New York Times sports columnist George Vecsey applauded the NBA's Phoenix Suns uniform protest of Arizona's strict new anti-immigration law in Saturday's "Walking Tentatively in Protester's Shoes," suggesting only that it didn't go far enough and even calling for Major League Baseball to boycott games in Arizona. The column also put in perspective the paper's long-time hypocrisy on athletes making political statements.
When the Phoenix Suns wore the name Los Suns on their jerseys Wednesday night, it was construed by many of their fans as a political statement against the new Arizona law regarding illegal immigrants.
As a political gesture, it fell far below the black gloves worn by two American sprinters in the 1968 Olympics. However, there definitely was a measure of criticism of the law from high up on the team -- including from the Suns' owner, Robert Sarver; the general manager, Steve Kerr; and players like Grant Hill, Amar'e Stoudemire and Steve Nash.
It was refreshing to hear reaction to current events from sports figures. It is easy to take pot shots at athletes and team officials for living in a bubble, isolated by money and fame. When athletes care about something, conservative or liberal, it is a sign they are alive.
Vecsey's stand is no surprise, coming from a newspaper that can't just let athletes play but tries to enlist them into pushing liberal social agendas. The Times ran an editorial on November 18, 2002, suggesting that Tiger Woods boycott The Masters golf tournament out of solidarity with women who aren't allowed to become members of Augusta National Golf Club, host of the tournament.
On the eve of The Masters, tournament host and Augusta National chairman Billy Payne delivered a surprise public lecture to golfer Tiger Woods, giving New York Times sports columnist George Vecsey a chance to again make liberal political hay from Augusta's immaculate green fairway in Thursday's "Thanks for the Tasteless Sermon."
They are worse than we knew.
The people who run the Masters are not just stubborn rich guys who don't want female members cluttering up their precious fairways, although that is bad enough.
When New-York based "Today" went looking for a local sports reporter to defend Barry Bonds the morning after he set the career home run record, it didn't turn to the New York Post, whose headline this morning reads JUNK BONDS: ‘SULTAN OF SYRINGE'. Nor was it likely that the designated hitter would be someone from the Daily News, whose back page screams "King of Shame." Instead, "Today" looked to the New York Times, and in particular to sports writer William Rhoden [pictured here with Matt Lauer], to embrace Bonds.
'TODAY' CO-ANCHOR MATT LAUER: You've been very critical of baseball actually leading up to this milestone for the way they've been wringing their hands trying to figure out what to do with this record. Barry Bonds you wrote, quote, "he will be baseball's king, it's emperor, it's czar." How are you feeling this morning?
NYT SPORTS REPORTER WILLIAM RHODEN: I think it's a great moment, Matt. It really is. It's an historic moment. The number's there, no matter. There's going to continue to be hand-wringing, but there's no hand-wringing in the Bonds household [proving what?] . . . It's just a tremendous accomplishment . . . I don't think anyone doubts that.