Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Cincinnati-Pittsburgh NFL "WildCard" Game as modern parable and warning

as modern parable and warning

The game played on 9 January is a milestone on the road to perdition in contemporary America.  It must be understood in the context of professional sports as a substitute and generally harmless channel for tribe and group energies.  For the most part, this has been a harmless means to express in-group/out-group solidarity.  This is explicitly so in that many gangs use professional sports logos and colors as indicia of membership and affiliation.  Here is a list of "top 10" sports-gang "pairings", for lack of a better term... no connection between the legal entities known as sports teams are suggested or implied, but it is a disturbing issue that needs to be understood.
Reaffirming In Group / Out Group solidarities

Not understanding these hidden meanings behind sports team paraphernalia like shirts, logos or color combinations can get the innocent and ignorant flat out killed.  Consider these and I would suggest ALL professional sports logo merchandise to be a form of very simple "IFF", (battlefield Identification, friend or foe) that is completely deniable. Consider its role in an easily imaginable scenario of an urban youth getting subjected to a "Terry Stop"  .. it might go something like this:  "really, officer friendly, I'm just an avid fan of Team X... I am not gang member... why are you hassling me?"

Here is the last quarter, to the end of game 9 January 2016 on Youtube:

Consider if you will the larger issue of gangs as tracked by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in their own report.  In examining the data, one will note what you see there and what you do NOT see in the data.  Use your analytical skills.  This alone should raise the hair on the back of your neck.  Consider then how this set of facts, as troubling as they may be, can be expressed when the mask of American civil society and relative peace slips, even a fraction.

Wide Receiver DeSean Jackson was released by NFL Team Philadelphia Eagles over concerns he had gang affiliations with groups in Los Angeles
 Back to the game... Americans need to understand that the teams are not just "teams". They are stand-ins, analogs if you will, for tribe.  One might ask "what tribe could each of these teams or cities POSSIBLY represent?  They are just teams, and this is just a game".  I would suggest that one may wish to consider an alternative hypothesis, particularly when the present paradigm if improperly considered carries mortal risk.  Cincinnati is a dramatically diverse, vibrant city.  The U.S. census confirms that as of 2010, the city was was about 48% black/African American.  In contrast, Pittsburgh in the same census was about 26% black/African American.

If the above information does not start converging for you and gelling, I am not sure what else can be said.  It does not matter if you are from one town or the other, the violence that this game indicates just under the surface is potentially staggering for people in every demographic, every "snack bracket".  If Baltimore was any indication, an eruption of violence in Cincinnati would have much more dire effects than the same in Pittsburgh.  Read through this FOX story to see the trend.  Here are Baltimore's demographics, in case you needed them.  63% or so black/African-American.

Rioting and Looting in Baltimore, MD April 2015
If we examine the 3 cities' teams... Baltimore has the Ravens, which is not too subtle.  Pittsburgh has the Steelers and Cincinnati has the Bengals.  A note about mascots and team colors is in order.  The Steelers wear Yellow/Black uniforms.  The Bengals wear Orange/Black.  The Steelers' mascot is  "Steely McBeam", a jutting chinned steelworker.  The Bengals' mascot is "Who Dey", a large Bengal tiger.  While the use of colors is well established in gangs, I am not so sure that any direct comparisons can be drawn regarding colors of particular teams and gang organizations.  Both Steelers Jersey's horizontal bars and the orange of the Bengals have a semiotic link to prison.  Accident, or by intent?

Color may be more of a convenient, regionally identifiable issue than anything actually staffed out and focus grouped.  The issue of the mascots is also muddled, but "Who Dey" is further away from standard American English than "Steely McBeam".  Is the Orange/Black uniform of the Bengals a tribute to prison garb orange and the rate of incarceration for black men?  It is hazardous to speculate on the cause of seemingly disproportionate incarceration for the sub population of black males, who made up 38% of the prison population in 2011, I'll leave that for the social workers, victims and police who have to bat clean up on this topic.  I might add that there are no winners, just varied degrees of heartbreaking loss.

The potential for a cascade of violence as the weather warms up this spring is alarming, it will rise in lockstep with the most heated, freighted election cycle in our lifetimes.  Understand that America has become a nation of covert tribes and tribal signalling, sometimes with sports jerseys, sometimes with logos, sometimes with RealTree camo.  As they say, "know before you go".  The life that you save, in the suburbs or in the urban core may be your own, it may be that of a loved one.  While it is good for the soul and conscience to pray that peace breaks out over the land, you just may want to hedge those bets. Everything is now symbolic and political.

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