Last night, I watched a rerun of the 2019 ESPY awards. As usual, there were some really inspirational stories: Jim Calhoun (married 53 years? What a fossil), Bill Russell winning the Arthur Ashe award for courage, Marine Sgt. Kirstie Ennis, who lost a leg to an IED, winning the Pat Tillman award for service, and the most inspirational of all, Rob Mendez, born with no arms or legs, winning the Jimmy V award for perseverance (imagine him becoming a football coach). Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, often thought of as unemotional, wiping tears away, at the stories of overcoming, and the words of Sgt. Ennis, “I am one of the lucky ones who came home. Broken, but I’m still here, and I still can. So I will continue every day for those who can’t. Let this be my message tonight. To the athletes in this room, to people in the military brotherhood and to everyone out there watching, rest a moment less, endure a fraction more and try to make peace with whatever your pain may be,” said Ennis to a standing ovation.
Mostly, the presenters were appropriate, like Russell Wilson and Ciara presenting to Rob Mendez, but one was not only inappropriate, so were his comments. Usher (?) presented the Pat Tillman Award for Service to Marine Corps veteran and amputee Kirstie Ennis. However, following an inspiring and empowering video about Ennis’ remarkable recovery after losing her leg in 2012 on her second Afghanistan deployment, and her many amazing triumphs and accomplishments since, Usher couldn’t seem to resist a gratuitous and tone deaf joke at the wrong time. “And if that wasn’t enough, you guys don’t know, she also, too, climbed in Joshua tree, naked,” Usher said to a quiet room. He added, “She deserves an award for that, alone. Tattoos, crazy,” before introducing Ennis and welcoming her to the stage. Viewers were not down with Usher’s comment, especially the women. One example: “Hey usher, probably don’t make weird sexual comment about the Marine Vet who lost her leg and just had a whole inspirational video about her. Just a thought.” Jared Goff and Patrick Mahomes represented their teams in accepting the award for best game, and Goff demonstrated the spirit of leadership by extolling the firefighters of Los Angeles who battled the huge fires, and having them stand, in their uniforms, to a standing ovation. He introduced them by saying, “You don’t want to hear about me, let me introduce you to the real heroes.”
My title does not refer to Usher, or to any of the awards, presenters or inspirational stories. I shed tears over Sgt. Ennis’ words and Rob Mendez giving the glory to Jesus Christ. No, what I ground my teeth over is someone I have written a couple of posts about, who is a great athlete, and like Sgt. Ennis, is female and wore a uniform representing our country, but that’s where the similarities end. She wasn’t getting an award, but the whole US Women’s National soccer team was called up on stage. A leader inspires, like Ennis and Mendez, a leader lifts others, like Goff did. I suppose you could say that Megan Rapinoe inspires, in a way. Elle Magazine featured a piece about her in which the writer was inspired to follow her example and become a “hot dyke”, in her words. Megan (no, I don’t know her but she has not earned respect in my book to refer to her as most would, Ms. Rapinoe) wore a uniform representing our country, while cursing the president and the White House, and saying she will never again say the pledge or sing the National anthem. She rode in the victory parade, telling the cameras, “I deserve this trophy.” What was her contribution to the ESPY show? “I’ve F-bombed every stage I’ve been on for weeks, so I’ll spare you this time.” Thank you for small favors, as I ground my teeth out of joint.
On a night of leadership and inspiration, with one embarrassing gaffe that evoked stone-faced reactions, she could have and should have kept her mouth shut. She was not a presenter or a nominee nor did she win award. She was not asked to speak, and the only other member of the team who spoke for the team did win an award (as best female athlete), Alex Morgan, who thanked people then shut up. Megan didn’t have to say anything, least of all remind the worldwide audience of possibly millions, of her dirty mouth and prideful attitude. I hope to never see her on any stage or field representing our country. Jesus said, and I paraphrase, “out of the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Now, it’s off to the dentist for me to fix my TMJ misalignment.