You’re not paying attention if you haven’t noticed that sports writers are predominantly liberals who promote leftist ideologies.
According to Bryan Curtis, editor-at-large for The Ringer, that tradition dates back to 1917 with Lester Rodney, a sports writer for party newspaper The Daily Worker.
“I can do a lot of things you guys can’t,” Rodney told his fellow news writers. “I can belt big advertisers, automobile manufacturers, or tobacco companies. … You guys can’t write anything about the ban against Negro players. I can do that.”
“The Crime of the Big Leagues,” as he referred to it, was Rodney’s cause celebre. He chastised owners and managers for not signing black players, and Curtis reports that legendary pitcher Satchel Paige used Rodney’s writings to challenge the World Series victors to a contest against an all-star team comprised of all Negro League players.
Curtis points out that Rodney struggled at times with which liberal angle to choose. Once when a fan picked the hat off the head of Giants manager Leo Durocher, Rodney stuck with the “oppressed masses” headline, writing “ballplayers were workers and should be granted the use of their tools.” Therefore, the thief should return Durocher’s cap.
However, when it came out that the cap-snatcher was a “poor Puerto Rican,” Rodney penned a story that called the man a “victim of capitalism and, thus, had as much right to the cap as Durocher.”
Lester Rodney concluded, writes Curtis, that when writing about sports “from a workers’ point of view instead of management’s, the trade inevitably moves to the left.” He could have added that when writers pen stories from a poor immigrants’ point of view, that trumps writing about the exploitation of workers.
Today’s sports writers are now “far more liberal than the readers,” Curtis observes. Craig Calcaterra, a columnist for HardballTalk agrees, “It’s folly for any of us to think we’re speaking for the common fan.”
With all the negative chatter about Donald Trump, one may think that sports writing is getting even more political. Curtis appears to concur. He states that Trump’s election accelerated sports articles immersion in the politics of the day.
Curtis diagnosed sports writing today, saying, “Activism smuggles liberalism into sportswriting — not as opinion but as news. Whatever his politics, the sportswriter must report Gregg Popovich’s lecture on white privilege; Steph Curry calling Trump an “ass”; and a handful of the Super Bowl–winning Patriots refusing to go to Trump’s White House.”
When writer and historian Taylor Branch wrote a few decades ago that those NCAA athletes not being paid had, “an unmistakable whiff of the plantation,” people raised their eyebrows. “Now, if you turned in a column comparing college football to the institution of slavery, I suspect few editors would try to talk you out of publishing it. But they might ask you to come up with something more original.”
You can read the rest of Bryan Curtis’s article at The Ringer here.