I've never been a sports fanatic. In fact, I'm the kind of guy a lot of sports obsessives can't stand. I tend not to pay attention to anything until the playoffs, and even then it's entertainment more than passion. This can be a disadvantage in real life because, particularly among men, sports talk is a kind of safe space and common tongue all at once.
I've seen it a million times in
Other topics can play the same role, but none match the scale of sports.
I remember when
I have no interest in revisiting the specific controversy. Rather, I bring up the episode because I remember reading a great column by the very liberal
No, Dionne's objection was with injecting politics into sports.
"Most of us who love sports want to forget about politics when we watch games," he wrote. "Sports, like so many other voluntary activities, creates connections across political lines."
And then he added: "Politicizing everything from literature to music to painting and sports was once a habit of the left.
I'm not sure that was entirely true then, but it's definitely not true now. For instance,
He's gone on at tedious and sanctimonious length about the legitimate problem of police brutality and other Black Lives Matter talking points.
I think this is ludicrous on any number of fronts. Kaepernick isn't being asked to salute rogue cops, or even cops generally. He's being asked to show respect not just to the flag but to a nonpartisan custom. Instead he offers a blanket indictment of America itself and vows to hold his compliance hostage to his personal assessment of complicated social issues. That's not in a quarterback's job description any more than it is in a plumber's.
As Kaepernick's stunt has metastasized to other teams, the
My point is not that the issues athletes care about are illegitimate. Kaepernick is right that some issues are "bigger than football" -- but that is an argument for keeping them out of football! Religion is bigger than football too, which is why we try to keep it from intruding in public life in a divisive way.
Indeed, that's largely the point of America. This country was founded on the notion that politics should not govern every important issue in our lives. That is what liberty means, and that -- not police brutality -- is what the flag represents.
No wonder Kaepernick and his fans have such a problem with it.