WaPo Defends Costas: Please Keep Spouting Off

By accident or design, the Washington Post's Erik Wemple has come up with the perfect plan to destroy the NFL:

Such reaction speaks to the mentality of the sports consumer: Give me the game, the X’s and the O’s, the instant replays, the halftime highlights and leave the rest of the world out of it. It’s an understandable set of preferences. Sport, after all, is an escape.

But it’s also an unrealistic and narrow-minded set of preferences. NFL players live in our society and are bound by our laws. The things that they do affect the public beyond whether their teams cover the point spread. And few cases better exemplify that dynamic as powerfully as the Belcher incident, in which the player shot and killed his girlfriend and later himself.

Those circumstances didn’t merely provide Costas with a chance to raise larger issues on “Sunday Night Football”; they provided him with an obligation to do so. ...

So I say: More editorializing, more coverage of the nexus between sport and society and government, more spouting-off of the sort that’ll anger all those guys who wear team jerseys every Sunday.

I emailed Wemple to ask if  he'd be as excited over this idea had Costas done the exact opposite of what he did and instead sucker punched the left with a half-time rant about how Jovan Belcher's girlfriend might be alive today if all Americans owned guns. Moreover, what if the NFL's new public affairs' stance resulted in half-time editorials opposing abortion, same-sex marriage, and the debunking of Global Warming?

"What I am advocating here is not that public affairs programming replace sportscasts," Wemple responded. "All I am saying is that when sports collides with the world outside, there's an opening for sportscasters to weigh in. So if somehow the issues of gay marriage, climate change and abortion intersected with the NFL at some point, I'd be happy to see the issue addressed as part of the sports broadcast."

In a later post, Wemple also said he would be okay with the NFL broadcasting an editorial opposing gun control.

Fair enough, but I think things would look entirely different throughout the overall media landscape today had Costas or any other high-profile personality in the NFL hijacked a halftime to defend traditional marriage, oppose abortion, or debunk Global Warming. Cries of anti-science, anti-women, and homophobia would fill the air.

Because the media has declared these positions morally wrong and decided, as opposed to argued, we all know my hypothetical perpetrator and the NFL itself would be under all kinds of mainstream media hell-fire right now.

After all, does Wemple or anyone else think we've forgotten the media hazing Tim Tebow's faced throughout the past couple of years simply for being, you know, a Jesus freak?

But the idea of injecting any kind of politics into the NFL is a disastrous one, and this is coming from someone who isn't even a football fan.

What NFL football I have seen, though, tells me that one of the things the NFL gets absolutely right is how effective they've been at being able to deliver on a promise to lose yourself for a few hours to escape -- among other things --  from the divisive, partisan, controversial politics that infect absolutely everything else.

Though this isn't a perfect example, what Wemple's suggesting here would result in what almost everyone hates about the Academy Awards -- where you can't sit back, relax, and enjoy the escapism because you never know when someone's going to insult you or your beliefs. The ole' sucker punch.

If Wemple thinks Costas had an "obligation" to flack for gun control, fine. But there are all kinds of broadcast, print, and online forums in the world of sports that allow Costas to meet this "obligation" without breaking the NFL's promise.

No one's saying Costas doesn't have a right, but what he did was rude and narcissistic.

Overall, the idea of injecting politics into football would effectively ruin football -- it would take away the enjoyment and relaxation attributes that are a large part of the sport's attraction.

I do think, though, that that's part of the left's plan.

NFL football remains one of the few remaining outlets in this country that's culturally conservative: openly pro-troop, patriotic, colorblind, masculine; a place where excellence is pursued, fairness is enforced, and not everyone gets a trophy.

Like every other conservative institution, the Left will never stop trying to infect or infest it until it's no longer recognizable. 

 

*This story is part of the Big Journalism Live Blog, which you can bookmark here.

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC

 


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