Sanity Injection

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Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Political correctness reaches a new milestone

Posted by sanityinjection on August 22, 2017

Until today, I felt pretty certain that over the past couple of decades, I had witnessed every variation of political correctness, to the point that I could no longer be surprised by whatever lunatic nonsense is foisted upon us by those who believe in the right to never be offended.

Until today.

That’s when I read this story over at Outkick the Coverage. I encourage you to read the story, and the comments, yourself. I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t believe this actually happened at first. But let me summarize: In the wake of the unfortunate events that recently took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, ESPN was apparently very concerned about mentioning anything to do with the Confederacy during their broadcast of the college football game between William and Mary and the University of Virginia. How concerned, you ask? Enough that they re-assigned one of the broadcasters scheduled to call the game to a different game because of his name: Robert Lee.

That’s right, because the sportscaster happens to share his very common first and last name with the Confederacy’s legendary general, Robert E. Lee, whose statue was the focus of the protests in Charlottesville, ESPN thought someone might be offended by HIS NAME.

Incidentally, Mr. Lee does not appear to be any sort of white supremacist, seeing as how he’s an Asian-American fellow. But apparently, ESPN thinks just the sound of his name might be too triggering for some.

The phenomenal idiocy of this is almost too much to comprehend. How many people named Robert Lee do you think there are in this country? Should they all have stayed home for a week so as not to offend anyone by their existence? Should Robert G. Lee, professor of American Studies at Brown, have taken an immediate sabbatical so as to preserve the campus as a “safe space”? Should Robert Lee, the English golfer, have stayed off the links for a week out of extreme politeness? Should Florida Episcopal preacher Robert V. Lee have let someone else spread the word of God for a little while? If anybody at ESPN happens to be reading, here’s a whole list of folks you probably don’t want to mention on air for a while.

Hyperbole, yes. But I am merely illustrating the logical extension of the ridiculous notion that someone should be hidden from public view because they happen to share the same name as an unpopular historical figure. It is neither rational nor reasonable to order a society on the basis that you ought to be able to go through life never hearing the name of someone you don’t like! Germany has some of the strictest anti-racism laws around, but even they didn’t try to ban people from naming their kids “Adolf”.

It would be easy to write this off as a “cover-your-ass” overreaction by a TV network already struggling as a result of their own over-politicization. What is disturbing is not so much the stupidity or craven cowardice of ESPN brass, but rather the larger prevailing climate of political correctness that leads to this kind of idea not being laughed right out of the meeting room.

I respect those who feel that leaders of the Confederacy should not be honored on public property. I understand why people might find their statues offensive. But if a person is going to be thrown off the rails simply by hearing the name Robert Lee, or even the odious Nathan Bedford Forrest, then it is that person who has a problem, and it is not society’s job to cater to them. When we have created a climate where a major media outlet like ESPN genuinely fears they will be the target of protests if they let an Asian-American reporter named Robert Lee call a game in Virginia, then it is time for some man-made climate change.

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Posted in Current Events, Domestic News, Politics, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

New poll shows Native Americans are NOT offended by “Washington Redskins”

Posted by sanityinjection on May 20, 2016

Remember the big pressure campaign a couple of years ago to force the NFL’s Washington Redskins to change their allegedly “offensive” name? President Obama and 50 Democratic Senators proclaimed their support for this “civil rights movement”. And then, as with so many armchair liberal cause celebres, it just seemed to disappear; the professional protesters moved on to “Black Lives Matter” and suddenly the supposed legions of mortally offended Native Americans didn’t seem like such a compelling issue.

Now comes a clue as to why the pressure campaign hasn’t been revived. A new Washington post poll of 500 Native Americans across the country indicates that 9 out of 10 are not offended by the name “Washington Redskins”. 7 out of 10 said the word “redskin” was not offensive in general, and 8 of 10 said they would not be offended if a non-Native American called them by that term. These results mirror the findings of a previous poll in 2004. Naturally, Native American “leaders” continue to reject these poll findings, as will the mostly rich, white, left-wing politicians who were the prime movers behind the whole issue. (Never mind that these same politicans spend virtually no time advocating for the things that Native Americans say they need, like decent schools.)

