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[202] Escape

I watch sports to escape the byzantine realities of daily living. Among the last things I want is to have my escape experience used as a platform to hash out current issues. But it happens all the time. On TV, I will have to hear Bob Costas engage in a bit of social critique as it relates to a player, a team, a league, or a sport. Costas is not a competent social scientist. He announces sports. Let him be happy with that.

He can get away with it, because Costas is careful to stay safely inside the politically correct foul lines. Curt Schilling, however, was jettisoned by ESPN over a Tweet or two—nothing on the air, just Tweets that hit a third rail of political incorrectness. I am rankled by this as a Christian, as this politicization of sport is generally a subtle way of spraying the listener, viewer, or reader with liberal values. Please understand, this is not a closet attempt to render a conservative counter. It is a plea for even-handedness, or better yet, nothing at all.

And then there is politically incorrect language or opinions coming from the mouths of athletes. These athletes are hardly towering intellects. Permit them their First Amendment rights and leave them alone.

Even in the case of the sensitive matter of domestic abuse. Why do you think universities and professional teams bring the steel shoes down on sports figures even alleged to have cuffed around a domestic partner? Because they are on the side of righteousness? Were that the case there would be myriad other misdeeds for which athletes would be punished. It is simply because domestic abuse is currently among the most highlighted and condemned of wrongdoing in the culture at large, and the sporting establishment cannot afford not to be on the politically correct line of scrimmage on that one. It is about politics not ethics.

When I go on the ESPN website there are features galore that are poorly thought hybrids of sports and current social issues glued together in a story about an athlete, team, or coach. Exhibit A: “The Undefeated,” a largely polemical site dedicated to African-American people and race issues in sport.

Enough already. All I really want to know is who is ahead in this game–the one I am wishing I could be watching on my personal and private “Gilligan’s Island.”


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