anger, violence, selfishness, bling-bling, excess, the exploitation of women and show-boating." Whew!
Here's my two cents (here are my two cents?): there was a time (says this crotchety old man in training) when the arts -- music, painting, literature, and athletics -- glorified the human spirit. The Olympics were a showcase for the beauty of the human body, and professional sports leagues were looked to as examples of the finest in performance and sportsmanship. Now we have hockey fights, illegal doping, brawls between fans and players... Music was a way to transport ourselves, to glimpse something of a higher nature, to reflect the greatness of humanity and inspire us to more greatness; now we have music that reflects the underbelly of society and encourages emulation of said underbelly, music that demeans women, denigrates minorities, and dispenses hatred.
I'm not suggesting that in the good old days everything was sunshine and roses, and today we are left with naught but evil; but I mourn the arts as an inspriation to do good, to be better, and to rise above everyday life. I look forward to popular acclaim of music and athletes that encourage us to do more for ourselves and those around us, to strive for greatness and never settle, and to refuse to accept that the way things are is the ways things have to be.