The Context of a ‘Bad Night’ for the NFL
(973espn.com) — The Wall Street Journal recently made a corporate decision to try to avoid the term “Millennials” in its latest style guide, a nod to the fact the term has become sort of a "snide shorthand" for an entire generation of people.
On the surface that seems silly because the term itself is hardly hurtful or disparaging and is more descriptive than anything designed to identify a generation for demographers and researchers, in this case, those born in the early 1980s up to the early 2000s.
The vast majority of Millennials are like any other generation, ingrained in its own culture and dismissive of anything that came before it as out of touch, while assuming their DNA as a group is without fault.
It's hardly the first time this has happened. In fact, it always happens with the vast majority of younger people, who don't have the experience to realize life is going to throw a heck of a lot of curve balls and the only way to figure them out is to learn and grow from the previous one you swung and missed on.
No matter the political affiliation, the religious designation or the color of one's skin, everyone reading this over the age of 40 or so has something in common -- you all thought you knew everything while you were in your 20s and now understand how embarrassingly wrong you were.
And everyone in their 20s reading this right now has something in common as well -- you will all ultimately learn that same lesson and have the humility to admit it as the years pass.
George Bernard Shaw once wrote: "Youth is wasted on the young," and few observations are more time-tested than that one.
By this point, you are probably asking what does this have to do with sports?
Well, rewind back to Monday's hard-hitting game between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati where so many raced to social media to demand the Steelers' JuJu Smith-Schuster should be suspended.
Some who embrace overreaction and desperate for likes and favorites even claimed a 21-year-old kid should be thrown out of the league for missing his moving blocking target by six inches or so, not exactly egregious when you add in the speed of an NFL game which is awe-inspiring to those who've ever been at field level.
The thought presumably being that a harsh penalty to Smith-Schuster would be a deterrent to the next guy thinking about doing what he did.
Perhaps a better description of the Millennial Generation should be the video-game generation, at least when it comes to sports because so many really believe Russell Wilson is an extension of their joysticks and every NFL player can simply press up-up and down-down to stop on a dime.
Under today's NFL rules Smith-Schuster was correctly penalized and then popped again for standing over Vontaze Burfict while admiring his own handy work, a taunting foul that will surely draw a fine.
The suspension part of it is ludicrous, or at least it should be, although there is no guarantee that the NFL will not try to satiate the torches and pitchforks that ran to their closest device to declare that the league really has no interest in player safety.
Unless, of course, Smith-Schuster is dragged out to the Twitter town square and sacrificed to a mob which hasn't been able to develop an original thought in years because they are too busy getting in line.
The same people who want Smith-Schuster punished, however, will be supporting the league they claim is so uncaring come Week 14, ready for the next opportunity to gain the cyber acceptance they crave while rationalizing the enjoyment of such a violent sport, something evidenced by the fact that Ryan Shazier came far too close to losing the ability to use his limbs in the same game due to a poor form tackle.
Most Millennials, though, are naive enough to actually believe professional football can be made safe through legislation.
The only way to eliminate things like concussions and the blindside helmet-to-helmet hits that often cause them is to stop playing football and there is a certain level of respect from this writer for those who are at least honest about that and lobbying to eliminate the sport in our society.
The disagreement is there because adults who have the facts and understand what they are signing up for in what is essentially a cost-benefit analysis should have the right to do what they want.
The same respect isn't there for hypocrisy, however, and those who always see things as black and white in a shades-of-gray world.
Right now that defines the Millennial Generation but that is neither disparaging or even unique. Millennials are just the next in line to finally grow up.
-John McMullen is a national football columnist for Extra Points Media and 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen