Washington Post sports columnist Jerry Brewer has some bad news for normal sports fans. “Sports escapism has been suspended,” he wrote on Aug. 6. “There is a chance the ol’ reliable expectation of games as breezy diversions may never return.”
He’s talking, of course, about the inescapable social justice posturing that’s now a feature of nearly every sports broadcast -- the kneeling, the bumper sticker jersey messages, the haughty pronouncements of LeBron James. As Brewer points out, “You can’t hold out hope for a college football season without learning about the players fighting for representation and fairness.” (AKA extorting schools and conferences.)
If that troubles you, take heart. Brewer is here to patiently explain why you’re wrong and guide you over to “the right side of history.”
Brewer acknowledges that, “I feel some sympathy for those who want sports simply to be sports again.” Big of him. But make no mistake: his is the only moral position, and he’ll brook no argument. “In a country that has turned public health protocols into politicized debate,” he laments, “what I see as clear human rights concerns somehow are turned into partisan issues.”
Got that? He understands the issues. You use them to launch partisan food fights.
His moral clarity is enviable: The woke millionaires on the court are “the justice-seeking side” pushing for a “good cause,” while the other side is engaged in “anti-justice boycotting” and “breathless overreaction.”
Hard to reconcile having “some sympathy” for people you label as “anti-justice,” but we all know bad children who just need guidance and a little discipline, and Brewer is a generous soul. He explains that sports are still “about 95 percent fun and games.”
It takes about 150 minutes to watch an NBA game, complete with the bells and whistles of TV presentation. Not even 10 of those minutes are reserved for social justice. So for as much as sports seem different this summer, they really just got a new haircut and changed their shirt color for a good cause. It’s still easy to get lost in the games, even if the jerseys and fields of play have statements on them. That can be seen as a taxation of joy or as an opportunity to mix enrichment with familiar pleasure.
Eat your vegetables, they’re good for you.
Then, trying to understand what makes the children misbehave, he muses:
If pregame protests or jersey messages are really too much for some people, it makes me wonder why they were drawn to the diverse world of sports in the first place. Was it pure escapism to concentrate on loving the game? Or was it just an effort to avoid the complexities of life by disappearing into a realm in which tradition, rules and order make everything seem tidy?
The answer is that it doesn’t matter why we like sports. What matters is we don't like what social justice warriors are doing to the games. Most Americans have never oppressed anyone in their lives. Most, if they stopped to think about it, would laugh at garbage notions like “systemic racism,” and plenty know Black Lives Matter is founded on a lie easily disproved by statistics. Some may be fine knowing that when they turn on the game they’re going to be showered with implicit contempt and slander, but some won’t.
Brewer says, “Take the 95 percent and rejoice.” But when the five percent in question is so poisonous, decent people may just leave the rest on the table.