"Will you keep politics out of sports, please. We like sports to be politics-free" pic.twitter.com/Mx3omxcNhu
— Craig Calcaterra (@craigcalcaterra) April 16, 2017
It is apparently now considered “political” to conspicuously display the flag and express support for the military at sporting events. The twit (is that the proper word here?) went on to vehemently defend his position when people reasonably questioned such idiocy, saying that the flag, “in and of itself isn’t always political. A two-acre flag with a military flyover is saying something very specific, however.” He continued his defense with the tired tropes about dissent and patriotism, and accusing sport leagues of manipulating people for political purposes. He even referred to the flag as just “a piece of fabric”. Way to really show your patriotic bona-fides there!
We heard a lot of this sort of talk during the Bush years, and it’s interesting it was kind-of out of vogue for the past eight years or so. I wonder why. But fear no longer, nuance is back baby!
It’s true, I think, that the giant flags, recognition of servicemembers, and “God Bless America” refrains can sometimes be a little over-the-top in a commercialized sort of way. But commercialization is sort-of baked into the cake when we’re talking about billion-dollar industries based around adults playing a game, don’t you think? Leagues do this sort of thing because the fans love it, and it reinforces the sport’s connection with Americana. After all, the saying “as American as baseball and warm apple pie” exists for a reason.
It’s also a two-way street. Besides the league benefiting from the goodwill of its association with patriotism, it is a great recruitment and goodwill-building opportunity for the military and first responders. It’s pretty well known that the military pays for many of these sorts of events precisely for those reasons, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
The relationship between leagues and the military is certainly enough fodder for discussion, but what about this idea that such displays are inherently political? I suppose in some sense, waving the flag or singing patriotic songs are political acts. But not in the partisan sense the twit seems to be getting at. Somewhere deep in his responses he complains that Republicans have adopted the flag as a partisan symbol. And that is where this idea goes off the rails.
It is not partisan to sing the anthem, wave the flag, honor veterans, or fly jets over stadiums. That some leftists are embarrassed by displays of patriotism tells you more about where their own priorities lie than others. Waving the flag doesn’t mean you agree with every policy or action the U.S. has ever taken, just as loving your parents or children doesn’t mean you think they are perfect. If being proud of your country, despite its mistakes and faults, embarrasses you, I think you need to re-evaluate your perspective.