Sports Political Correctness

Mike Moffett

 by Mike Moffett
Weirs Times Columnist

Jordyn Bihon
Jordyn Bihon

 Some high schools allow seniors to submit yearbook photos that include props—including sports props. A baseball player may hold a bat, or a golfer a golf club.
In Jordyn Bihon’s case, it involved holding a bow. No arrow. Just a bow, as Jordyn’s passion was archery, which happens to be an Olympic sport. But officials at Pennsylvania’s Derry Area High School got the vapors and nixed Jordyn’s photo, claiming the bow was a “weapon.”
This then raises the question as to why archery is taught in that school’s gym classes—but logic and common sense seem to be in short supply in Derry.
This case is yet another example of political correctness (POLCO) creeping further into our sports culture. We addressed the Indian/Native American sport symbol issue earlier, so let’s look at POLCO in sports media.
Take Mike Ditka. The football Hall-of-Famer was fired by ESPN shortly after Ditka called Barack Obama “the worst president ever.” Coincidence? I think not.
Take Curt Schilling. ESPN fired him after Schilling came out on Facebook in support of North Carolina’s controversial laws regarding transgender bathrooms.
Take Rush Limbaugh. ESPN fired him because he included some spirts sociology in his comments about African-American quarterbacks.
Notice a trend, here?

POLCO
Sports talk can be loud and offensive. But POLCO comes down hard on those whose talk doesn’t toe the liberal line. Author and sportscaster Dylan Gwinn blew the whistle on his profession with his book “BIAS IN THE BOOTH: An Insider Exposes How Sports Media Distort the News.” Gwinn documents a bias many of us have known for a long time.
So why does this matter?
It matters because free speech is a foundation for a democratic society. That’s why the Constitution’s First Amendment guaranteeing free expression was FIRST. But speech codes and POLCO are eroding free speech in America.
Europe and Canada don’t have “First Amendments” guaranteeing freedom of expression. If someone writes something that a group or individual takes offense at, then the writer can be charged, fined, and imprisoned. This has a chilling effect on discourse. The legal expenses of countering defamation charges are daunting. So people don’t express themselves as they otherwise would—which is tragic.
It’s not yet as bad in America, but even with the First Amendment, POLCO adherents are curbing free expression. Witness Ditka, Schilling, and Limbaugh.
And Jordyn Bihorn.
Radio host Don Imus was fired for making grossly offensive comments about Rutgers women’s basketball players. But was termination the only, or best, course of action? Why do POLCO adherents want to fire everyone who offends them?
We need tolerance AND frank back-and-forth on all issues. But how can there be full discussion when certain perspectives are dismissed, their adherents terminated, and non-POLCO perspectives discouraged—however coarse or obnoxious.
Fortunately, in this information age, the Internet still remains to guarantee an outlet for every perspective. But POLCO adherents now want to tax and regulate the World Wide Web. Of course.
This column is an example of unbridled free speech—which I don’t take for granted.
As for Jordyn Bihorn—let her have her bow for her yearbook photo. And give her an arrow as well!

Sports Quiz
What major college football player scored 43 points, with six touchdowns and seven extra points, on November 17, 1956, during a 61-7 win over Colgate University? (Answer follows)

Born Today …
That is to say, sports standouts born on May 12 include Yankee legend Yogi Berra (1925), former Boston Bruin standout John Bucyk (1935), and skateboarding star Tony Hawk (1968).

Sportsquote
“I couldn’t tell if they were men or women. They had bags over their heads.” – Yogi Berra, after some naked streakers ran across a baseball field.

Sportsquiz Answer
Syracuse University’s Jim Brown.

Michael Moffett is a Professor of Sports Management for Plymouth State University and NHTI-Concord. He recently co-authored the critically-acclaimed and award-winning “FAHIM SPEAKS: A Warrior-Actor’s Odyssey from Afghanistan to Hollywood and Back” (with the Marines)—which is available through Amazon.com. His e-mail address is mimoffett@comcast.net.