Sometimes it’s Embarrassing to Live in America

by Howie Decker @HowardTheDeck

in Funny

Sometimes people do questionable things.

Apply your term of choice- whether it’s ‘cringeworthy’, ‘douche chills’, or ‘just plain awkward’, when we see it or hear about it we usually wish we hadn’t. Sunday night was one of those moments.

I went to a national chain sports bar/restaurant with a friend to watch a WWE Pay-Per-View event. Believe it or not, that’s not the cringeworthy part yet. And it was a Buffalo Wild Wings, I have no idea why that was the part I kept secret.

While others were there to watch the WWE event, most were tuned in to the New England Patriots vs. San Francisco 49ers Sunday Night Football game. Just before kickoff, embattled NBC announcer Bob Costas made it known that the President was about to make a speech addressing the Newtown tragedy. When Obama’s telecast began, NBC would switch over from the football game to air the speech, while game coverage would move to CNBC until the conclusion of the presidential address.

I turned to Googs and said something like this:

This is gonna be interesting. No one came to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the President give a speech. Knowing this, does the bar switch over to the game? It’s a sticky situation- if I worked here, I wouldn’t want to be the bartender/server who flipped the switch from NBC to CNBC, effectively saying “F the President, F those kids, F current events – I been waitin’ all day for Sunday Night!“.  Cringeworthy.

The game began. As planned, moments after the opening kickoff NBC jumped over to coverage of Obama’s speech. The bar left it on. Good move. But here comes another tell-tale juncture: who’s gonna be the asshole to get up and ask their bartender or server to change it over to the game?

For the next 15 minutes, we reserved judgement on the state of bar-going America. Not because we consciously held off, but because the President’s speech was captivating, moving, and perfect.

It seemed like everyone in the building was dutifully paying attention, absorbing his words, appreciating the moment, and respecting those affected by the tragedy. At least we thought everyone was respecting the moment.

When Obama’s speech came to an end, NBC switched back to Patriots-49ers coverage.

A man at the bar clapped loudly.

Allow me to summarize: The President had just addressed nation, speaking about the unspeakable death of 26 people, mostly 6-7 year olds, that occurred less than 60 hours ago. In his speech he listed the names of every child who was killed. His address interrupted coverage of a football game. When the speech ended and the coverage resumed, a man applauded.

For a second I looked around. Part of me was searching for other people’s reactions to this guy, another part of me silently hoping his clapping wouldn’t be contagious and start the worst round of applause ever. Thankfully, it began and ended with him.

It pissed me off in the moment, but it passed. It wasn’t until my drive home that I really started to break down the situation.

I tried to put myself in that guy’s shoes.

Man that must really suck. Being dragged out of the comfort of his home (against his will I’m sure) to the local sports bar to watch his favorite team (who has already qualified for the playoffs) in a pivotal non-conference showdown, only to have this inconsiderate blowhard come on the TV and talk through the first quarter.

You know what else sucks? The second worst school shooting in U.S. history. The worst thing that could possibly happen to countless families in Newtown, Connecticut. The defining moment in the lives of a whole generation of school children.

But yeah, missing 15 minutes of the football game sucks too.

Let’s talk about applause in general for a moment. Why do we clap? To show support for something, naturally. When the thing we’re supporting can’t hear the applause, we’re really just clapping to indicate to those around us who/what we are there to support.

So this guy wants everyone in the building to know he supports Obama getting the fuck off his TV so he can see this football game.

It was a long, loud clap, too. Not one of those ‘two clap-realize no one else is clapping-quickly put your hands away in shame’ claps. He owned it. I’ll give him that.

I’ll bet he didn’t give it a second thought, and probably no one else at the bar did, and that’s what’s embarrassing about it.

Life goes on. The tragedy won’t affect everyone, that’s just the reality of it. But you don’t have to celebrate it. If events like this have no emotional effect on you, just be quiet. Don’t advertise the fact that you’re selfish, disconnected and dead inside.

When I mentally outlined this post, I envisioned ending with some kind of judgmental exclamation point like “Nothing is more American than football, not even grieving for and respecting fellow Americans.”, but luckily in this case my ire is directed at only one idiot.


Howard Decker (@HowardtheDeck) is the co-creator and editor of UnderScoopFire. He likes fantasy baseball & taco night. You can read his Letter from the Editor here.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Justin December 18, 2012 at 1:00 pm

You sure he wasn’t clapping for the speech he’d just heard? Probably not, but maybe, just maybe, he was?


