O.J. Simpson: Separating Art from the Artist

What is art? Although it doesn’t have a clear definition, art often serves the functions of aestheticism and entertainment. In this context, sport is an art form considering its unique craft, beautiful motions, and the fact that it hooks millions of people. The most popular and televised sport in the U.S. is football. Hence, if football is art, the football player is the artist. Keeping this in mind, let’s take a look at one of football’s all-time greats, O.J. Simpson.

Being part of the NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team, the 1970s All-Decade Team, as well as the College-, and Pro Football Hall of Fame, O.J. Simpson is one of the best players to ever set foot on a gridiron. Simpson is widely regarded as the best runner of the NFL as he was the first one to rush over 2,000 yards in a 14-game season. In addition, Simpson was selected for five Pro Bowls and awarded Most Valuable Player, and Athlete of the Year in 1973. However, the name O.J. Simpson is rarely connected to his on-court achievements but rather his criminal history.

On the night of June 12, 1994, Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ronald Goldman were murdered outside of Brown’s home in Los Angeles. Subsequently, Simpson was declared the prime suspect, which started a year-long trial that would tarnish Simpson’s reputation for ever. Even though, he was found not guilty, a following civil trial charged him for over $30 million in damages to the victim’s families. Furthermore, Simpson was sentenced to 33 years in prison after he was found responsible for armed robbery and kidnapping in 2007.

Thus, the case of O.J. Simpson is a prime example of separating art from the artist. Despite being a convicted criminal and alleged murderer, Simpson was an artist on the football field since he entertained the masses and produced some of the NFL’s most memorable moments. Among them were his famous 200-yard rushing games against the New England Patriots and New York Jets in 1973. This creates two personas that shouldn’t be confused with each other: O.J. Simpson, the artist and O.J. Simpson, the criminal. We should not diminish the achievements of the former based on the actions of the latter.

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4 thoughts on “O.J. Simpson: Separating Art from the Artist

  1. I think depending on the crime we can separate art from the artist. But Oj did most likely kill his ex-wife, and I don’t think being talented means we can still cheer him on. I think it’s okay to like what OJ did on the football field and even watch an old game of his every now and then; but I don’t think we should we be doing anything that gives the guy money or praise. Like buying a jersey or going on twitter to talk about how dominant he was. I say that because he’s still alive and can see everything we say about him online. And seeing that praise and positive comments about their time as a player might take away from the shame they feel for their crimes.

  2. I think depending on the crime we can separate art from the artist. But OJ did most likely murder a person, and I don’t think being talented means we should still cheer him on still. I think it’s okay to enjoy what OJ did on the football field and to even watch an old game of his every now and then, but I don’t think we should be doing anything that gives the guy more money or more recognition. Like buying a jersey of his, or going on Twitter and talking about how dominant of a player he was. I say that because, OJ’s still alive, and can see everything we say about them online. And seeing that praise and positive comments about their time as a player might take away from the shame they deserve for their crimes.

  3. I mean we can say separate the art from the artist, but in this day and age I don’t see that as a possibility. For instance, Ja Morant is suspended not for breaking any laws, but for breaking the “morality clause” of the NBA. Whether we like it or not, athletes are not just their on court performance, but their entire persona. Sports are about entertainment, and that entertainment is not just on the court, what happens off the court is almost just as important as what happens on the court for the perception of an athlete. I think that especially with the rise of social media, this is even more the case today. That doesn’t mean we can’t say that they were great players, but it is part of their careers and part of their stories.

  4. Oh, OJ….

    I think the idea of separating art from the artist is a good idea, although it’s difficult to do, since they are the art in itself, or in the art. For example, I got mad beef with Michael Jackson, but I do enjoy me some “Billie Jean”. Considering the art, and the crime, it’s almost not possible to separate them completely. OJ killed his ex-wife, but people think he’s a great football player, and objectively he is. The point being is that with knowledge of his past, it’s hard to be objective.

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