The Safe Zone
Jay Nordlinger has an interesting column on the politicization of sports writing. As card-carrying members of our liberal media, I have no doubt that sports writers skew liberal, and sure enough, Nordlinger digs up a few damning examples (“The [Eagles’] offensive numbers are poor, but if you really want a scary, my-daughter-married-a-Republican moment, take out the Detroit game and look at them again.”).
A few of these excerpts are more of a stretch, however. Take this line: “Another Sports Illustrated writer was sizing up Heisman prospects, ranking them, 1 to 10. He said he ‘had more trouble picking the No. 10 candidate than Sarah Palin had choosing a Supreme Court ruling she opposed.'”
Or this one: “[He] remains as unpopular among non-Spurs as Dick Cheney is among Democrats, Independents, Americans with no political affiliation, a growing number of Republicans, the great majority of the world population as well as that poor guy he filled with buckshot.”
Or this one: “A column about basketball confessed error: ‘What could I possibly have been thinking when I picked the Knicks to finish sixth in the East? . . . Dick Cheney was more accurate in his prediction that we would be greeted as liberators.'”
Now, it’s undoubtedly true that Sarah Palin was unable to name a single Supreme Court precedent she opposed during an interview. It is also true that Dick Cheney is incredibly unpopular. It is also true that Cheney’s predictive record on Iraq doesn’t look very good in hindsight. Are sports writers now barred from using (accurate) political metaphors because they offend Republican political sensibilities?
I hate to quibble, but it’s a telling point. Like every other movement fanatic, Nordlinger is simply unwilling to acknowledge facts that are both objectively true and detrimental to the Republican Party. So instead of confronting an unpleasant reality, he lashes out at the messenger. Mocking Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin is popular because both figures are faintly ridiculous. As a general rule, sports writers should avoid political commentary because they probably don’t know what they’re talking about, but attacking columnists for referencing incidents that are already embedded in the popular consciousness is a pointless exercise.