ESPN fired Curt Schilling for giving his political opinion. The Worldwide Leader in Hypocrisy begged LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony to give theirs.
One could say the tuxedoed quartet of All-Stars hijacked the ESPYs with a political harangue Wednesday night. But that would misunderstand a political advertisement as a purely sports show. As last year’s Caitlyn Jenner infomercial about transgenderism showed, the ESPYs airs as ideological indoctrination cross-dressing as sports awards show.
And after James, Wade, Paul, and Anthony said their piece, the ESPYs provided a cameo role to Joe Biden and featured a grieving mom of a son killed by gang-bangers make a plea for gun control. America watches sports to escape politics. But sports broadcasters find their fare boring. They wish they read the news instead of commented on hockey highlights. So, they keep hitting their captive audience over the head with programming about bullying, homophobia, transsexuals, and other topics that generally display only the most tangential connection with athletics. And we keep watching them play their games because we love watching LeBron and Floyd and Tom and Bryce and Sid and Serena play their games.
“The racial profiling has to stop. The shoot-to-kill mentality has to stop. Not seeing the value of black and brown bodies has to stop,” Wade declared last night, before stopping himself to mention “retaliation” and “gun violence.”
“Generations ago, legends like Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, John Carlos and Tommie Smith, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown, Billie Jean King, Arthur Ashe, and countless others,” Paul claimed, “they set a model for what athletes should stand for. So we choose to follow in their footsteps.”
Some of those athletes “set a model of what athletes should stand for” outside of the arena. All of them performed as model competitors on the playing field, court, track, and the canvas. Isn’t that where athletes should take their stand?
Babe Ruth’s Hall of Fame plaque remains silent on whether he supported or opposed the Bonus Army, voted for Calvin Coolidge or John W. Davis, or sided with God or the apes in the Scopes Monkey Trial. It mentions his 714 regular season home runs and 15 in World Series play. That matters. His views only do for people who care little for sports. The non sequitur of imposing ideology on athletics confirms that so many of us still don’t know what to watch when we tune-in to sports.
We don’t ask Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton for their 40 times before we walk into the voting booth. Why must ESPN examine the political bumperstickers sports stars put on their sports cars before giving them a platform?