Ever since 2016 when Colin Kaepernick started taking a knee, inspiring a growing number of athletes to become political activists, the media has happily encouraged this trend.
Politicized tweets from Kaepernick, Lebron, and other athletes? Great, a hopeful sign that today’s young role models are taking an interest in politics and the community. If their posts went too far, like when running back Isaiah Crowell Instagramed an image of a police officer being beheaded with a knife? Unfortunate perhaps, but he suffered no penalties, sanctions, or suspension for his actions.
But as we learned last week, the media has had a sudden change of heart and has decided that some athletes need to stick to just sports. Last week three different athletes drew the media's ire. You, I’m sure, can guess why.
The first controversy began when an old 2013 Instagram message from Red Sox Slugger J.D. Martinez surfaced, with him attributing an erroneous quote to Hitler saying, “To conquer a nation, first disarm its citizens.” When this hit the news cycle the media gave Martinez more attention (almost all negative) than anything he has done on the playing field this season. It should be noted, Martinez is having an MVP-type season.
The part his critics pushed Martinez on wasn’t that the quote from Hitler wasn’t real, but that he supported the right to bear arms. Martinez, backed into a corner by rabid reporters, stood his ground saying, “I love my country. I stand by the Constitution and I stand by the Second Amendment.”
Next, we had golfing legend Tiger Woods raked over the coals by the media over something he said. His thought crime? Woods had the audacity to say the following regarding President Trump, “He's the president of the United States. You have to respect the office. No matter who is in the office, you may like, dislike personality or the politics, but we all must respect the office.”
ESPN’s Max Kellerman led the mob, going on a rant that in part had him bloviating the following, “And it either holds in contempt the intelligence of people who hear it or else it’s just a stupid thing to say.” Of course, one would expect nothing less from Kellerman, when last year a banner was unfurled at Fenway Park by some fans that read, “Racism is as American as Baseball,” Kellerman agreed with this sentiment on air.
Then came newly acquired Chicago Cubs second baseman Daniel Murphy.
Known for his bat, Murphy has had to play defense. When he was traded the media dredged up an old quote of his from 2015 on homosexuality that he gave after meeting Billy Bean of Major League Baseball. Bean, who is an ex-player and is gay, is Major League Baseball’s Ambassador for Inclusion.
Murphy, who is described as a devout Christian, said in 2015, "I disagree with his lifestyle. I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual. That doesn't mean I can't still invest in him and get to know him. I don't think the fact that someone is a homosexual should completely shut the door on investing in them in a relational aspect. Getting to know him. That, I would say, you can still accept them but I do disagree with the lifestyle, 100 percent."
Being traded to the Cubs set off a controversy from his 2015 quote again. Interestingly, Cubs General Manager, Jed Hoyer, intimated he spoke with Bean prior to the trade to see if the he was OK with the Cubs acquiring Murphy. Have we gotten to the point where teams need approval to add a traditional Christian, Muslim, or Jew to a sports team roster because they exposed their religious views?
What we can say for sure is that in 2018 free speech is for all in America, but if you choose to exercise this right and your comments don’t follow a certain dogma, whether it is Google, Twitter, or the sports world, there are those who will try to shut it down.
Matthew Kastel is a 25-year veteran of working as an executive in the world of sports, including professional teams, organizations, and some of the largest vendors in the industry. Matt has also written two novels and teaches and lectures at universities on the business of sports. For more information you can visit his website at thirdstrikeproductions.com. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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