What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
There are a lot of things in this country that started with a valid need for them to exist, then they outgrew their usefulness and transmogrified into some sort of horrible, Bizzaro-world mutation. The labor unions that kept workers from being mangled in a sausage grinder now ensure a non-skilled laborer gets 43 bucks an hour for screwing the tops on tubes of toothpaste. Cable television rescued us from the rabbit-eared doldrums, and then became an unwatchable, 500-channel miasma of home shopping networks and reruns of “The Golden Girls. ” Now, “political correctness” has joined that list.
As a kid, I found sports to always be a refuge from this sort of scatology, but this was destroyed when the American sports media decided they were less interested in actual sports and more interested in being agents of “social justice.” Really, that is just a nice way of saying that the truth is longer welcome is sports journalism if it runs even the slightest risk of being deemed “offensive.”
Of course, there are some things that gave the sports media’s sanctimony a credible reason for its genesis. In my experience, that was represented by Al Campanis. If you don’t recall, Campanis was the general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers who was fired in 1987 after he said on television a few genuinely stupid things about blacks.
In Campanis’ case, he simply stuck his foot in his mouth and paid the price. But, it subsequent episodes, it was the sports media who seemed to beg for this sort of controversy, either by asking a completely loaded question or by doing a lot of self-serving hand-wringing over something nobody wanted to admit was true.
One only needed to wait less than a year for the first example. In 1988, a reporter asked then-CBS football analyst Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder about why “blacks were such superior athletes.” Snyder responds with the worst possible answer; one that was uncomfortably true.
The black is a better athlete to begin with because he’s been bred to be that way — because of his high thighs and big thighs that goes up into his back, and they can jump higher and run faster because of their bigger thighs. This goes back all the way to the Civil War when during the slave trading, the owner — the slave owner would breed his big black to his big woman so that he could have a big black kid.
Now, you have to picture the scenario here. Snyder was an “old-school” guy with really no inkling of the “politically correct” world in which he found himself; a world where reporters wait for a victim to have a few cocktails before springing the trap.
The next example comes in the form of former Cincinnati Reds’ owner Marge Schott. She made an easy target being she was not the sharpest knife in the drawer and she had a reputation for making controversial statements. So, during a 1996 interview with ESPN when she was asked about “the good things Hitler did,” nobody should have been surprised to hear the following bit of stupidity sprinkled with truth.
Everything you read, when he came in [to power] he was good…They built tremendous highways and got all the factories going…Everybody knows he was good at the beginning but he just went too far.
Schott was immediately accused of “praising Hitler” when in fact all she did was answer a loaded question. Even in her own apology for the comment, Schott stated that “I do not and have never condoned Adolf Hitler’s policies of hatred, militarism and genocide. Hitler was unquestionably one of history’s most despicable tyrants.” But nobody seems to want to remember that she didn’t get asked what she thought of the Nazi leader; rather the “good” things he did.
A few years later, hockey legend Bobby Hull befell the same fate. A Russian reporter, who didn’t speak English, inexplicably posed to him via a translator a similar question to the one ESPN asked of Schott. Back in America, the Associated Press quoted him as saying, “Hitler, for example, had some good ideas. He just went a little bit too far.” Again, nobody seemed to care that this was a loaded question that shared with the answer every possibility of being mistranslated.
Since being “politically correct” has been allowed to progress unchecked, it has arrived at the point where not only does one get castigated for being truthful, but for being exactly who one was hired to be.
Remember the short-lived tenure of Rush Limbaugh as an ESPN football analyst? Regardless of your opinion of Limbaugh, anyone who has ever listened to him would agree that he is controversial. This, of course, is exactly why ESPN hired him. Of course, the minute he says something controversial, ESPN sprints into hand-wringing mode and essentially forces him to resign for doing exactly that for which he was hired. Not to mention that the comments he made about Donovan McNabb and the NFL are as true today as they were when Limbaugh said them in 2003.
This brings us to what ESPN did to Tony Kornheiser on Friday. In response to his “offensive” comments about the eminently useless Hannah Storm, Kornheiser was suspended for two weeks by the network for commenting on Storm’s wardrobe choices.
Kornheiser, who is co-host of the popular show “Pardon the Interruption,” made his comments Friday, expressing chagrin at what Storm, 47, was wearing. Calling her outfit horrifying, the talk show host said Storm’s blouse was so tight that it looked like “sausage casing,” and that her skirt was “way too short for somebody” her age. According to Kornheiser, no woman in her late 40s (actually, he posited that Storm may be over 50) should be on the air in a “Catholic school plaid skirt.”
Guess what? He’s right. Nobody wants to see Storm showing off her eating-disorder physique while trying to pretend she isn’t nearly half a century old. The only people who could possibly enjoy the festival of pain she makes of a TV screen are those who are sexually aroused by talentless talking pencils.
More importantly, this is another case of somebody getting jammed up for being exactly what they are supposed to be. The “World Wide Leader” didn’t hire Limbaugh and Kornheiser to be shrinking violets; they hired them to be bomb-throwers. Face it; people don’t tune in to hear “My, what a lovely day we are having.” They tune in to hear “Here’s why (insert target here) sucks.”
Being wrapped in this sort of hypocritical sanctimony is why the American sports media, led by the “World Wide Leader,” has fallen into the morass of idiocy in which it now finds itself. Until sports journalists in this country are ready to get back to the business of sport rather than being arbiters of justice for some sort of convoluted thoughtcrime, they ironically will have the same lack of credibility that was intended for their victims.