OJ Simpson: Ground Zero

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The Juice will soon be a free man. Orenthal James Simpson was granted parole last Thursday. He was serving a 33-year prison sentence for his role in a robbery in Las Vegas. OJ will have completed just over 8 years (or one-quarter of his term) once he is let out in October.

Most of you know Simpson either as a star football player, actor, or media personality. But of course whenever his name comes out in conversation these days it always about the so-called “Trial of the Century” and his eventual acquittal of double murder charges in 1995. People also remember the police pursuit with Simpson in the backseat of his white Ford Bronco as it was travelling on a Los Angeles highway just hours after police considered Simpson as a suspect. A lot was happening around that time. Race relations between police and the black community were tense in Los Angeles in the wake of the Rodney King assault.

9/11 may have changed the world but I don’t think it had the impact the way the murder trial did. To me, that is ground zero. I maintain that some of the junk you see and hear in media today (especially sports media) can be traced back to that trial. For instance, stories of athletes doing drugs, committing crime, and making political statements are now being passed as sports programming. We are also seeing more people use race as an excuse for bad behaviour especially when it comes to domestic violence and gun violence. You can even attribute the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States to that trial.

Would we have known the Kardashians had there had been no trial? Would there be an influx of reality programming on television? Would media outlets like TMZ exist today? I think Harvey Levin owes his career to the Simpson trial even though he wasn’t directly connected to the trial. There are quite a number of those you see on TV or hear on radio that have used the trial to boost their careers.

People are only kidding themselves if they don’t think the Simpson trial had any impact on society today. One would think if this was done all over again, how would things be different? Maybe when OJ officially gets released and hits the golf course looking for the real killer, he’ll be wishing for a mulligan.

Also see:

Sports is Not a Platform for Activism
Nobody is Watching Sports Channels
This is the End of the ESPYS

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