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Joe Ovies

'Stick to sports!'

Posted May 13

"Stick to sports!"

It's a phrase that often shows up in my email, Twitter mentions or from callers who aren't pleased when the conversation delves into issues not directly related to athletic competition.

It's also completely understandable. Sports are meant to be a diversion, filled with superfluous debate over things like who belongs on the Mount Rushmore of elite quarterbacks or who could beat Michael Jordan one-on-one in basketball.

So when Michael Sam kisses his boyfriend on ESPN, a good chunk of sports fans who came to the NFL Draft for that diversion are going to be thrown off when a pundit starts talking about historic moments and societal issues. Other fans just want to watch basketball, not hear L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling giving Anderson Cooper a dissertation on Jews, African Americans and which group does more for their community.

Look, I get it. These are difficult discussions to have and sometimes they don't mesh with hot sports takes over coach Scott Brooks being in over his head at Oklahoma City.

However, the problem with "sticking to sports" is that sports has a history of being more than just bats and balls. What happens in sports is often a reflection of what is currently happening in society. If you're a sports fan and don't recognize this history, such as Jackie Robinson breaking barriers or Jesse Owens winning four gold medals in the 1936 Olympics, then you're choosing to bury your head in the sand over what sports can mean in the grand scheme.

Pure competition is the greatest equalizer we have in culture.

What happened at the draft with Sam, and the subsequent reaction that went along with it, was wholly expected. It's why the reaction to the negative reaction was more amusing from my point of view. It goes along with my usual "what do you expect?" sort of attitude. 

And I also have zero interest in shaming people for their beliefs.

Just keep in mind a player like Sam is out there living his life and pursuing his professional dream. It shouldn't be that difficult to wish him well and move on with our own lives. If it makes fans uncomfortable, that's their own issue to deal with and we all will deal with it differently. Same goes for folks who don't understand why societal change didn't happen overnight.

Sam now begins another journey trying to carve out a career. We'll continue to talk about sports. Fans will keep watching.

In other words, time marches on.

21 Comments

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  • T Cobb May 16, 10:42 p.m.

    It's all ratings driven. Question is....can he play?

  • jackaroe123 May 15, 1:56 p.m.

    You say you have zero interest in shaming people for their beliefs. But you and Adam and... View More

    — Posted by doustoi

    On the contrary, I called in just this week and got a little riled up shaming bigots and promptly had my call dropped.

    If you're humbly stating your beliefs but not interfering w/ others' lives, fine. If your beliefs drive you to start encroaching on others' rights or crossing other lines, you deserve shaming. So if you're taking to twitter or the airwaves to rant about how disgusting it is, or how you now hate the Rams, or how immoral Sam's entire being is, you're pushing first and deserve to be pushed back.

    I might get annoyed at Joe or Adam for not being as militant as I am for equality. You're getting annoyed w/ them for not being as agitated as you are, and you don't appear to be aware that that is what your beef is.

  • doustoi May 15, 10:54 a.m.

    You say you have zero interest in shaming people for their beliefs. But you and Adam and Shannon create an on-air atmosphere that really only recognizing the media-preferred set of beliefs on topics like gay athletes, amateurs in sports, character issues with athletes, etc. That is why I am so quick to click away from your show on my drive home. You guys can have some great shows on NC State athletics and ACC sports, but when you start circumscribing acceptable thought and speech - by your ridicule of those who think differently - you lose me.

  • GunnyGoesArrrgh May 14, 6:18 a.m.

    I think the point here is ESPN and other sports news agencies are going to talk about what gets... View More

    — Posted by jdpridg

    Agree, JD. A lot of this is about ratings: ESPN wants eyeballs, 99.9 wants listeners, they have meetings on what to discuss, and a lot of what is said is scripted. Like you said, we can change the channel if we don't like what they're saying. We're living in an age where news is 24/7, and there is only so much new news, so things get repeated over and over.

  • ACC EXPERT May 13, 6:02 p.m.

    To each his own certainly, but ESPN has made a mockery of this Michael Sam situation. It... View More

    — Posted by trolllordv00

    you are right on-
    the media (especially local) seems to be confused with people being disgusted (for hate) I don't hate the guy but I surely do not condone what he does- I have family members that are gay and they know my feelings and don't try to shove it down my throat(bad pun) David took a lady to task referred to her as a bible thumper (she has the right) I was told once a business person that he goes to be seen as a church member for the community well that is the wrong reason- unfortunately many do this (talking to you Glenn)

  • ACC EXPERT May 13, 5:06 p.m.

    Honestly - I really don't see any difference between Sams kissing his partner, or any other... View More

    — Posted by Got Peart

    It has become the "IT" thing to do these days- it didn't take courage and he is not a hero. if he succeeds got no problem but the ceremonial display is a little much but with the media now days they will blow (no pun intended) this thing as big as they can.

  • Got Peart May 13, 4:59 p.m.

    Honestly - I really don't see any difference between Sams kissing his partner, or any other player kissing his wife/girlfriend.

    It's not the lifestyle I choose, but who am I to say others can't be happy. I think it's great, and I hope he succeeds. Coming out like that took more stones than most guys have. Not sure if I were in his shoes I could have done it in that fashion.

  • jmcdow2792 May 13, 4:07 p.m.

    It is the off season for the most popular sports. So the sports writers have to have something to write about. I just wish we could get more in depth analysis of our favorite sports and teams, but I guess that is too much to ask.

  • Itsmyopinion67 May 13, 3:44 p.m.

    I am sure there are lots of football players who suffer from mental illness like Michael Sam. That's no reason to judge.

  • lewiskr45 May 13, 3:41 p.m.

    I think the point here is ESPN and other sports news agencies are going to talk about what gets... View More

    — Posted by jdpridg

    Sadly that's true. Enough people "embrace debate" and love what espn has turned into. Everything and anything that will get them eyeballs goes on the air.

More...

 

 

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