Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University where he pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeyes from 1971 through 1974. He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league umpire for seven seasons, working for the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA). He has written for numerous websites, and for the past fourteen years has served as columnist and photo editor for The Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press, in Lincoln Nebraska. His interests include history, support for amateur baseball, the outdoors, and he has a music degree from Ohio State University.

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If you question how we got to the point of misunderstanding over who stands for the National Anthem, and who doesn’t, understand the the issue is as raw and open as our individual sensitivities…to almost everything!

There continues to be a pretty heavy response to Press Pros columns about the NFL, players not standing for the national anthem, and those so fed up with it that they’re actually boycotting the games on TV.

I admit. It disturbs me, too, because as I wrote recently, since the first grade back at Chesapeake East Elementary school I’ve been taught generational, appropriate behavior. People died to guarantee our way of life, and regardless of whatever else happens in America that we don’t like, you respect that fact of sacrifice. You stand for the anthem.

But if you ever wonder why we are so sensitive to other, less egregious issues, from the disappointed who demand and call for a kinder and gentler nation, consider this.

In the past week I received three responses that read like this: “I really like Press Pros, but I wish you wouldn’t use terms like “shanked”, and “failed” (in reference to a missed-two point conversion last week). “Wouldn’t it be enough to just state the score with focus on what someone did do, instead of what they didn’t do?”

Wow, but I know why we get such letters.  I read other media sources and you don’t see the negative in their reporting.  The emphasis, as if according to today’s cultural demand, is to accentuate what someone did do, irrespective…of what they didn’t do.”

But you know, during the course of a football game there’s probably two thousand people there who see it when someone “drops” a pass in the open field.

Those people are witness to a “shanked” punt that sets up an opposing team with ideal field position, which then determines the outcome of the game. They understand that because they proudly claim to be intelligent football fans.

They’ve seen it before, when a team “fumbles” and hands possession of the ball to the opposition, who then takes advantage, scores, and celebrates the win at the expense of another team’s “failure”.

They understand that this is just sports, it’s age-old, and it’s part of the game. There’s actually statistics for turnovers and points scored as a result of those mistakes.

And because they do understand sports…I don’t think they turn to the person next them and hug in a show of compassion and solidarity for a more positive America.

So, I have these three scarlet letters of wrong-doing this week; and over nothing more than writing about what everyone else saw, and for generations, understood.  But it is bothersome when you consider that our desire to be positive, kinder, and less stigmatizing has actually gotten in the way of the perspective.  Mistakes area way of life – that they have to be recognized, identified, and corrected. They have to be experienced. There’s no other way!

And this…I’m pretty certain that we’ve come to the point where we actually struggle to understand what’s offensive, and what’s not.

“You could be better if you’d take the time to consider how hurtful those words are to people who are doing their best,” one wrote to me a few years back.

Yes, but what do you say, and how do you say it, when someone has to make two free throws that will either tie the score with no time remaining, or win the game outright…and misses them both?

Do you wipe out the moment, as if it never happened?

Or, long-term, is it better to let it play out? Is it better to deal with the consequences, resolve never to let it happen again, and grow from the experience of learning through failure?

It’s always worked that way. That’s how we got to be America. We’ve dropped a few, we’ve missed a few, and we’ve shanked a few.

And we’re still pretty good for the experience – if you haven’t noticed.

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