Monday, February 02, 2009

Another Day

So I watched the Superbowl last night. The game was engaging enough, but I was tired and didn't have a real stake in the outcome. I am a big fan of Mike Tomlin, though, the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The announcers made a lot out of the fact that Tomlin, age 36, was the youngest person to both coach, and now win, a Superbowl. I didn't realize the significance of that fact until this morning.

Just two years ago, with media darling and All-American boy Peyton Manning on the verge of his first Superbowl title, the only story covered by the news media was the match-up of head coaches. Either Tony Dungy of Indianapolis or Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears would be the first African-American head coach to win the game. Six days later, an upstart young Senator announced his candidacy for President of the United States.

All of these thoughts converged as I showered and started my day this morning. Not once did either of the announcers mention that Mike Tomlin was black. In the span of two years the color of an NFL coach's skin no longer mattered. It was old news.

This was an interesting fact until later this afternoon when our Barack Obama Inaugural Special Commemorative Issue of Newsweek magazine landed in the mailbox. As I was thumbing through the essays connecting the 44th President to seemingly every person who has ever lived, I was again taken aback by the emotion of his election. I relived the feelings of awe and inspiration that I had experienced on election night and the inauguration just two weeks previous.

However, as wonderful and important as these emotions are, they've already become stale and slightly disingenuous. Just last week the President's first major bill was approved on a straight party line vote in the House of Representatives and the same bill looks to be equally challenged in the Senate. We're back to business as usual in Washington.

Just as Mike Tomlin's skin had become meaningless, so had the monumental achievement of electing a black man President of the United States. I'm not sure that's a bad thing; in fact it has moved me in similar, if less emotional, ways to the election itself. I've never been accused of being the most patriotic person, but one thing that is truly great about the United States is our ability to move on.

At times we complain about the national attention deficit disorder that drives us from one crazed celebrity to the next. But this same "problem" allows us to reach the long-awaited top of a difficult hill and immediately look towards the next challenge. We have a lot of issues in this country and even our racial difficulties will not miraculously disappear, but one small part of those challenges is over.

On January 20th, 2009 we inaugurated a new President and he was a black man. It may have been the most revolutionary piece of political news in centuries.

On January 21st, it was no big deal.


Montague said...


I don't follow football, and didn't know who Mike Tomlin was prior to reading this post. When you wrote that he was the youngest coach I have to say that I imagined him white...probably for two reasons. 1) I imagined him looking like Chris Tomlin. 2) Normally if someone isn't's pointed out as a needed defining description. I was choosing my pizza and paused after the second sentence in your third paragraph.

Yeah this really is good news.

Montague said...

umm... chewing pizza, not choosing pizza.