My students play basketball. I do not. Therefore, it is not difficult to imagine that during the basketball games, I am in the stands. I am on the sidelines. During the basketball games I am that crazy person who’s probably making too much noise while cheering. And Good Heavens, how I am cheering. Winning, losing, passing, running, whatever—I am screaming my heart out and clapping my hands until they hurt. Because here’s the deal—every step that those kids take is one that I am not. Every movement, every dribble, every freaking breath is something more than what I am offering at that moment. When my students are playing and I’m watching, they are the equivalents of gods while I am simply the bird that is anxious to see if Earth or Sea will be created first. So you better believe that I’m cheering them on with every breath. During every moment of that game They. Are. Better. Than. Me. And I know it.
That being said, I’m sure you probably understand why I have to restrain myself from strangling someone every time I hear the whispered words “I could do better.” You could do better? You could do better?! I could be the greatest goddamn actress in the history of the world if I tried hard enough, but I don’t, so you don’t see me trying to break into the Golden Globes. You don’t see me watch Titanic while whispering I could do better than that. That’s stupid. What you could do isn’t worth shit, because while you could do this and you could do that, there’s someone out there actually doing it. And just that tiny bit of truth makes them better at it than you. So don’t even pretend that your greatest moment of sitting on the sidelines could even compare to the players’ worst stumbles. Because as far as I can tell, only one of you got anything done.
Now, don’t assume that this only applies to basketball. Being on the sidelines is something most of us are doing most of the time. It’s how life is. And yet we somehow feel we have the right to judge those actually playing the game. I see people bitch about politics, but I sure as hell don’t see them trying to change the nation through the confines of a broken system. I see people complain about the justice system, but I don’t see them going through the effort to become a judge, police officer or lawyer. I see people talk poorly about teachers, but I don’t see them trying to instruct a classroom full of sponge-like minds for little pay and no thanks. All around me I see people mocking warriors—but not a single one of them is even pretending to reach for a sword of their own. What is with us as a culture? Everyone thinks that standing on the sidelines gives them the right to mock the game, but most spectators don’t even have a firm grasp of the rules. That’s pathetic.
I understand that no one can be amazing at everything, so it stands to reason that we are spectators most of the time. There’s nothing wrong with that. But if you have to spectate, make sure that you be the best goddamn spectator you can be. Cheer, clap, scream—do whatever you have to do but find a way to support the things you enjoy. And for the love of all that is holy DO NOT just be one of those assholes in the stands that’s only there to harass the other team. Nobody likes that guy. If you consider yourself a democrat and start off every political statement with “The Republicans…” Then I have news for you: You are that asshole. Stop it. Don’t just point out what’s wrong with whatever group you’re opposing, but instead find a way to bolster the people that are wearing the same colors as you. Good or bad, ugly or awesome, it shouldn’t matter. Stand by the people you support. Cheer on those who are on the field. Be a team player on whatever court or sideline you’re standing on.