The whole thing would actually be comical if it weren’t for the giddy participation of the mainstream media in whipping up hysteria to aid in this phony campaign. (In this regard, kudos to the Washington Post, which remains a faint glimmer of some journalistic integrity amongst the sad detritus of formerly respectable left-wing newspapers, for publishing this poll. See also a thoughtful WashPost op-ed on the issue here.) It should be of concern that the sources from which most Americans still get their news are demonstrably more interested in pushing an ideological political agenda than in any kind of factual reporting. You need look no further than the recent New York Times attack piece against Donald Trump, which went to a great deal of effort to characterize Trump as a misogynist based on his pattern of hitting on women as a rich single man. Keep in mind this is the same publication that consistently defended Bill Clinton for sexually harrassing and having sex with women as a rich married man. See Camille Paglia’s excellent destruction of this pathetic propaganda here.

Meanwhile, if sports teams’ use of cliches offensive to Native Americans is the issue, how come there hasn’t been any fuss at all about the Cleveland Indians’ continued use of the “Chief Wahoo” logo? Why hasn’t their trademark been revoked? Answer: Because the Cleveland Indians kissed the ring: Whenever anybody complains, they hide Chief Wahoo for a while, using alternate logos and uniforms, until the subject dies down. This appeases the professional Left, because what they really want is not actual civil rights change so much as acknowledgement of their power and righteousness. Kiss their asses and they’ll let you off with a slap on the wrist; dare to suggest that the emeperor has no clothes, as Redskins owner Dan Snyder has done, and you reap the whirlwind of attacks from their subservient media allies.

The point is not that the Washington Redskins or their owner, a wealthy successful man and organization, are some kind of sob story. The point is the one made so famously by pastor Martin Niemoller. With apologies to him: “First they came for the Washington Redskins, and I said nothing, because I was not a Redskins fan.” One day it’s a sports team. The next day it’s climate change “deniers”. The target changes with the wind, but the tactics are the same. Always ask yourselves: Cui bono? (Who benefits?)

Posted in Domestic News, Politics, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Football should be played on grass, period.

Posted by sanityinjection on March 18, 2010

When artificial turf playing fields were first introduced they were hailed as a great breakthrough. They allowed sports such as football to be played indoors, or on fields that held up better in snow or rain, and promised to save money on field maintenance as well.

However, in the 80s and early 90s, it was alleged that these AstroTurf fields led to more injuries to players because of the hard surface and players’ shoes catching in the turf and sticking rather than ripping up a divot. The 90s saw a movement among NFL teams away from turf and back to natural grass.

Then a new generation of artificial turf was developed, combining a springy rubber surface with strands of artificial grass designed to behave more like a natural field. This “FieldTurf” also has been touted as being environmentally friendly because it can be made from recycled tires. Since 2000, it has been adopted for many football fields from high school up to the pros, including 9 NFL stadiums, especially for indoor facilities where grass was not a viable option. Again, the artifical surface promised to save money on maintenance.

But now the injury argument has resurfaced. After studying six years of NFL games,  an NFL panel has concluded that a particularly serious type of injury – to the anterior curcial ligament or ACL – is 88 percent more likely on FieldTurf than on grass. Also, serious ankle sprains were 32 percent more likely on FieldTurf.

Defenders of FieldTurf point out that there could be a number of contributing factors such as what type of shoes are being worn on the turf.  But if you ask the players themselves, their opinion is clear: Their 4 favorite NFL fields to play on are all grass – despite the widely shared view that a turf field facilitates extra yardage for offensive skill players.

Also, one of the main reasons for the development of artificial turf is disappearing. With modern stadiums that feature retractable roofs, it has become possible to maintain grass fields in an indoor facility, as Arizona and Dallas have demonstrated.

Of course, stadiums with FieldTurf are not suddenly going to rip it out and replace it with grass, at significant expense. But I believe that for a new stadium, or one that needs to replace its current surface, the arguments for grass are compelling. The sport began on grass and was played exclusively on grass for decades. Modern technology is better put to use making grass fields better and easier to maintain than trying to invent substitutes for what nature does best – growing grass.

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

On this issue, I agree with President Obama!

Posted by sanityinjection on March 17, 2010

I may not agree with the President on a lot of things, but we are in substantial agreement when it comes to March Madness:

President Obama’s Bracket (Courtesy ESPN.com)

The President and I both predict Kansas will defeat Kentucky in the championship game. Our Final Four are the same except that he has Villanova in the South where I have Baylor. I view this as a good sign since President Obama correctly predicted last year’s champion.

Few experts appear to be picking #1 seeded Duke to reach the Final Four despite what is viewed as an easy draw. That reflects a record gained at the expense of an unusually weak ACC this year and a failure to notch many impressive out-of-conference wins.

