The following came to me from my dear friend, David LaFuria. Any email from David is reason to rejoice. I love his take on things. I value his opinion. And I always learn something important.
Subject line: Billy Crystal Eulogizes Muhammad Ali
Sometimes when I sit and think, I think of you.
The funeral ceremony was much too long, but really, all you need to see is Billy Crystal. His vision, that Muhammad Ali was a bolt of lightning, illuminating everything around it, is fantastic. When was the last time one could say that an athlete is the most recognizable person on the planet? When will it happen again?
He points out something important – you had to live through the time to appreciate him. His fights were world events – everything stopped for that hour of boxing – everyone had an opinion. Outside the ring, he was bigger than the president, several of them. Looking back now, those of us who lived it were really lucky. Not to be critical of any one athlete, but let’s pick one. Michael Jordan raised the bar for measuring athletic greatness, but off the court he changed …. what?
Ali affected how all of us think about race. How we Americans think about free expression. And religious freedom. It is a big thing to say he changed how members of other races think about blacks (important terminology here – not just African Americans – but blacks worldwide). More important, he changed how blacks think about themselves. But perhaps his biggest triumph – he changed how whites think about themselves. Again, not just in the US, but around the world.
How many people can you name that have really affected how an entire society thinks about anything important? After Dr. King’s death, who carried his core messages to more people? A king? A president? A business leader? A philanthropist? No….an athlete.
He is the most consequential athlete of the 20th Century, and his athletic accomplishments stand only as a platform for him to be consequential. That he was so beautiful in the ring was the icing.
I’d love to notify you when there’s a new post on The Daily Grace. Just leave your email here.