Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New cabinet post: Sports czar

Writer Sally Jenkins has an open letter to new prez Barack Obama calling for some changes in the world of American sport--including, though how seriously I cannot really gauge--the appointment of a sports czar.
She is correct though in noting that "it will be equally important to remake the play of America, because games are a reflection of a nation's health and ours could do with some reform."
So she has 10 suggestions. I am not going to go through all of them. The Title IX Blog mentioned today the ones relevant to them, I am going to touch on some others.
Reform of the BCS has been on Obama's agenda and there are a lot of complications and people on both sides who talk about true champions and purity of the game and yadda, yadda, yadda. But Jenkins gets to the crux--or what should be the crux--of the issue when she says:
The bowls no longer serve any discernable educational purpose -- the participating teams often have graduations rates worse than 50 percent, for which they are rewarded with extravagance. Players in this year's BCS bowls received gifts such as Tourneau watches, Apple iPods and $300 worth of Sony electronics.
Number 5 on Jenkins's list is to insist on an in-tune version of the national anthem at sporting events. I would rather see the elimination of the national anthem. Sports, even the ones played in the US, are such an international affair these days. Welcome to the globalized sportocracy, folks. Stop playing the anthem. In addition to being out of tune, it's tacky and ridiculous when one sees all those Canadians shuffling their skates as they--and most of the other athletes--simply play along with the overt display of meaningless nationalism.
Number 6 is "Save tennis." I concur though I think the whole "where are the Americans, where are the Americans?" whining is a little ridiculous. See above about globalized sports. It would be nice to make recreational tennis more accessible.
Here is the entirety of #9 with which I wholeheartedly agree:
9. Pardon Marion Jones. It's a despicable fact that a black woman is the only person in the Balco steroids investigations to serve any significant time in prison. A martinet of a judge gave Jones six months for lying to investigators. Meanwhile, the lowlife Balco chemist got half her sentence and baseball drug dealer Kirk Radomski got only probation. That's vengeance, not justice. Make it right, Mr. President.
Good to see that some have not forgotten about Marion Jones.
Finally Jenkins suggests that Obama intervene and try to improve the Washington Redskins. First, my guess is that he's probably going to stay pretty loyal to his Chicago teams. Second, the big reform regarding the Redskins should be their name. First black president in office, cries of our color-blind society and the realization of MLK's dream--yet we still have rampant racism in sport--as evidenced by the belief that's it's just fine to use Native American names, imagery, and symbolism in sport. It shouldn't have to fall on the first black president to abolish the use of an offensive nickname from the capital's professional football team, but it's as good a time as any--better if you truly believe all the hope and change rhetoric.

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