I’m pretty aware that nothing I say on this blog will likely change the world. I only try and comment on the world I see through my eyes. Some might agree – some might not. But I feel what I do here is for a greater good, to serve as a document as to what’s going on in my time.
The events in Jacksonville that took place this past Sunday (captured live on an Internet video stream) hit me in many ways. I’ve been playing the John Madden video games back to when you need a PC to play them. One day in 1990 I went to Radio Shack and bought one of the first computer versions of the game. I didn’t have a PC back then, but my workplace, WTAN, had a PC that I thought would work with it. It didn’t, so I wound up giving the game away.
I’ve also been to Jacksonville Landing before in my radio travels – as one of my radio buddies took me to the Hooters there when I was working for the People’s Radio Network in White Springs.
Fast forward to the 2000’s, the oughts, or whatever was this last decade before the current one. I would religiously watch a reality/sports series called Madden Nation on ESPN. The best gamers back then would ride a version of the “Madden Cruiser” across the country and play games to decide who the champion would be, and a $100,000 prize went to the winner.
The show had some flaws to it. During one season, one player got into a fight with another on the bus, resulting into an ejection the show’s producers had to abruptly explain. As the tournament started to head towards its conclusion, tempers would flare through some spirited trash-talking that gamers would do with each other.
In real-life sports, if trash-talking takes place, there is usually an effort after a point where referees or umpires would step in to tell the players to cease their efforts or be ejected from the game. After a point, the smack becomes useless, because the players are aware that their foe isn’t going to sending them a Christmas card. What shocked me watching the series was the lack of anyone stepping in, a producer or some sort of official to hem the trash-talk in.
I remember thinking that someone would take the ill feelings to an extreme one day, not knowing how prophetic that thought wound up being in 2018.
I can’t help but feel bad for John Madden, who’s now retired at the age of 82. I’m sure he’ll get some of the blame for all of this, wrongly. I don’t think when he created the series with Trip Hawkins back in the 1980’s that he could have ever envisioned a tournament where emotions ran so high that gunshots were fired, fatally, and tragically. My condolences to the victims and their families as well.
The shootings will be used as a political football (no pun intended) for both sides. I can’t help but notice that there is one common thread through all of these shootings, regardless of the motivations of the shooter. That seems to be poor mental health. We are all, on one level or another, addicts to the technological advances of our society. We are all encouraged to consume the technology in a number of ways. Not too many have the courage to tell us the ways all of this consumption harms us.
On days like this Sunday past in Jacksonville, we are reminded of the harms. Then, the games, real and simulated, played on.