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Anything you can do, we can do better? USA hockey defeats Canada

Posted by sanityinjection on February 22, 2010

So much to write about today, but let’s start with the really important stuff. Yesterday’s victory by the US Olympic hockey team over Canada was a very big deal, indeed, for both North American countries. It marks the first time the US team has defeated Canada at the Olympics since 1960 – half a century ago.

However, the impact is arguably greater in Canada, where hockey is more than a sport – it is seen as a fundamental aspect of the nation itself, similar to the American trio of “Mom, baseball, and apple pie.” While the Canadian team does not always win gold at the Olympics, being defeated in the preliminary round by its larger southern neighbor hurts because it hits at issues of Canadian identity and the relationship between the two countries. In many ways, Canada functions as a sort of “little brother” of the US. Until now, Canadians could reassure themselves that despite many areas of US dominance, Canada was still better than the Yanks at its national sport of hockey.

And yet, as Canada begins a round of soul-searching, it is important not to overreach in drawing conclusions. Some in the US are already referring to the game as the “Second Miracle on Ice”, but this victory of experienced American NHL players over their experienced Canadian NHL teammates hardly compares with the 1980 US squad of college players defeating the seasoned Soviet professional team. (If the North American Olympic teams were still made up of amateurs, I would bet Canada would still have a decisive advantage over the US.) Canada remains in the medal hunt and is rightly considered an extremely dangerous and tough team.

It is also important to recall the disadvantage that Canada faces in trying to compete with the much larger and richer US in virtually any area. Given enough time and proper application of resources, it is practically inevitable that the US will eventually prevail.

But does this mean that Canada must be resigned to becoming the 51st US state, as it is sometimes jokingly called? Hardly. Ironically given the hockey result, the Vancouver Games have seen a tremendous flowering of Canadian patriotism. The Canadian crowds, known in the past for being polite and a bit reserved, have waved their flags and cheered their country’s teams as vigorously as the Americans do when the games are held in the US, to the point of reducing a Danish curler not used to the noise level to tears. And the Canadian athletes have responded by ending the country’s gold medal drought on its home soil. In fact, at a Canada curling match yesterday with the game on the line at the end, the crowd spontaneously broke out into the national anthem “O Canada” and inspired their curler to throw the winning shot – an occurrence that is without precedent in Canadian history.

In fact, there are still plenty of areas where Canada can hold its head up high in comparison to its neighbor to the south. Canada rightly prides itself on its success in preserving its amazing natural resources and wildlife. It also enjoys a much more admirable record of respecting native peoples and honoring its agreements with them. Canadians enjoy a reputation around the world as a kind, generous, and friendly people. Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Calgary all ranked among the top 30 cities in the world in quality of life in 2009 (all higher that the top-rated US city, Honolulu), reflecting a worldwide perception that Canada has quietly managed to achieve a nice balance of factors that make it a very desirable place to live – just ask the approximately 250,000 people who every year give Canada one of the highest per capita immigration rates in the world.

So, while the US may well be singing the lyrics of the Irving Berlin song “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better” to their Canadian neighbors in the wake of their hockey upset and their overall dominance of the Olympic medal count so far, the verdict is far from decided. Until the day when Canadian colleges and universities start recruiting hockey players from the US rather than the other way around, Canada will still be known as the home of hockey.

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Thoughts on Super Bowl XLIV

Posted by sanityinjection on February 8, 2010

A few thoughts in the aftermath of the New Orleans Saints’ upset victory last night:

Drew Brees played very well, and no single player is more deserving of the MVP award, not to mention the recognition as a top-flight quarterback he has long deserved. Yet, in a game touted as a matchup between two high-powered offenses, the truth is it was the Saints’ defense that won the game, with multiple goal-line stops of the much-vaunted Colts’ offense, and of course the interception that sealed the game. None of what Brees did would have mattered if the Colts had been allowed to convert on their drives. The age-old saying “Defense wins championships” was no less true in this Super Bowl than it has been in most of them.

In turn, much of the credit for the inspired play of the defense should go to Saints head coach Sean Payton and his defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. The Saints are not loaded with household names on defense – linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive back Darren Sharper being perhaps the best known until yesterday. But the Saints have done a tremendous coaching job with this unit, which has quitely played very well all season, and was particularly well prepared over the last couple of weeks for the supposedly unstoppable Colts offense. The Saints worked on facing the no-huddle and on blitz packages designed to put just enough pressure on Peyton Manning to give the Saint’s secondary a chance to make plays. Which is exactly what happened.

