A fervent sports fan, I am. I play hockey and love hockey, I love the NFL, I love college football, and even though my Pittsburgh Pirates are perennially terrible – I still love baseball. My brother and I could and would spend hours talking on the phone, bemoaning Steelers’ state and pretending to be General Manager.
Nearly every day, the sports radio plays in any room of my home. My basement is filled to the brim with memorabilia, while my closets are overflowing with sweatshirts and t-shirts.
Some of the most amazing and ridiculous fights in my family growing up were over sports – my mom once locked herself in her car and refused to come out until we agreed to stop fighting over sports.
In 1979, ESPN was the first network to emerge on the scene. The network was now able to spend 24 hours a days, seven days a week, covering and discussing sports.
ESPN is a huge source of entertainment for me.
Democrat Nancy Pelosi tells U.S. athletes to cower to the Chinese Communist Party and not “speak out” against their human rights abuses. pic.twitter.com/EqyK9K2yFL
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) February 3, 2022
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Today was the first day I had seen ESPN in many years. I made a terrible mistake. ESPN is no longer about sports, just as MTV has stopped being music-oriented.
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Over 30 minutes, I was subject to some of the worst and most toxic conversations about race that I’ve ever seen. One host, the woke white host, opined that the reason there is only one black head coach in the NFL was because now that there were black QBs, racist owners couldn’t allow TV cameras to see both a black QB and a black head coach.
Unsurprisingly this woke idiot didn’t provide one iota of proof for his racist TV camera theory. Not to be outdone, former NFL wide receiver turned ESPN talking head Keyshawn Johnson – who was once arrested for beating up his ex-girlfriend – told the world that it was the responsibility of white NFL players to step up and do something.
By the time the third host said, “my position on this is a little more radical,” I had had enough and turned off the damn TV.
Sports used to be a great diversion from politics. This is a way to get away from the culture wars. There was a time – not that long ago – that what mattered on Sunday was whether you bled black and gold, not your position on the politically charged social issue du jour.
Sadly, wokeness hasn’t simply destroyed ESPN, its destroying America’s sports culture in general.
It all began with Colin Kaepernick. Now, there is a total politicization and censorship of sport and culture. Every professional franchise in every sport bends over backwards to please woke America and amazingly – does so almost always at the expense of its own die hard fan base.
It doesn’t have to all be politically-motivated. Not every issue has to fall under the banner of culture wars. In fact, some aspects of American culture can be used to allow Americans to forget politics.
Brian Flores does not play games. Ex-NFL Coach Brian Flores filed a lawsuit in a class action against the league, 32 franchises and their owners citing racial disparity.
Jay Williams, NPR’s host on The Limits spoke to him about the lawsuit and his future career. https://t.co/lmwfDO60Ar pic.twitter.com/GZReVQB0UL
— NPR (@NPR) February 4, 2022
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This is not to say that news media outlets shouldn’t cover political or cultural issues. Covering the Flores lawsuit claiming racism is certainly fair game – it’s a story impacting the NFL. But the coverage of the lawsuit shouldn’t sound more like an episode of Joy Reid’s show than it does a show covering sports.
Professional sports leagues and franchises must avoid creating unnecessary divisions among their fan base. They should focus more on putting a quality product on the field or on the court or on the ice than they do on “social justice.”
In a nation that seems hopelessly mired in division, when it seems that half the country believes the other half lives in an alternate dimension, when we have 24-hour cable news networks doing everything they can to make politics as personal and as divisive as possible – it would be nice to have one refuge from the storm.