Michael Sam showed his wares in the NFL meat market, rather the National Football League Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Jason Collins played basketball for the Brooklyn Nets and the sun still rose in the east and set in the west and the earth still orbits the Sun. Life for the average person hasn’t changed at all because two gay athletes are working at their chosen careers.
But having Sam and Collins at work was supposed to upset the balance of the universe. At least that was the thought of some people. Sam’s Indianapolis appearance has caused one K Street lobbyist to find Congressional members to come up with a bill that would make sure Sam would never play in the NFL.
Neither Sam nor Collins has changed anything other than they are gay athletes but that hasn’t stopped the television pundits and the radio talk show hosts from babbling. It in a way is sort of 2001 speak in sports talk babble when Vince McMahon threatened the football world when he and General Electric, Dick Ebersol and others launched the XFL.
There was an outcry from academia and TV punditry. The problem with TV punditry and radio talk is that so many make so many stupid, inane and vacuous statements that it is hard to keep up with the babble but George Will never disappoints when it comes to remarkably clueless statements.
In 2001, University of Chicago economist Allen Sanderson hoped the XFL failed because he didn’t want the bar of entertainment to be lowered and while the conservative columnist and TV talking head Will worried that the XFL “will continue the “further coarsening of America”.
Funny thing that happened in the further coarsening of America. The XFL failed and it wasn’t because of the lack of interest. General Electric through NBC Sports President Ken Schanzer pulled the plugged on the money losing endeavor in part because he or GE didn’t want a rival, the Walt Disney Company’s ESPN, as a TV partner in 2002. It was a corporate decision to end the league and unfortunately for Sanderson and Will, they were both out of touch then.
Another funny thing about sports and Jason Collins. While there is some outrage with Collins being gay and therefore he should not be playing in the NBA according to small segment of society, Jason Collins’s #98 Brooklyn Nets jersey was the top selling piece of laundry in the NBA store.
That cannot be good news for Jack Burkman, the owner of the Burkman Associates, a Washington lobbyist.
Burkman has decided that Michael Sam is not good for the NFL or for American morals. This self-appointed guardian of society put out a statement on Monday which sounded a lot like George Will in 2001.
“We are losing our decency as a nation. Imagine your son being forced to shower with a gay man. That’s a horrifying prospect for every mom in the country. What in the world has this nation come to?
“If the NFL has no morals and no values, then Congress must find values for it.”
The last statement is quite a stretch because if Burkman is really worried about morality the NFL is the last place in sports where you would find people preaching practices to the masses.
When McMahon and GE started the XFL in 2000 with a 2001 kickoff, Burkman’s morally righteous NFL had some moral bankruptcies. Rae Carruth, Ray Lewis and Mark Churma had major legal problems and O. J. Simpson was still a topic of conversation six years after the White Bronco chase.
Burkman hasn’t really paid too much attention to the NFL or is just plain uninformed. U-T San Diego has a running tote board of NFL players and executive arrests since 2000 and the website takes up an awful lot of bandwidth. Some of the names on NFL rosters in the past year and a half include accused murderer Aaron Hernandez, Josh Brent, who was accused and found guilty of DUI manslaughter in the death of his teammate Jerry Brown in 2012 and Jovan Belcher who killed himself in front of Kansas City Chiefs front office and coaching staff members after shooting and killing his girlfriend and the mother of his child in December 2012..
The NFL also will be monitoring locker rooms more diligently after the Wells report on the mayhem in the Miami Dolphins locker room. The latest from that issue had Richie Incognito, the ringleader of the mayhem, taking a baseball bat to his car.
There have been dozens of arrests since the 2013 Super Bowl was played in Indianapolis in the past calendar year.
The NFL is hardly a bastion of morality but Burkman and his ilk think otherwise.
The NFL will more than likely play the 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. There seems to be some hard feelings between the league, the Arizona Cardinals and Glendale, Arizona for not putting all out for next year’s game. the league wants as much cash out of Glendale as possible and Glendale, a municipality that is paying to keep an NHL team in town and has paid for a Chicago White Sox-Los Angeles Dodgers training facility and kicks into the Glendale Cardinals football stadium, is balking at some of the NFL demands.
It would have been very easy for the NFL to pull out of Glendale had Arizona Governor Jan Brewer not vetoed SB 1062, a bill that would have allowed businesses that asserted their religious beliefs the right to deny service to gay and lesbian customers.
The Glendale Super Bowl host committee was one of the businesses that urged Brewer to veto the legislation. Arizona elected officials did say that the Super Bowl played a role in the decision. Arizona is the only state in the union ever to lose a scheduled Super Bowl.
The National Football League has a history of pulling a Super Bowl from Arizona and putting the political weight of the entity known as the NFL into a lobbying position. Arizona “celebrates” Martin Luther King Day as the result of direct intervention by the National Football League in terms of dangling a Super Bowl in front of voters. In 1987, newly elected Arizona Governor Evan Mecham’s first act in his new job was to erase Martin Luther King Day from the Arizona calendar as an official state holiday. That decision set off a boycott of the state with entertainers like Stevie Wonder refusing to perform in any venue in Arizona.
Governor Mecham’s reasoning was simple. The Arizona legislature in 1986 and Governor Bruce Babbitt, in Mecham’s opinion, created the holiday illegally.
The National Football League, in an attempt to help the Phoenix Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill to sell more seats after he misread the Phoenix-area market following the move of his Cardinals from St. Louis to Tempe in 1988, awarded Tempe the January 31, 1993 Super Bowl. But Mecham’s decision created a number of problems for the league, specifically the National Football League Players Association was not too keen on playing the NFL’s showcase game in a state where a governor took away the holiday and the action was supported by Senator John McCain.
In 1989, the Arizona state legislature approved a law making Martin Luther King Day a state holiday but voters needed to approve the measure. In 1990, Arizonans went to the polls and rejected the making Martin Luther King Day a state holiday. Shortly after the voters said no, the NFL said no to Arizona and pulled the January 31, 1993 game from Tempe.
The National Football League after pulling the 1993 game went back to Arizona and laid the cards out on the table telling voters if they approved the holiday in a November 1992 vote, the NFL would award the next available Super Bowl to Tempe. Arizona voters approved the 1992 ballot initiative and five months later the NFL lived up to their part of the bargain and granted Tempe the January 28, 1996 game.
Burkman needs to learn more about before stating that the NFL is as pure as Caesar’s wife.
Sam and Collins are going nowhere. There are more important things for Congress to work on than discriminatory legislation although you wonder about some politicians and what their goals really are for the people who elected them. But that’s a political science debate and one that should engage George Will. After all, it’s always fun to see what this respected TV pundit has to say about the coarsening of America.
Evan Weiner can be reached at [email protected]. His e-book, “The Business and Politics of Sports, Second Edition” is available (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/365489 ) and his e-books, America’s Passion: How a Coal Miner’s Game Became the NFL in the 20th Century, (https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/americas-passion-how-coal/id595575002?mt=11 ), From Peach Baskets to Dance Halls and the Not-so-Stern NBA (https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/from-peach-baskets-to-dance/id636914196?mt=11 ) and the reissue of the 2005 book, The Business and Politics of Sports (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/business-and-politics-of-sports-evan-weiner/1101715508?ean=2940044505094) and reissue of the 2010 e-book The Business and Politics of Sports, Second Edition (https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/business-politics-sports-selection/id771331977?mt=11 ) are available from e-book distributors globally. 2014 e-book, sports business 2010-14(https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/393652). The e-books are available from e-book distributors globally.