Are liberals taking over sports coverage, too? Increasingly, that’s the way it feels. And it’s not just because Keith Olbermann is back at ESPN.
In just the last year or so, sports has been dominated by stories about NBA player Jason Collins coming out as gay, the Miami Dolphins “bullying” scandal, debates over whether or not “Redskins” is a racial slur (with some outlets refusing to even use the name), and worries over the NFL’s “concussion crisis.”
The increased politicization of sports was probably the first sign. More and more, it seems, the behind-the-scenes soap opera has overshadowed what’s happening between the lines.
And as was the case with Bob Costas’ gun control rant earlier this year — or ESPN commentator Kevin Blackstone’s recent reference to the national anthem as a “war anthem” — many sports commentators are coming down decidedly on the side of political correctness (the flouting of which forced Rush Limbaugh to resign from ESPN a decade ago), away from overt patriotism and pro-American symbolism, and toward using sports to advance progressive social engineering goals.
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“It’s funny to listen to sports commentators on the radio who have clearly been brought up through public schools and state university journalism programs talk about class and race and gender like a sociology major from Smith or Denison,” says R.J. Moeller, a conservative who also writes about sports and culture. “They hate any strong male coaches. They hate any sort of patriotism associated with the sport. They’re treating sports and holding what goes on in locker rooms to the same standard they would a diversity and social justice mediation seminar on Google’s campus.”
And if conservatives are upset about this, it may be because this is all they have left. Progressives have long owned Hollywood, and (except maybe for Nashville) most of the popular music industry. Sports were perhaps the bastion for conservative entertainment — the final refuge for the patriotic, beer-guzzling, macho male who just wants to forget about his day job and watch a game — without hearing a lecture. Those days may be over.