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Guerin Emig: Pleasure of sports dimmed by plundering of facts in real world

Guerin Emig: Pleasure of sports dimmed by plundering of facts in real world

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Oklahoma State won the Cheez-It Bowl by beating the Miami Hurricanes, not the Miami Wardogs.

Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins won the Chuck Bednarik Award, not the Cy Young Award.

Spencer Rattler quarterbacks the Oklahoma Sooners, and Spencer Sanders quarterbacks the OSU Cowboys.

These are facts. It feels insane to raise the issue.

It is also insane that a mob overtook the U.S. Capitol last week. The facts were lost on them. America lost a lot more as a result.

We must reconcile this before we play, cheer and write about games again. These are life’s pleasures not fully realized when pain pervades.

I have written one sports column since Wednesday. It was hell to get through because the news kept pouring in.

I have watched a few games. They were barely a diversion.

Perhaps you can tune into Alabama-Ohio State or Thunder-Lakers next week completely undisturbed by what is happening in and to our country. Congratulations on your will power.

I can’t. Not without addressing what is happening first.

Wednesday felt like dark, terrible forces, years in the making, twisting together like barbed wire.

Since I have a column to work with here and not a book, let’s focus on one of those forces most despicably evident — an assault on facts and reality.

Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in the presidential election by the popular vote and the electoral college. He won fairly, as decreed by the numerous court dismissals of election fraud accusations since Nov. 3.

This is as accurate as the 55-20 final score in the OU-Florida Cotton Bowl. If we accept that the Sooners beat the Gators that night, we must accept the fact we have a newly and justly elected leader of our country.

That so many Americans refuse to accept that reality, that so many refuse to accept any reality that inconveniences their ideology, was concerning before Wednesday. It was dangerous.

But we could dismiss it, I suppose, because we hadn’t been punched square in the gut. We could still watch SportsCenter, enter a bike in the Tulsa Tough or tailgate outside Boone Pickens Stadium and bask in the delightful escapism.

How much joy can sports bring when, in the real world, insurrectionists who shun fact spend one of the worst days in American history ripping up the roots of our democracy so as to replace them with gallows poles?

I don’t believe in the separation of sports and state. Right now I sort of wish I did. That way, I could raise my shield and watch TU’s basketball game at Wichita State next week or Bedlam in Stillwater next weekend without a care in the world.

I can’t, though. Not without coming to grips with where we are first, and I can’t do that without imploring you to join me.

We are all entitled to our feelings, about politics, sports, the weather and anything else, until they do harm. Hearts can ache, but if they turn cold and cruel they are as poisonous as warped minds.

The hearts are for another column. Here, let’s clear our heads so they don’t take us someplace like Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

Please consider “alternate facts” as something more serious than a talk-show catch phrase. Resist them.

Fight on behalf of truth. I can’t believe I need to type this, but fight on behalf of reality.

One of several conversations I’ve had since Wednesday was with Monroe Nichols, the former TU football player who represents sections of Tulsa, Owasso and Sperry as an Oklahoma state legistator. I asked him how he felt Thursday morning.

“I woke up with a recognition that I have a high standard to always be truthful with folks, even if it’s going to be inconvenient for me politically,” Nichols said. “If everybody who holds political office or who is going to run for office decides to do that, that’s the only way our system works moving forward.

“If we live in a world with alternate facts, if we live in a world where we say things that go against getting along, this won’t be the last time the Capitol gets overtaken. It puts everybody at a heightened risk.

“It’s going to take folks who decide they’re just going to be honest. If folks were honest about this election, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

Nichols is a Democrat, but there is nothing partisan about that statement. Congressional Republicans who voted against the conspiratorial electoral college challenges of their colleagues Wednesday night into Thursday morning at the Capitol are proof.

Nichols is stating fact. That’s it.

There are several dreadful layers to Wednesday’s tragedy, so many that it’s hard to know where or how to begin. I’m here starting at the bottom, with the suggestion that some of us argue whether two plus two equals four right now.

That repudiation of reality was shameful at first, and then worrisome. Now it has horrific, deadly consequences. It just formed the boggy breeding ground for a coup attempt.

I haven’t been able to think much about football or basketball since Wednesday. Watching the games hasn’t felt the same. Neither has writing about them.

So this is me writing about what I am thinking about instead. It makes me angry and sad and scared over what kind of country my children will raise their children in.

This is me hoping truth and fact carry the day in that country. That the games go on and players, spectators and even writers can disappear in them joyfully since society hasn’t disintegrated around them.

guerin.emig@tulsaworld.com

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Sports Columnist

I'm the proud father of Gretchen and Holden. Devoted husband to Christy, who has been my best friend since biology class at Booker T. Washington. I covered the OU Sooners for 15 years. That was both challenging and rewarding. Now I get to write columns.

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