There’s a famous old Woody Allen joke that: “those who can’t do, teach. And those that can’t teach, teach gym.”
Well here’s a modernized version of this old saw. Those who can’t do, write. And those who can’t write, write about sports.
One of the most amazing revelations about the shameful and unpatriotic antics by NFL players who are taking the knee or even lying on the ground stretching during the national anthem, has been the near-universal approval by sports journalists. The left has infiltrated the locker room, and sports commentators now all think they are social reformers and muckrakers. Fake news is now endemic on the sports pages too.
Exhibit A is the disgusting Sports Illustrated cover story called: “A Nation Divided, Sports United,” which glorified the insulting behavior of the NFL players and the blatant disrespect to those millions of heroes — black and white — who have served our country in the military. Apparently, Colin Kaepernick and his fellow kneelers are modern-day Jackie Robinsons. By the way, Jackie stood for the flag and the national anthem. So did other sports pioneers of racial equality like Jesse Owens and Arthur Ashe.
Now we have the sports pages and journals stoking the fires. When I was a kid the absolute cream of the crop for sports writing was in Sports Illustrated. The October issue is an ode to bad behavior and a celebration of professional athletes who insult the fans who pay their munificent salaries. The tone of nearly the entire issue is in the headline of the first story: “Stick to sports? Not possible when the passions stoked by protests and the president threaten to subsume the games themselves.”
Do the editors even realize this is a non sequitur? It is the protesters, not Donald Trump, who stoked these fires months ago, and it’s the very acts of protest that are subsuming the games themselves.
This is nothing new from Sports Illustrated. Nearly every issue since November 2016 takes gratuitous shots at Donald Trump. Reading this “sports magazine” is about as entertaining and informative as watching Rachel Maddow for a half an hour. The articles read as if they were written by The New York Times editorial board. Donald Trump is a racist, immigrant basher, xenophobe, and you know the tiresome trope.
Even worse has been the swift decline into the liberal sewer of the USA Today sports page. Once upon a time, you had to get USA Today for the sports section. Now the sports page barely has room to give you sports news — you know box scores or game summaries, or any in-depth coverage of the games — because the editors have to make room for left-wing social commentary.
Nearly every day is a sermon on race relations in America, income inequality, capitalism, Donald Trump, refugee policy, gay rights and on and on. The two lead features writers are Nancy Armour and Christine Brennan — and every time they publish their screeds, I keep thinking the mask will come off and it will be Hillary Clinton.
Ms. Armour regularly writes about the sins of capitalism and how it is “intertwined with racism.” She recently excoriated Tom Brady sermonizing that he “no longer gets a pass on his friendship with Donald Trump.” Why? Because, Ms. Armour tells us, “the country is boiling over in rage and indignation at Trump’s decision to turn America’s back on refugees.”
Actually, I don’t remember the country boiling over in rage. But this is a woman who tells us that the Trump campaign was “steeped in racism, bigotry, and misogyny.” Nancy baby, we get it: you don’t like Donald Trump. But the election is over. Your candidate lost. Get over it.
The larger question is: what does any of this have to do with sports for goodness sakes? And how is it that so-called sports writers can have such a long list of grievances?
Leftist Christine Brennan, who regularly calls Donald Trump”dreadful” says that it is an “imperative” role of the “sports journalists in the 21st century to “deal with the issues of our culture.” Actually, no. These opinions belongs on the op-ed page, not the sports page.
It isn’t the role of a sports writer to weigh in on President Trump’s actions in North Korea, or his immigration policies, or his stand on gay marriage. This is the ruination of sports entertainment. The writers who make their living writing about sports just don’t get it. Sports is an escape, a respite from the politics and the problems of the world. I think I speak for millions of sports fans: I don’t want to turn to the sports page and get lectured about race relations and I don’t care what Brittney Griner’s sexual orientation is or who she’s sleeping with.
I just want to find out if the Cubs won last night. I guess that makes me a bigot.
If Sports Illustrated and ESPN and NFL linebackers want to protest what an unjust and sexist society America is, they have every right to go to the public square and express themselves until the cows come home. All we can do as fans is exercise our freedom to turn them off — as millions of Americans are doing. After 40 years I finally canceled my subscription to Sports Illustrated. And I don’t read USA Today anymore because in good conscience I don’t want a penny of my money subsidizing the salaries of Nancy Armour and Christine Brennan.
If someone starts a politics-free sports magazine — that entertains me and informs me about, well, sports — it will make millions of dollars.
• Stephen Moore is a consultant with Freedom Works and a Washington Times columnist. He served as a senior economic analyst for the Trump campaign.