It is not the toothless grin of the jack-o’-lantern, a name that will give even the most fastidious punctuators among us a shiver with its strange hyphen and accent mark combination, that scares me. Nor is it the light of a candle that illuminates just how far we have come from traditions of centuries ago when we celebrate, made obvious by the peppering of tacky plastic trinkets that are supposed to spell we are having ghoulish fun the weeks surrounding All Hallows’ Eve.
I am here not going to ask how many children and adults get hurt every year attempting to carve a pumpkin. Nor will this be a treatise on how quite a few women enjoy dressing up in sluttish costumes before returning to their daily lives, reminding me of William Carlos Williams’s poem about respectable citizens wearing white nightgowns instead of a cataloguing of bright colors. And forget the party schools’ celebrations getting way out of hand, with lots of arrests, evoking Halloween to intoxicate more than usual. College students, costumes, and alcohol are just a combo waiting for a disaster to happen.
No, the Halloween I am concerned about lies in the costumes involving professional and college athletics this past year. As reported by the Huffington Post, in a headline that is not amusing though someone must think it clever, someone dressed up as Ray Rice and dragged a blow up doll behind him. Proof is in the large and tacky photograph posted on the Huff‘s website.
I am not even going to Google Jameis Winston and Halloween. I predict someone enterprising has produced a people-size crab leg costume–maybe several people can get into the costume–and once again despicable behavior by certain college football players will be on display. I sincerely hope no one has visualized and found a way to make a Halloween costume that involves the wording Winston shouted from atop a cafeteria table in the FSU student Union.
These costumes are frightening. But what is frightening about these costumes is the prevailing attitude that would be reflected in their existence and Halloween popularity. That someone, no, many people will sport such distasteful costumes is frightening because the entertainment factor has once again triumphed over the educational factor when it comes to professional and college athletes and criminal and/or immoral acts.
I doubt many holiday revelers will raise their beer bottle and truly resolve to take action to have evil, yes, let’s call them evil, in the spirit of Halloween and also non-PC truth, college athletes, punished. Not being allowed to play half a game, a game, or a game or two, that is sadly the extent of powder puff punishment.
The crimes of college athletes follow a predictable pattern or cycle. Discovery, public outcry, some minor punishment, some official talk about behavior such as that which just occurred will not be tolerated, and then it’s back to normal. Halloween time year round for college sports.
How wonderful, as crazy as it sounds, if throughout the year students, faculty, administrators, the public-at-large, when yet another brazen instance of misbehavior by a college football athlete occurs, could summon their collective imagination and courage and dress up in a costume related to the crime and march and protest en masse so that both the media finds in it entertainment to cover extensively and the ultimate learning experience–after all, as Graham Greene and others have observed, one must first entertain in order to teach something–will be true zero tolerance by administrators and college athletic programs for ghoulish, gross, despicable actions by a few athletes who are increasing to unacceptable numbers, one being too many.