Washington Post sports writer John Feinstein, author of the 1986 inside look at former Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight (A Season On the Brink), can't wait to hear from right-wingers about his latest column condemning the notion of sticking to sports. In a tweet promoting the column, Feinstein dismisses the idea of sports writers and athletes sticking to sport as "ludicrous."
In the column, "Sticking to sports’ isn’t just pointless. It’s inhuman", Feinstein writes the stick-to-sports sentiment was best summed up in February 2018 by Laura Ingraham, when she said on the Fox News program Ingraham Angle that President Trump hater LeBron James should “shut up and dribble.”
Sports media veering out of their lane is nothing new, Feinstein argues. "More and more nowadays, it has become impossible to separate politics from sports. In the past week, we have seen three more examples of why they often meet and, in some cases, must."
The first example is the Navy football team changing its "Load the Clip” motto to “Win the Day.” Feinstein said the team's four captains failed to understand that the Maryland region surrounding the Naval Academy is still recovering from the shooting deaths of five people of the Annapolis Capital Gazette and three shooting deaths at an Aberdeen Rite Aid warehouse.
Second on Feinstein's list is last weekend's Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony, when inductee Champ Bailey "spoke eloquently on a subject similar to the one James had addressed: being a black man in this country."
Feinstein said some people would have preferred if Bailey had stuck to thanking his family, teammates, coaches, friends and football.:
"Many feel uncomfortable when an athlete says something that might force them to think. Bailey’s message was direct: It isn’t easy to be a black man in this country, and he wished more people would listen. A lot of people simply don’t want to."
Lastly, Feinstein cited the story of Philadelphia Union soccer player Alejandro Bedoya, who scored a goal and then yelled into a TV microphone for “Congress, do something now. End gun violence. Let’s go!” This was in response to the El Paso and Dayton shootings.
After the game, Bedoya and Coach Jim Curtin called for gun control. “I’m not going to sit idly by and wait for things to happen 50 years from now,” Bedoya said. “I want change now. ... I’m a human being before I’m an athlete.”
Coach Curtin said: “A lot of people will tell me now and will tell [Bedoya] to shut up and stick to sports and all the stupid lines that come up. But it’s crazy in our country right now, and I think it needs to change as well.”
"That pretty much says it all," Feinstein writes. He also says that when Colin Kaepernick began kneeling in 2016 and when more than 200 NFL players knelt or stayed in the locker room during the anthem in 2017, it proves his point about media not sticking to sports.:
"So were the players injecting politics into sports, or was it the other way around?"
Not only are conservatives against the intermingling of sports and politics, Feinstein claims, but "much of it is racially charged: white political commentators and white sports fans who want athletes, many of them black, to stick to dribbling and stop taking away their enjoyment of the games with any sort of political protest."
Feinstein says he gets bombarded with “stick to sports” tweets when he gets political, and, "My guess is if I criticized James, Kaepernick or Bailey, I’d hear very little of that. Now, thanks to Bedoya, I have an answer: 'I’m a human being before I’m a sportswriter.'”
The “stick to sports” demand is not an answer," Feinstein concludes. "It’s angry, pointless rhetoric. We’ve already got too much of that."
To set the record straight, Newsbusters' archives are filled with examples of coaches, athletes and sports media ― notably USA Today's Nancy Armour, The Shadow League's Carron J. Phillips, The Nation's Dave Zirin and others ― making angry, pointless remarks about President Trump, conservatives and Christians.