Cancel culture has brought us an unending cavalcade of embarrassing apologies and groveling, over-the-top prostrations from celebrities, politicians, business leaders, and academics who have accidentally stepped afoul of our New Rules of Public Conduct. Every other day, it seems, we’re forced to watch some schmuck get down on his metaphorical (or not) hands and knees and beg the woke mob for forgiveness because they said something horrible like trans women aren’t really women, or that maybe it’s not a good thing to burn down the businesses in your own neighborhood.
But this week, we may have hit a new low.
In an essay for “Inside Higher Ed,” Ohio State University Professor Matthew Mayhew championed the unity and fun of college football, saying that the game is exactly what America needs at a time of division and political strife.
“Essentializing college football might help get us through these uncharacteristically difficult times of great isolation, division, and uncertainty. Indeed, college football holds a special bipartisan place in the American heart,” Mayhew wrote. “At a time when colleges and universities have been placed under extreme scrutiny, many people are questioning the very value and purpose of higher education. College football reminds many Americans of the community values that underscore higher education and by extension America itself.”
The essay wasn’t much to speak of. It’s not exactly controversial to say, Oh the pandemic is horrible and all of this racial division is horrible…can’t we all just watch some football and get along!? It wasn’t going to win any Pulitzers at the end of the year, but it was inoffensive and fine.
Oh, sorry. We meant it was racist and loathsome.
At least, that’s what we’re to understand now, in light of Mayhew’s new essay, in which he throws himself upon the mercy of the mob.
“I have learned that I placed the onus of responsibility for democratic healing on Black communities whose very lives are in danger every single day and that this notion of ‘democratic healing’ is especially problematic since the Black community can’t benefit from ideals they can’t access,” he wrote in the apology essay. “I have learned that words like ‘distraction’ and ‘cheer’ erase the present painful moments within the nation and especially the Black community.
“I am sorry for the hurt, sadness, frustration, fatigue, exhaustion, and pain this article has caused anyone, but specifically Black students in the higher education community and beyond,” he continued. “I am struggling to find the words to communicate the deep ache for the damage I have done.”
Oh boy. First of all, it now causes “damage” to the black community to even suggest that we spend one second of our lives thinking about something other than race? Second, is Mayhew kidding with the “deep ache” business? This is so over-the-top it almost comes across as satire.
Mayhew continued, saying that he now realizes the evils of college football, which “positions student athletes as white property.”
“I am designing a plan for change, for turning the ‘I am sorry’ to ‘I will change’—for moving Black Lives Matter from a motto to a pathway from ignorance and toward authentic advocacy,” Mayhew wrote.
“To do this,” he continued, “a colleague of mine asked me to center the question: What can I do to unlearn patterns that hurt and harm Black communities and other communities of color? My center is as a learner, so movement for me will involve unlearning and relearning by listening, reading, dialoguing, reflecting, and writing as a means for increasing my awareness and knowledge about systemic racism and the experiences of people of color and people who hold marginalized identities different from my own.”
Maybe just take the easier path, which is to find the nearest bleak desert, start walking in the direction of the sun, and…well, just see what happens!