Sports have a tremendous potential to impact our culture and society, and they do so in a transformative way that transcends politics. Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier and helped usher in the civil rights era by working hard. Baseball helped unify the country and heal wounds after 9/11. But lately, the Left has been hijacking the power of sports for their own political gain, pushing liberal politics onto sports fans across America.
Just in the last few years, we’ve seen the Left use sports to protest Arizona’s immigration laws, engage in corporate bullying against North Carolina, and dishonor the American flag. Sports used to be an escape and something we could all relate to; now, it’s just another source of strife and division because the Left refuses to leave the American people alone.
In an interview this past weekend for The Sporting News, Fox Sports 1 commentator Jason Whitlock, who has been the target of a lot of liberal criticism, was asked about this trend:
SN: Some sports journalists want more pro athletes to speak out on political and social issues. But didn’t kneeling during the national anthem probably cost Colin Kaepernick his NFL career? If we keep injecting politics into sports, are we in danger of killing the golden goose?
JW: Kap isn’t on a team right now because he’s delusional about his standing in the league. He wants too much money and a chance to start. Malcolm Jenkins raised a black fist all season. He’s still in the league. Kap is a backup quarterback who only fits one system. Chip Kelly used that system and won one game with Kap last year. Kelly got fired. Coaches don’t like getting fired. Kap can get you fired. Kap is running around with Twitter idiots who love to play the race card. No general manager or coach wants Shaun King second-guessing them in the New York Daily News about a one-win quarterback who is trying to prove his blackness through public gestures. A lot of allegedly well-intentioned people are using Kap to keep themselves relevant or mask the fact that they’re uncomfortable living in that sunken place Jordan Peele made a movie about. Kap needs to Get Out and get new friends. Kap, if you read this, call me. I’m TSA. I handle s— like this. As for killing the sports golden goose? Far-left political ideologues want to reshape sports culture to their liking. Sports culture has long had a major impact on American culture. The values taught and celebrated in sports are conservative. The far left wants to change that. They want sports to have a liberal impact.
The question asked was phrased well: Are they risking losing the golden goose? By getting involved in individual pieces of legislation, sports leagues and the sports media are risking driving people away. It’s not the same as Jackie Robinson and civil rights, where there was an objective good that sports could help address. In today’s cases, these are individual policies on which people of good will can disagree.
Noticeably absent, or at least behind, in the left-wing trend has been baseball. While the NBA and NCAA — and, to some extent, the NFL — have been heavily involved in corporate bullying and activism, baseball has stayed more or less clear of politics. This is a smart move, as this graph of the voting behavior of sports fans demonstrates:
Despite being centered on the coasts, baseball draws most evenly from conservatives and liberals of any sport. Major League Baseball would do well to remain above the fray.
Back to Whitlock. In January, an article in The Ringer was one of the first to discuss what we already know — sports journalists and commentators have become overwhelmingly liberal and just won’t leave their politics out of it. Whitlock was asked about it, and spoke an important truth about not just sports writers but the media in general:
SN: Bryan Curtis of The Ringer wrote a widely discussed column on how sportswriting has turned into a “liberal” profession. Is he right or wrong?
JW: Curtis’ piece barely scratched the surface. I’m glad he wrote it. It started a conversation. But he didn’t cast a very wide net. I’m not sure he quoted one minority person. But, yes, sportswriting has moved far left. The entire media has moved far left. The media used to cater to New York, the hub for traditional liberal values. Journalists used to be obsessed with working at a New York magazine or newspaper or TV network. Now the entire industry is obsessed with going viral and how words will be received via social media. Who determines this? San Francisco/Silicon Valley, the hub for revolutionary, far-left extremism, the home base for Twitter and Facebook. Twitter and Facebook’s employee base is from the area. New York and San Francisco are distinctly different. San Francisco is driving the American media, not New York. You have young, microwaved millionaires and billionaires reshaping the American media in a way that reflects San Francisco values. This is a major story the mainstream media ignore. San Francisco hacked the media. Frisco-inspired clickbait is the real fake news.
Wow. He’s really on to something here.