Sports media, bias and activism come to an insufferable head
“There was a time when America’s pastime showed a weariness of Florida’s hostile approach to inclusiveness, which in some ways is being reconstituted by its current governor, Ron DeSantis.”
That was the argument from Washington Post sports columnist Kevin Blackistone this week, who proceeded to offer his solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.
“If baseball is still concerned with as much, its 15 franchises that started spring training last month in Florida should consider making the annual exercise an all-Cactus League affair as long as [Gov. Ron] DeSantis commands an attack on diversity.”
You read that correctly: A sports columnist is suggesting that a professional sports league uproot 15 teams because he disagrees with a Republican governor’s stance on education.
Forget what such moves would do to spring training towns and cities economically. Because Blackistone, also a regular pundit on ESPN, really wants to teach the governor a lesson regarding his state’s decision to modify certain elements of an advanced placement high school course on African American studies.
For their part, DeSantis and the state’s nonprofit College Board have determined that parts of the course constitute “indoctrination.”
This is beyond misleading. Because the course Blackistone cites is not your standard teaching of African American studies.
“This is a course on black history—what’s one of the lessons about? Queer theory. Now, who would say that an important part of black history is queer theory? That is somebody pushing an agenda on our kids,” DeSantis recently explained.
Another part of the course that DeSantis and the College Board took issue with was its inclusion of Black Lives Matter — a toxic political organization that has little to do with Black history.
Because, as you may have heard, BLM has seen a serious drop in public approval thanks to internal scandals related to allegations that some of its leaders have spent millions in donations on million-dollar mansions while facing a lawsuit alleging that one of its executives had “syphoned” more than $10 million from donors.
Note: The AP course still includes actual Black history, including lessons on the transatlantic slave trade, the 13th Amendment and Frederick Douglass.
“We proudly require the teaching of African American history,” Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. tweeted. “We do not accept woke indoctrination masquerading as education.”
Blackistone’s suggestion is reminiscent of the sports journalists who demanded that the Major League Baseball All-Star game be moved out of Atlanta because new voting laws would, it was asserted, suppress minority voters in future elections. MLB complied, moving the game to Denver.
“By making this move, [MLB Commissioner Rob] Manfred has put other leagues on notice as long as Georgia insists on standing by this bill,” USA Today sports columnist Bob Nightengale wrote at the time.
“The NFL surely can’t give Atlanta another Super Bowl,” he declared. “Same goes for the NBA and its All-Star Game. And the NCAA and the Final Four.”
The move by MLB caused local businesses in Atlanta, many minority-owned, to lose up to $100 million in revenue, according to the Job Creators Network. Oh, and despite the claim that voters would be suppressed under the new law, Georgia has easily broken voting records in two major elections held since.
Another example of sports media being profoundly political involves transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, the one-time biological male who dominated women’s swimming at the University of Pennsylvania after transitioning. Thomas, as a male, was ranked 462nd in the country at Penn. Thomas jumped to #1 on the women’s side in winning a national championship.
“She should be embraced in the history of progress that sports represent and recognized as the trailblazer that she is,” NBC’s Cheryl Cooky swooned after Thomas’s victory. Cooky went on to compare Thomas to Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947.
What is hard to find in archives surrounding Thomas’s rise is the biological advantages she possesses over other female swimmers. Here’s an exception, per Swimming World magazine’s John Lohn.
“What we are stating is this: The effects of being born a biological male, as they relate to the sport of swimming, offer Thomas a clear-cut edge over the biological females against whom she is competing. She is stronger. It is that simple. And this strength is beneficial to her stroke, on turns and to her endurance. Doping has the same effect.”
The advantages Thomas enjoys are similar to those provided to athletes who take steroids or human growth hormones. But because so many sports columnists are woke or are afraid of being attacked by the woke mob, almost all have avoided weighing in.
Finally, there’s ESPN, which has taken a big turn to the left in recent years, prompting a loss in viewers. In recent months, viewers have been subjected to anchors fighting back tears while talking about the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and pundits calling players who refuse to wear pride flags bigoted.
“ESPN is a journalistic organization — not a political organization. We should do nothing to undermine that position,” Kevin Merida, ESPN senior vice president, once told staffers in an internal meeting. “ESPN’s focus is sports. By-and-large we are not experts on politics, healthcare policies, terrorism, commerce — that’s not what we do.”
Go woke, go broke.
American corporations are quickly learning this lesson. Activist journalists should take note.
Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist.
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