NBC Sports Blogger Implies US Flag is a Political Symbol

A large American flag is unfurled on the field at Yankee Stadium, Monday, April 6, 2015 in New York.
AP/Seth Wenig

NBC’s lead baseball writer Craig Calcaterra recently caused controversy over his sudden proclamation that use of the American flag in sports is somehow “turning sports political,” despite the fact that Old Glory has filled a central role in American sports for well over 100 years.

Calcaterra, who writes for NBC’s Hardball Talk baseball blog, caused quite a splash with a tweet and a post about seeing a giant American flag rolled out across the field at an Atlanta Braves game.

He received so much pushback over his anti-American tweet that he wrote an entire blog post to defend his point, at the same time insisting that his original tweet was just a joke.

In his post, Calcaterra insisted that an “escalation of conspicuous patriotism at the ballpark” exists, and that it started just after September 11, 2001.

The sports writer insists that since 9/11 the American flag has “unquestionably” become “more political.”

He went on to complain, “Casting oneself as more patriotic than the other guy has always been a primary tool in the politician’s toolbox, but it has become a far more important tool in the past 16 years. ‘If you’re not for us, you’re against us,’ is a sentiment that has expanded beyond matters of the literal basic security of our country from its enemies and has become an argument for any old policy one supports or opposes.”

After spending paragraph after paragraph excoriating people who appreciate patriotism and the flag, and calling out Major League Baseball as cowardly for not being willing to “cut back” on its use of the flag, Calcaterra nonetheless tries to cajole readers into accepting his claim that his tweet was a joke, saying “I looked at the photo [of the ballpark flags] my friend posted on my Facebook timeline, and I tweeted out a little joke, poking at those who claim that sports and politics never go together. I did so by sarcastically adopting the voice of one of the many ‘stick to sports’ people we’ve mocked around here many, many times.”

But even as he claims it was just a joke, the writer went on for several more paragraphs upholding his original point, as hinted in the tweet, that Old Glory is too political.

The writer ended his screed by reiterating his point that the flag is misused by MLB. He also said it is “laughable” to think flag-waving is “exclusively done by those with noble and pure intent.”

So, in his attempt to climb out from under his anti-American Twitter post about the flag in sports, Calcaterra bounced from tsk, tsking and finger-pointing, to claiming he was just joking, to again lapsing into finger-pointing and excoriation to prove that he really wasn’t joking at all.

Twitter users were generally not amused by the writer’s anti-patriotism position, and hundreds took to social media to slam him over his claims. Still, while Calcaterra was inundated with attacks on Twitter, he gamely replied to dozens of them, refusing to back down in the face of the onslaught.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com.


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