Finally, Payton deserves credit for some key decisions. The onside kick to start the second half was not only a bold move, but an unprecedented one in Super Bowl history. Payton correctly judged that it was worth the risk of giving up good field position to the Colts, given that Peyton Manning had just proven he didn’t need it by engineering a 96-yard drive. Then, the successful challenge of the 2-point conversion play. Make no mistake about it: The Saints players executed well on the field, but the roadmap to victory was drawn by Sean Payton and his staff. They outcoached the Colts, who have practically bragged about the fact that their head coach is basically just a  cipher for Peyton Manning. Manning calls the plays and runs the practices, and he does it well, but I think the Colts coaches relied on him too much and failed to game plan well enough for the Saints.

That is not to criticize Manning, whose one ill-timed interception should not obscure a good performance on his part. The Colts overall played a good game; they did not lose the Super Bowl so much as the Saints won it. Media members who are reviving whispers of Manning being a “choke artist” should be ashamed of themselves. Peyton Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play the game, and deserves to be mentioned alongside names like Montana, Young, Elway, and Staubach. Two days ago, sports analysts were debating whether he may be the best ever at the position. Yesterday’s result should not stifle that debate. If you doubt, go back and look at the stats from previous Super Bowls and see how many interceptions were thrown by the *winning* quarterbacks.

Rather, one might ask if a greater commitment to the running game by the Colts might have helped to keep the Saints’ offense off the field. Running backs Addai and Brown performed well when called upon, and the offensive line run blocks well. Surely the Colts did not draft Brown just to take fake handoffs from Manning.

Overall, the quality of the football on the field was high. There were few penalties, and only the one turnover which is rather remarkable. I would suggest that this had something to do with the fact that the #1 ranked teams with the best records in each conference were facing off against each other – no wild card teams or improbable Cinderellas here. Though you do have to like the back story of the Saints and the city of New Orleans.

For me, the enduring image that I will take away from Super Bowl XLIV will be that of Drew Brees after the game, surrounded by the celebrations, choosing to share his moment not with the crowd but with his infant son, conversing with him and kissing him affectionately as if he was home on his living room couch and not, for the moment, the center of the modern universe.  Brees’s son of course could not have had any understanding of what was going on, but Brees’ choice says a lot about what his priorities are, and set a strong example for millions of other men watching: Family is more important than anything else. If we learn nothing else from Super Bowl XLIV, let it be so much.

Posted in Current Events, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Florida’s Tim Tebow to star in pro-life Super Bowl ad

Posted by sanityinjection on January 27, 2010

It’s been a while since there was anything controversial about the commercials aired during the Super Bowl. But this year promises to be different.

Even if you don’t follow college football, you have probably heard the name Tim Tebow. Star quarterback for the University of Florida, Tebow is the first player ever to win the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore and the first to both rush and pass for 20 touchdowns in a season.

Now set to enter the NFL draft this spring and begin his professional career, Tebow has made an unusual choice. He has agreed to star in a Super Bowl ad sponsored by conservative Christian group Focus on the Family. The ad tells the story of Pam Tebow (Tim’s mother)’s difficult pregnancy, during which she was advised by doctors to have an abortion to protect her own health. She refused, and gave birth to Tim.

There are two interesting aspects to this ad. First is the fact that nobody can remember a political issue ad such as this airing during the Super Bowl before. CBS – the network carrying the game this year – used to have a longstanding policy against “controversial” ads, but they have since loosened their rules. Except during a Presidential primary year, there’s rarely anything big going on politically when the Super Bowl is played, so there’s little incentive to spend the megabucks to pay for such an ad. Needless to say, pro-choice groups are lobbying CBS to kill the ad; surprisingly, CBS appears to be standing firm for the moment.

The second question is whether this is a good decision by Tebow. Well known at school as a devout Christian, no one doubts the sincerity of his motivation. But the NFL tries hard to avoid political controversy. Tebow and whatever team he ends up playing for will want fans to be eager to buy a Tebow jersey regardless of their political views. If taking a strong stand on this issue alienates half the fan base, that will cost Tebow and the NFL real money. I could even imagine certain teams rating Tebow lower on their draft boards over something like this.

