NFL’s New “Crotch Grab” Penalty Against Seahawk’s Marshawn Lynch Is a.) Racist b.) Sexist c.) Anti-Cultural d.) All of the Above?

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Our question interrupts the regular editorial coverage and focus of Seattle24x7’s ten-plus-year chronology of the Seattle Internet business community. Instead, we feel compelled to respond to one of the most controversial issues to emerge this Super Bowl week in the run-up to the 2015 contest between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots.

The answer, of course, is d.) It is racist, sexist and anti-cultural.

In the latest installment of an ad hoc series of dictates concerning how players may dance or celebrate their athletic achievement following a touchdown, the National Football League has handed down a rule that is blind to cultural symbolism and wrongful in stigmatizing a part of the game that would go all but unnoticed were the NFL to simply turn its cameras away from what it decides is offensive.

This latest NFL decree is the second, culturally obtuse, racially insensitive and wrongheaded fiat since the league ruled that celebrating a touchdown by gesturing the outline of a Christian cross or pointing to the heavens was perfectly acceptable while dropping to one’s knees and invoking a prayer with a bow, as might be seen in the Hindu, Muslim or Buddhist religions, was strictly forbidden.

How ironic is it that the popularization of “crotch-grabbing” at the Super Bowl was produced and promoted by the NFL itself.  It happened during the halftime show of SuperBowl 27 when the NFL presented Michael Jackson at the L.A. Coliseum. Jackson grabbed his crotch several times during the global halftime telecast, especially as he sang Billy Jean.

When asked by Oprah Winfrey why he gestured that way, “The King of Pop” explained his crotch grab as being subliminal, “ I think it happens subliminally. When you’re dancing, you know you are just interpreting the music and the sounds and the accompaniment if there’s a driving base, if there’s a cello, if there’s a string, you become the emotion of what that sound is, so if I’m doing a movement and I go bam and I grab myself it’s… it’s the music that compels me to do it.”

We believe the same thing applies in the behavior of Marshawn Lynch.

Yes, there may have been one incident were the attenuation of this particular gesture was flamboyant. But after paying a fine of $25,000, a subsequent incident, much subdued, was still evident, leading one to believe that Marshawn’s acts are similarly as instinctual or subliminal as Michael Jackson’s.

In the scholarly work, Meaning in Motion: New Cultural Studies of Dance, edited by Jane Desmond for Duke University Press, the cross-cultural significance between many dance forms including Hip Hop dance styles and West African Dance music is examined. “Pelvic articulations in both these forms of expression feature prominently along with polyrhythmic relationships between stepping patterns in the feet and concurrent arm gestures,” the author analyzes. Sounds like a high-stepping, body-diving “Beast Mode” run for a touchdown.

MichaelJacksonGrabAnd let’s not make this an African American issue, but a question of ethnography for all people. The ascription of sexuality to several cultures has been made from many patterns of dance. Latino dancing yields such descriptions as fiery, hot, sultry or passionate and all of these terms have been used to describe the tango, or the lambada which can be seen on television’s Dancing with the Stars. While toned down and even white-washed, The New Kids on the Block dance routines show pelvic thrusting, rotating and crotch-grabbing.

Speaking of sexism, the scantily clad cheerleaders who dance and jiggle on the sidelines are a featured attraction of NFL football games in an effort to excite the crowd throughout the entire game, not ,just in a split-second. One might argue, which activity is more sexually explicit?

It is no less obscene for Marshawn Lynch to conduct  his rightful “touchdown dance” by placing his hands wherever he wants them in a gesticulation, than it was for Michael Jackson or Elvis Presley to do the very same thing while caught up in the raw emotion of their performances. A 15-yard team penalty for such  instinct is completely unjustified.  ”’

For the NFL to indoctrinate any type of rules of behavior based on race or culture and then penalize an athlete for answering or behaving according to his own cultural heritage and innate humanness is not only wrong, but, in the opinion of this publication, a violation of American civil rights.  [24×7]

Category: What's Brewing?

About the Author (Author Profile)

Larry Sivitz is founder, publisher and managing editor of Seattle24x7, the founder of SearchWrite Search Marketing, an SEO, PPC and Social Media Thought Leader, and an SPJ award winner for Seattle magazine.