Today, the world lost a great man in Nelson Mandela.
He will forever be known as a leader of the Anti-Apartheid movement, and a brave man who endured decades of unlawful imprisonment in his home country, only to come out with a stronger will of love and compassion in the face of hatred and oppression. He will also be known as South Africa’s first African president in the post-Apartheid era.
That’s why I must, embarrassingly, admit that I knew little of the man as he related to the world of sport.
The fact is, I first heard of his passing on the front page of ESPN.com – something saved for prominent sports figures. Little did I know how much sport played a part in the post-Apartheid era. While I’m sure readers need only point to the 2009 film Invictus (a film I have yet to see), the impact that the 1995 Rugby World Cup had on an entire nation still seems understated.
As activist Richard Lapchick points out in his recent article about Mandela, his quest to unite South Africa through the power of sport reminded me why I became a socially-conscious sports writer in the first place. My lack of knowledge on the subject puts me, bluntly speaking, to shame. Knowing his impact on the world of race and sport now, I can only hope Mandela’s example, will, and hope can carry on into the future.
Judgment came down today that charges will not be filed against Florida State QB Jameis Winston in an investigation of sexual assault from 2012. State attorney Willie Meggs concluded that there were too many factors in the way, including the presence of two sets of DNA in the accuser’s rape kit, lapses in the accuser’s memory, and the accuser’s level of intoxication at the time of the alleged incident, to proceed with the case.
As an outside observer with no allegiance to Florida State, I just thought the whole situation is, as I read one commenter on this story, altogether “lose-lose” for the district attorney’s office – if they sought charges, it would be easy for people to say that they were persecuting a young black man with a bright future ahead of him; if they didn’t (as the case is here), people will say (and are saying) that Winston was not pursued because he was a high-profile athlete.
And what of the accuser? Because of the DA’s decision, she may either be seen as a liar, a cheater, or worse. IF Winston really did what she say he did, this is a nightmare for her. IF Winston really didn’t, the questions will always be up in the air.
It is an unfortunate situation all around, that may, because of its visibility in Americana, discourage more sexual assault victims from coming forward.
On a much lighter note, the 49ers are gaining their bearings once again, just in time to face off against their arch-rivals in the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
Pete Carroll’s squad visits Candlestick for the final time before San Francisco moves to Levi’s Stadium next year, in a grudge match that will determine, if nothing else, whether the Seahawks are still in the Niners’ heads.
After all, their Week 2 beatdown of the 49ers in Seattle established their campaign to be the best team in the NFC. At 11-1, there are talks that QB Russell Wilson, after his dominant performance over the New Orleans Saints, is an MVP frontrunner. The fact is, with all of their weapons back healthy and on the field (including explosive rookie WR Quinton Patton), there will be little excuse for a blowout loss to their NFC West counterparts to the North.
You know, besides the fact that their best offensive linemen may be out for the game, but, who’s keeping track?
In any case, I just hope it’s a close game – if, for nothing else, to show Seattle why the 49ers will be their biggest threat come postseason.
And finally, it looks like one of the San Francisco Giants’ most famous personalities of their 2010 run to the World Series will be staying with the Giants’ biggest rival.
It was reported that closer Brian Wilson signed a one-year contract worth $10 million, with a $9 million option for 2015. As I have said recently, it pains me to see beloved former Giants with bitter rivals, no matter how amicable or bitter the initial split was between player and team.
While I wish him nothing but the best, the Giants fan in me wishes it was with any other team than the Dodgers. Perhaps they will be short-sighted enough to trade him elsewhere in 2014, or they will fail to make the playoffs despite Wilson’s best efforts at closer.
In any case, here’s hoping that, someday, the Beard will no longer be wearing Dodger blue; instead, he will return to the bay in Orange and Black.