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Representation Matters in Football and Life

Representation Matters in Football and Life

As the realignment rumblings move on and we talk about TV deals, Fox vs ESPN promoting their new "in-house" leagues of the Big 10 and SEC respectively, etc it becomes even more clear that exposure is going to be key moving forward and even if there isn't a hard split/break away between the P4 and the G6 (sorry Pac-10), the gap will continue to widen as coverage becomes more hyper focused.

Out of sight, out of mind.

Being seen matters - that's why the Pac shoving half their games on the P12 Network or being on ESPN2 after everybody went to sleep didn't help much for bolstering their league - participation in HS football is down in the west, and the kids in the east aren't paying attention to most of the programs. The league as a whole is suffering.

TV Exposure Isn't the Only Exposure

Last fall, we had the illustrious Hemā Heimuli on for our USU preview to pour out his hatred for all things Aggies. One thing we talked about is his position as the producer of the kickoff show on BYUtv and the coaches shows for both Mark Pope and Kalani Sitake.

He brought in a Polynesian flair to the Kalani Sitake show to make the show about Kalani. He also talked about how a lot of the Poly "t-shirt fans" that faded during the Bronco era or were more neutral on which team they rooted for in state are returning to LES and I gotta tell you, I love seeing the T thrown up in the stands.

Kalani Sitake is the only FBS head coach that was born outside of the United States. He Ken Niumatalolo are the only 2 Polynesian head coaches. Those two along with Kyle Whittingham and Mike Leach (sorry Gary Patterson, you had a good run) are the only 4 "LDS" (if they're on the books, count it) HCs.

All of those matter to varying extents.

It matters that Jaren Hall is the first black starting QB at BYU given the marred history of race within the sponsoring institution. That paves the way to break down the barriers to other kids where BYU will not be written off anymore.

It goes beyond football too

There was the "Mormon Moment" in 2012 with Mitt Romney's presidential compaign. Like him or not, it brought a LOT of publicity to the church and when he won the nomination and got 47% of the vote it sure felt like "hey, maybe at large people will put biases aside for a Mormon". That mattered.

In 1960, JFK gave a speech about being Catholic to a group of Protestant preachers in Houston over similar issues. Nobody has thought twice about a Catholic president since then.

There are first for everything but once they happen, the wall is broken and the tokenism is gone. We need to keep breaking down those walls.

Back to TV for a wake up call

My FIL was born in Mexico. It's something we try to bring up with our kids to help them understand that they've got a pretty damn good life and not that long ago people in our family were living in a desert village with no running water or electricity.

It's also a reality that in the state of Alabama, my own marriage would've been illegal before the year 2000 and sometimes people get treated differently because they way they look. It's rare, but it happens.

So when I was laying in bed after reading a story to my daughter a couple weeks ago, I was absolutely gutted when she said "Daddy, I don't want to have brown skin anymore".

We had talked about this before. A while ago she asked why "Tata" had dark skin and why her tías have darker skin too. But on that day, she said she didn't want it anymore.

I kind of panicked. I've never had to deal with this. She had just started pre-school so I was worried that one of the kids may have said something. As I prodded a bit more, it was because she wanted to look like Elsa.

Which is normal. Every girl does. But she was was that her hair and her skin were brown and not like Elsa. And was confused why I got to have light skin like Elsa.

So we talked about it at a level that a 3 year old could understand: skin color is like hair color. And it doesn't matter what somebody looks like we should be nice to them. And she happens to have dark skin becasue Tata is from Mexico and Mexico is cool because that's where tortillas and tacos and burritos and churros come from and she loves eating all those things.

And everybody in Coco is from Mexico.

And everybody from Encanto is Colombian, but they are also Latino.

And she lit up and said "Yeah! like Mirabel!"

When my in laws came to our house last weekend, she was sitting on her tata's lap and proudly proclaimed "we have dark skin because we are MEXICAN!" and was so excited to share what we had talked about a few days before. In a grown up world, that's a little rigid but in her world she found one part of her identity and she was proud of who she was.

She forgot about Elsa for a minute and was happy to be Mirabel. And after that she started playing "Frozen" and was just fine pretending to be Elsa even though they don't look the same - because she just wanted to have ice powers and that is what really mattered.

PS: Yesterday she brought this self portait home from school. Looks like an ice princess to me.