Let me get this straight. An athlete can qualify for the 2021 Olympic Games, and then punctuate this incredible achievement by making pained faces of exasperation while turning her back on the flag as the National Anthem plays. And that’s okay.
Meanwhile another athlete can qualify for the Tokyo Olympics and have her accomplishment rendered null and void for “failing” a blood test that detected cannabis usage. And that’s not okay.
The question these headlines have created for those of us who from time to time feel like that curmudgeon who hates everything and everybody when it comes to the modern day world of sports, is how do we identify where the line is between right and wrong anymore?
Someone smarter than I (and yes, I realize that doesn’t really narrow it down much) once said “change isn’t hard, but resisting change sure is.” So as I find myself steamrolling headlong toward old age, I’m doing my damndest to acknowledge and accept the warp speed pace at which our world is changing these days.
But does being accepting of a changing world mean giving everybody a free pass for whatever type of behavior they choose to engage in? Hell no, and call me curmudgeon if you must, but I’m not signing up for that kind of laissez faire attitude just yet. So go ahead and send us your cards and letters decrying such old fashioned ideals (yeah, I know, it’s email nowadays — that was on purpose, kids), but to me if one of these athletes has to be tossed from our Olympic team, it really ought to be the one who openly disrespects the very team/country she will be representing.
And oh by the way, that doesn’t mean I’m against social justice or the people striving to make the world a more fair and equitable place for all (the excuse put forth as justification for the histrionics on the medal stand by the athlete in question). In fact, the equality dialogue engulfing our country these days is long overdue, desperately needed, and finally mainstream enough not to be easily dismissed or swept under the rug any longer.
However, maybe it’s that suppressed curmudgeon in me that asks why commitment to equality/social justice, and pride in our country have to be mutually exclusive. How about using the platform and notoriety that accompanies Olympic excellence to further a constructive dialogue on equality and systemic change among all Americans? I realize many consider such a suggestion to be pollyannaish, but shouldn’t there be some level of accountability to the institution an athlete willingly chooses to represent in international athletic competition? Just sayin’.
And what of the young woman who chose to use cannabis while dealing with the pain of losing her mother? A woman who accepted the results of her blood test unflinchingly, with no alibis or blaming of others. She just effin’ owned it, looking every one of us in the eye and reminding us that she’s just another perfectly imperfect human, like the rest of us. Yet she’s the one we are going to say can’t be an Olympian? If only she’d chosen to knock back a liter of vodka every night as a way of dealing with her sorrow. No worries there, right? Acceptable behavior, even for an Olympian. Not cannabis, though. Give me a break.
And if all that wasn’t enough to make me say “what the fuck” over and over this week, then we go and let that piece of shit rapist Bill Cosby out of jail? But this is a sports blog, so I’m just going to have to trust that there’s a horrific and eternal damning heading in the direction of America’s Dad, and here’s hoping whatever such fury may be, it reaches him very soon.
Back to sports:
*Maybe part of the reason I’m so out of sorts is because the first Subway Series game of the year was postponed due to inclement weather in the New York area. At least I can now look forward to two games on Sunday (even if they are of the seven-inning, farcical variety). And just a reminder for those of you not paying close attention — the first-place New York Mets will be visiting the fourth-place New York Yankees.
*Sticking with baseball, when Joe Girardi used to manage the Yankees, one of the highlights of that era was watching that stress-vein in the tightly wound Yankee skipper’s neck bulge whenever something would go wrong with his Bronx Bombers. I’m pleased to tell you that the Girardi vein-pop remains every bit as enjoyable today, as we watch the Phillies bullpen torch lead after lead while Joe grinds his teeth in the Philly dugout.
*Why is Tom Brady being pissed off at whatever team that chose not to sign him over a year ago suddenly big news? Didn’t Tommy win the freaking Super Bowl (again) with the team that did sign him? Next thing you know we’ll care about Brady’s golf game…
*I guess somebody finally played The Last Dance for Scottie Pippen. Either that or he’s just grown jealous of seeing his ex-wife getting all the headlines for preposterous statements and behavior.
*Who are these two asshole Paul brothers that seem to be parlaying celebrity boxing and 15 minutes of social media fame into a small fortune? Would you pay a hundred bucks right now to see them both get their blocks knocked off on Pay Per View? Yeah, me too.
*I’ve written frequently about how I no longer follow hockey. I can’t name a single skater currently on the New York Islanders roster. Yet somehow I was still bummed when the Isles were eliminated by Tampa.
*It’s starting to look like Serena Williams will never gets that elusive record-tying Grand Slam win she’s been seeking. That’s a shame, but shouldn’t diminish one iota what she’s accomplished over the past twenty-plus years. She’s done it on her terms, often while staring down major hostility from fans and the media. Here’s hoping she gets healthy between now and the U.S. Open and has one more exciting finals run left in her.
*On the other hand, if Novak Djokovic never won another match, let alone a Grand Slam title, I’d be just fine. Jackass.
*How did the Mets play first-place baseball while throwing out a M*A*S*H unit lineup every night, but now that their “stars” are healthy again they suck?
*Apologies to Geno the Sawx Fan, who has a perplexing and irrational dislike of Jacob deGrom, but we are watching the best of our generation every fifth day when deGOAT takes the mound (and yes, Geno, we are using the term “deGOAT” just to piss you off).
*Will the 2021 New York Yankees be the modern day version of the 1965 Yanks, who followed a World Series appearance in ’64 by finishing sixth, twenty-five games out of first? I sure hope so.
*How do the San Francisco Giants keep winning? I’ve written their fast start off as a fluke at least three times already, and here we are at the midyear point of the season and they still lead the best division in baseball. Hmmm…
*I guess I have to take Patrick Beverley off my “NBA players I like” list, huh? Yeah, his gutless shove of Chris Paul was one of the lamest displays of poor sportsmanship I’ve seen in a very long time. That being said, is Chris Paul by far the most annoying player in professional basketball, or what? Always flopping, whining, chirping…
*And yet when he opts out of his bloated contract after the Suns win the title this year (yes, folks, the Phoenix Suns will be NBA champs very soon), I don’t see any way Paul doesn’t become a New York Knick. And given the Knickerbockers history with such signings, look for Paul to be completely stripped of any semblance of hoops skill between now and training camp in the fall.
*I’m so tired of stories about spin rates and the different types of sticky stuff pitchers are doctoring balls with. If such rule-breaking really has been the primary culprit in offense being down this year, while strike outs are increasing exponentially, then I suppose it’s good MLB is cleaning it up. But enough already. Let’s play ball.
*I see LeBron is starring in a Space Jam remake? Like all comparisons between King James and Michael Jordan, my guess is LBJ’s new cinematic effort will not be nearly as good as the original, and way more annoying.
*Two weeks ago I’d never heard of Sha’Carri Richardson. Today she’s my favorite athlete.
Happy Independence Day!