Howie Decker December 18, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Good question, but he definitely waited until the game came back on. There was an opportune moment for speech reactions, and it had passed.


Howie Decker December 18, 2012 at 2:02 pm

This was a good comment, and a point I should’ve clarified. There was a definite period of ‘downtime’ after the speech where applause would have happened. His applause began after the game came back on.


Will December 18, 2012 at 1:37 pm

This was a really good post. I love “This Just Happened To Me” stuff.

Yeah, if you thought that reaction was bad, you should go to Deadspin and check out all the tweets of folks calling the President everything under the sun for interrupting the game – the same folks who thought the Bieber fans were dumb for getting mad at the same interruption when he made a statement that preempted Bieber’s TV appearance on Friday afternoon. Again, to quote Rod from The Black Guy Who Tips, “people ain’t shit”.

Anyway, thanks for writing this. I felt like I should address the whole matter, but who am I? I didn’t have anything to add as poignant as this.


Howie Decker December 18, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Thanks man, to call it “poignant” is generous, but I appreciate it! Always cherish your comments.


Wifey December 18, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Well said. The American public, as a general whole, is so wrapped up in their own lives and emotions that they can’t stop for 15 minutes (or less) to be respectful of others. It makes me sad that these are also the people that are heard the most (squeaky wheels really DO get the grease). I think the general grown public could use a “Grace & Courtesy” lesson.


Howie Decker December 18, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Thanks!! This was the story I was trying to tell you over the junior chatterbox last night. Figured it would just be easier to type out and hit ‘publish’ than try to talk over that guy 🙂


Shezcrafti December 18, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Maybe he was retarded. They can’t help themselves from randomly clapping sometimes. But probably not.


Brian Morin December 18, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Well said Howie. The guy was clearly a douche, but it does say something positive about humanity that he was the only one clapping.


Howie Decker December 18, 2012 at 5:06 pm

I swear I looked at Googs like “oh no. What if everyone else starts too?” that would have been the ultimate “people are mindless sheep” moment.


Brian (Cool and Collected) December 18, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Well stated, Howie. Sadly, moments like these seem to happen more and more often these days. If an event doesn’t affect you personally, it’s must not be important. Supposedly, the Baby boomers are the “Me” generation, but I think our current generation is certainly giving them a run for the title.

In a somewhat similar vein, did you happen to catch Tom Brady during the moment of silence during that game?


Howie Decker December 18, 2012 at 6:41 pm

Great point. Very great point. And I can say after teaching high school kids for one semester the next generation is even worse (with some pleasant exceptions, of course).

What did Brady do? I know he spent most of the second half in Super Rage-Brady mode.


Brian (Cool and Collected) December 18, 2012 at 9:55 pm

They had a quick cutaway shot to him near the end of the moment of silence when he did this:

I’m sure he was in game mode, but it was a cringe-worthy moment.


Howie Decker December 19, 2012 at 10:04 am

oof. Guy of that stature HAS to realize the camera is always on him. Especially during moments like that. I can’t blame him for what he was doing, but maybe he could’ve waited 15 seconds to do it?

Shanna December 19, 2012 at 7:47 am

Hey Howie. My bf is the General Manager of a BWW in Orlando and if I’m not mistaken his store didn’t have a choice because the game was only on NBC and it was pre-empted. Do you think this guy was clapping in the same (ish) fashion that people start to hoot and holler over the last ten seconds of the national anthem? More of a “play ball” clap not a disrespectful clap? Just trying to think why anyone would find that appropriate. Anyway, nice post. I enjoy your stuff.


Shanna December 19, 2012 at 7:49 am

Unless you meant to turn the channel to sports center while the speech was going on. That was probably an option. I see what you mean.


Howie Decker December 19, 2012 at 10:07 am

I would imagine if BWW has ESPN they have the other cable channels- NBC moved the game over to CNBC while the speech came on NBC. I was waiting for some heartless football fan to ask them to turn off the speech and switch to CNBC, which luckily no one did. This guy was unmistakably clapping that the network switched back to the game. Not for the speech, and not in a “end of the national anthem-play ball!” kind of way either, since the game had already started and we all saw the first play or two before they switched over to the speech.

It was like a little kid cheering for his cartoons coming back on after the network runs its weekly emergency broadcast system test that interrupts whatever’s on.


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