NY Times Writer Robbins Hails 2019's 'Social Justice' Turn of Athletes Speaking Out

January 1st, 2020 9:25 PM

Reporter Liz Robbins wrapped up the year in left-wing athletic activism on the front of the New York Times sports page New Year’s Day, though she put it in more flattering terms in “Playing for Trophies, and for Change.”

Robbins began and ended with U.S. soccer star and Trump-hating, Elizabeth Warren-endorsing gay activist Megan Rapinoe:

Of all the brilliant fireworks of the 2019 sports season, the color purple -- and the woman who wore it -- defined the year.

Megan Rapinoe brazenly led the United States women’s national soccer team to a World Cup victory in France in July, her purple hair a banner for the right to be different but equal....

Stick to sports? Not possible today when politics, society and money are more thickly interwoven than the flags the athletes represent.

Rapinoe and her teammates led the charge for equal pay with their men’s team counterparts, suing the national soccer federation for gender discrimination in March. With their case pending and the team marching through the World Cup, Rapinoe then sparred with President Trump over his stance on racial justice....

“No question, we have had a front-row seat to history in terms of the message that Megan Rapinoe has so eloquently expressed about the human condition,” said Ellen Staurowsky, a professor of sport management at Drexel University....

At the end of a divisive year, and at the end of a tumultuous decade, sports have become even more relevant. Long a bastion for abuse, homophobia, misogyny and injury, the sporting world has started to embrace diversity, vulnerability, gender equity and activism.

Robbins celebrated some athletes for speaking out -- and celebrated the punishment of those who spoke out about things she didn’t like.

Brandon Brooks, a Philadelphia Eagles offensive lineman, left a game because of an anxiety attack and said he was not ashamed. The Australian rugby federation terminated the contract of its star player, Israel Folau, who is a fervent Christian, for his social media posts about gay people. On Instagram, he said they were going to hell.


Mary Jo Kane, the founder of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota, said the women’s national team tapped into the social justice beliefs of the millennial generation.

Robbins rained on the Washington Nationals parade after they overcame early struggles to win baseball’s World Series.

The catcher Kurt Suzuki wore a “Make America Great Again” hat. The pitcher Sean Doolittle conspicuously stayed away. Doolittle, an activist who has worked with refugees, told The Washington Post that he could not support the president because he uses divisive rhetoric, mocks the disabled, does not respect gay rights and has a poor record on racial justice.

Robbins managed to talk about the NBA’s China controversy without mentioning basketball star NBA star LeBron James’ disgraceful kowtowing to the Communist regime.

Robbins his less sympathetic to protesters she disapproved of, like the Tea Party movement in 2009: "All of these tax day parties seemed less about revolution and more about group therapy.”