Jul 5, 2013, 2:30 PM EDT
Howard Bryant of ESPN takes a pretty gutsy tack for a Fourth of July column. He takes on patriotism at the ballpark. He starts by making an observation that, I hope anyway, everyone acknowledges to be valid:
The old conventions of sports leagues and fans coming to the ballpark to escape the problems of the world disappeared when the towers fell. Sports, which were once by demand of the paying customers and the league themselves a neutral oasis from a dangerous world, have since become the epicenter of community and national exhalation. The ballpark, in the time of two murky wars and a constant threat of international and domestic terrorism, has been for the last dozen years a place for patriotism. The industry that once avoided the complex world now embraces it, serving as the chief staging ground for expressions of patriotism, and has codified it into game-day identity.
A dynamic that was supposed to be temporary has become permanent.
But then Bryant questions why we engage in these ubiquitous acts of patriotism and what it all means. And whether doing so in such an obligatory manner has caused us to lose sight of the fact that (a) when we make our patriotism mindless, we lose an essential part of it, which is thoughtfulness; and (b) when we make our acts of patriotism obligatory we take away another essential thing: the freedom of dissent.
And, oh, by the way, sports had long been apolitical and now it’s clearly a place where a certain type of nationalist fervor, however benign in intent, is acceptable. Why, then, is political expression of other sorts so loudly shouted down? Why don’t we want to hear what athletes say about politics and freedom too?
Like I said: gutsy column. But the fact that we recognize such expressions as Bryant’s as “gutsy” sort of makes his point for him.
- Sandy Alderson is not going to “roll over” for Scott Boras and shut down Matt Harvey 64
- Dodgers are already fed up with 6.56 ERA-pitching, excuse-making Mat Latos 50
- And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights 58
- Bryce Harper walks in all four of his plate appearances, scores four runs 24
- ESPN pulls Curt Schilling off broadcasts for rest of regular season and Wild Card game 146
- David Ortiz is more likely to be boned in Hall of Fame voting for being a DH than for PED stuff 145
- And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights 74
- The Marlins are going to change everything except their biggest problem this offseason 53
- ESPN pulls Curt Schilling off broadcasts for rest of regular season and Wild Card game (146)
- Matt Williams puts up another strong performance in his quest to get himself fired (107)
- David Ortiz tweets his happiness about the Deflategate decision (101)
- Why Mike Mussina keeps getting hosed in the Hall of Fame voting (90)