Of course Tebow should not have to forego the right to speak his views simply because he plays football. There are many, many NFL players who are pro-life and also quite public about their Christian faith. But there is a difference between answering questions honestly – like beauty pageant contestant Carrie Prejean did – and going out of your way to shove your views in everyone’s face, like Barbra Streisand. Focus on the Family and its leader James Dobson have been particularly prone to controversy in the past. Choosing to associate yourself with them for your first foray into politics is like choosing to associate with Al Sharpton for your first foray into civil rights.

What do you think? Is it a good idea to have these kinds of ads during the Super Bowl? Is Tebow doing the right thing by speaking out?

Posted in Current Events, Politics, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

I don’t think Mark McGwire is all that sorry.

Posted by sanityinjection on January 12, 2010

Yesterday the sports world was rocked with the stunning admission by former baseball star Mark McGwire that he did in fact use steroids and human growth hormones during his record-setting career.

That’s sarcasm, of course.  I doubt that anyone who ever saw McGwire in his prime wasn’t already convinced he had used steroids. How else to explain the very sudden increase in his muscle mass – and correspondingly in his home-run hitting –  partway through his career?

I think I might respect McGwire more if he hadn’t fallen all over himself in a paroxysm of false remorse. He even choked up during his press conference, thinking about all the people he’d let down through his behavior. Um, yeah, forgive me, but I’m not buying it.

I’ll hold my breath until I see McGwire returning all the money he made during those drug-tainted seasons and petitioning the league to throw out the records he set. While he’s at it he can reveal all the people who provided him with the drugs so they can be exposed and prevented from continuing their illicit trade. And I’ve no doubt he’ll be contacting the minor league players who never got a chance to make it to the majors while he was cheating his way to the top.

Which is more likely: that McGwire decided to come forward now out of a genuine upwelling of remorse, or because he is about to begin a coaching job with Major League Baseball and knew he would be outed by someone else if he didn’t do it himself? And which is more insulting to baseball fans: that McGwire thought fans were dumb enough to believe him when he lied and said he didn’t use steroids, or that he thinks they’re dumb enough to believe him now when he says he’s sorry?

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

2009 in review

Posted by sanityinjection on December 29, 2009

Now why would I go and write a year in review column when Dave Barry’s already done it for me? It’s long, but it’s a must-read – it actually gets funnier as it goes along.

And if you find yourself having trouble recalling which things actually happened and which are jokes – well, that’s sort of the point:

http://www.miamiherald.com/living/columnists/dave-barry/v-fullstory/story/1397654.html

Posted in Current Events, Domestic News, Foreign Affairs, Politics, Sports | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

PC police suspend LA sports announcers

Posted by sanityinjection on November 29, 2009

Two sports broadcasters who cover the terminally awful Los Angeles Clippers basketball team were recently suspended for comments they made about a member of the visiting Memphis Grizzlies team who is from Iran.

I started reading the story and was waiting to find out exactly what offensive thing they had said about Grizzlies’ center Hamed Haddadi. I was expecting to read that they had joked about him being a terrorist or made some derogatory remark about Islam. Imagine my astonishment, then, when I got to the end of the story and found out that what had earned the duo a one-game suspension and the opportunity to profusely apologize to Haddadi (through a translator, since Haddadi speaks little English) was precisely this:

  • They mispronounced the word “Iranian.”
  • They expressed surprise that any Iranian nationals play in the NBA.
  • They jokingly compared Haddadi’s looks to the character “Borat”.
  • They complimented Haddadi’s basketball moves.

Seriously? That’s offensive and discriminatory? The only thing that could possibly be offensive is the Borat reference, and that’s pretty much par for the course as far as jokes made at the expense of visiting players. The “Borat” character isn’t Iranian or even Muslim.

Apparently all it took was one person with too much time on their hands who complained to the network to shift the PC police into hyperdrive and send these two announcers into full hand-wringing mode. To his credit, Haddadi, when thoroughly informed as to what had been said about him, didn’t see it as a big deal at all. (In his country, ethnic/religious discrimination generally involves beatings and torture, so you’ll forgive him for his failure to be outraged by a couple of dumb TV comments.) Nor did the Grizzlies organization find the matter worthy of a formal complaint. But hey, it’s Los Angeles, the third most enlightened city in California, so naturally the horse must be beaten to death.

I would have thought this matter would have been eclipsed  by the shocking revelation that somebody actually watches Clippers games on TV all the way until the end, and by the further importance of seeking mental health counseling for that individual rather than taking seriously any complaints from that quarter.

Posted in Domestic News, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »