Hey Internet, Quit Bitching About How Sports Figures Commemorate 9/11, Ok?

  • Jake O'Donnell

Yesterday, J.R. Smith instagramed a picture of some 9/11 commemorative structure, with the caption: “Celebrate the deaths of the people in 9/11! #WELOVEYOU #WEWILLNEVERFORGET.”

Ya, wordsmith he is not. Definitely poor wording, but you get the point. Apparently, the internet didn’t. Neither did Keith Olbermann, who went after the Lakers for superimposing a picture of Kobe Bryant on a well-intentioned “Never Forget” tweet. Guys, come on. You’re missing the spirit of the whole day when you bitch because oh-oh-oh-I-found-a-boo-boo! Relax. (Remember how stupid MLB looked when they told the Mets they couldn’t wear the first responders hats? Ya, that’s you right now, internet/Keith Olbermann/media.)

Read between the lines for two seconds, and reserve judgment before you go screaming “fuck you, you disrespectful bastard.”

Really, though, if there’s one day we’ve all got to drop the social media finger pointing act, it was yesterday. It’s ironic, because if you really think about how we’ve changed the most in the 12 years since September 11th, 2001, we’ve actually become way more vocal with our anger over things we don’t agree with (thanks almost entirely to the internet). Back then, the internet was, like, four freakin’ sites, and we communicated through isolated one-on-one AOL Instant Messenger chats and topic specific chat rooms. Now, via Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and the inexplicable phenomenon that is the message board (which has been empowered by the previous three), we just scream out our often impulsive opinions into the void, thinking they’re revealing some truth about what we’re pissed at, without first putting it into any sort of perspective. On one hand, this type of expression is cathartic, informative, and encourages people to participate in our society who would otherwise not involve themselves in sometimes important discussions. Case and point: The Tumbledown Trails 9/11 golf course promotion. It was a promotion, and it made light of a solemn national day of remembrance by turning it into a hokey blue light special. Shame on them.

On the other hand, though, the internet often shoots people down for trying to do the right thing, by focusing on some unintentionally ignorant aspect of how or what they say or do. The shit-storm over the Lakers’ Twitter blunder and J.R. Smith’s Instagram caption are perfect examples of this. When athletes misspeak, or sports franchises don’t behave as tactfully or as socially conscious as NGOs, everybody just needs to chill out, and put it in perspective first. They’re part of an industry predicated on games. Instead, recognize and honor the spirit of what they’re trying to say, and keep in mind where it’s coming from. Be reasonable. Don’t just use some poorly conceived statement from a sports figure/organization as an excuse to get pissed. That’s not what we should have learned from September 11th. The takeaway was that getting upset and lashing out at things you don’t necessarily agree with is flawed logic.

It’s like the flag on the lapel thing. Just put it in perspective: It’s a pin.

Likewise, if you think the Lakers or J.R. Smith (despite all his glaring flaws), don’t understand the scope of what yesterday stood for — you probably don’t. For one day a year, internet, you need to just let the nit-picking bullshit slide, ok?