You know it must be hockey season when Ron Maclean starts riffing about gender equity on Hockey Night In Canada. His bosses at Rogers have taken away his book of puns and given him The Handmaid’s Tale. We always thought HNIC was a hockey broadcast. Can’t wait for the toxic-masculinity intermission panel.
Not to be outdone, progressive pundit Bob Costas was giving a lecture during the Cleveland/ New York Game two about why MLB needed to change the name of Cleveland’s team from Indians to Guardians. While polling showed that the Indians name – derived from Cleveland star player Louis Sockalexis at the turn of the 20th century – was okay with real American Indians, it left guilty white liberals furious.
Hence the new name. Apparently, Guardians refers to a couple of stone statues that guard a local bridge named after Bob Hope’s father, who was a stone mason. (Oddly, Costas restrained himself from mentioning Hope’s hit movie Paleface.) Nothing says baseball tradition more than ol’ Boot Nose, who was briefly a part-owner of the team. Louis Sockalexis? Not so much.
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But for sheer narrative management, few things will top the press conference in Tampa Bay last week in which squish white ESPN reporter (but we repeat ourselves) Jenna Laine decided to read Bucs coach Todd Bowles his progressive Miranda rights in a question over black coaches. It didn’t go as well as she’d hoped.
“You and Mike Tomlin are the few black head coaches in the league, I wonder what your relationship is like with him and your thoughts on Steve Wilks joining that,” Laine asked. Bowles acknowledged that Wilks is black, but,” We coach ball, we don’t look at colour.”
Undaunted, and sensing a chance to become an MSNBC hero for a day, Laine pressed on. Citing the example “you guys” set, Laine whined, “That has to mean something.” Bowles was not having it. “When you say, ‘see you guys,’ and, ‘look like them,’ and ‘grew up like them,’ it means that we’re oddballs to begin with. And I think the minute you guys stop making a big deal about it, everybody else will as well,” Bowles said. Game. Set Match.
Bowles’ failure to communicate the proper Armistad attitude likely shook the NFL head office, which, five years ago, ran a football league. Now, to keep its sponsors happy, it runs an education camp on grievance and social activism that placates the #BLM radicals buying mansions in Beverly Hills for themselves.
Ironically, though the NFL is 70 per cent black and there is a great deal of political activism among members, its locker rooms remain meritocracies. While the public face is solidarity, players don’t care what colour a teammate is if he can’t do the job. However BLM your politics, if you can’t help the rest of the team win you will be pushed aside for someone who can. Whatever the colour. Which is why Nike’s pet cause Colin Kaepernick never made it back on a roster. He just wasn’t that good.
It’s the same in the NBA, where 73 per cent of the players are black. Even if you’re tight with LeBron or Steph Curry, if you can’t produce – and a white Euro or Asian player can help the team – you’ll be watching from the stands next game.
So equity is a moveable target. While the ESPN censors do Barack Obama head counts on pro coaching jobs versus the black U.S. population (13 per cent), no one seems particularly bothered that neither the NBA nor NFL remotely represents the reality of the modern U.S. population.
But that edification would take the media doing a responsible job of reporting, not signifying. No media segment is more salivating socialist pep squad than the princes and princesses of the press box. Let’s just say they put their left sock on first every morning to impress each other. Where once they were independent, now it’s a given that sports opinion makers are racial herders in sheep’s clothing.
This can be traced back to ESPN awarding its Arthur Ashe Courage Award to Caitlyn Jenner in 2015 – her first year acknowledged as a woman. There was some dispute over awarding the prize to a 50-something trans athlete over current competitors. But parent company Disney kept its network’s eyes focused on the prize of diversity enforcement. Now, a daily sampling of opinions on ESPN means a shower of the latest talking points on race, gender and oppression. (As evidence, ESPN parent Disney has signed a production agreement with political firebrand Colin Kaepernick.)
This leftward lean toward Jenner or Kaepernick is not to say that blacks like Bowles can escape their assigned lane as objects of guilt. That warrants discipline, as when NBA players like Canada’s Andrew Wiggins balked at taking the magic Covid vaccines in 2021. He was pilloried until, under pressure, he succumbed to the needle.
Draymond Green of Golden State summed up the intimidation, saying, “You say we live in the land of the free. Well, you’re not giving anyone freedom, because you’re making people do something essentially … That goes against everything America stands for.” Green was reminded again that the media runs everything. “Draymond Green joins All-Hypocrisy team for vaccine stance,” bugled the New York Daily News.
It was the same for hockey immortal Bobby Orr, who has been made a non-person for supporting Donald Trump in the 2020 election. Just weeks after giving China buddy LeBron James’ political activism a tongue bath, Cathal Kelly in the Globe and Mail hissed, “Neither Bobby Orr nor any other athletes should be leading the political conversation.” Orr is now a pariah, and Kelly is a hero to 416 media liberals.
But that’s the price of a holy war. Independent journalist Matt Taibbi has written, “Bradbury, Orwell, Zamyatin, Huxley and many others predicted the time would come when people would come to believe in a politics of moral perfection so absolute that it would view memory as subversive and demand constant cleansing and reconstruction.” That time has arrived in the oddest place on earth: the press box.
Bruce Dowbiggin is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History, his new book with his son Evan, was voted the eighth best professional hockey book by bookauthority.org. His 2004 book Money Players was voted seventh best.
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