Update: In response to suggestions made in the comments, I’ve sent a letter to the SI editors expressing my opinions and linking to this post. Thanks.
I am going to let my subscription to Sports Illustrated lapse when it runs out this year. I hope lots of other people will do the same. Like too many other publications, the magazine has become dishonest, dishonorable and even occasionally despicable in its conformist, lockstep left-wing bias. Republican politicians and conservative positions are routinely insulted in articles having nothing to do with either. Yawn-inducing left wing predictability is brought to the discussion of every issue. No SI writer is allowed to disagree with leftism ever. Despite its great photographs and occasionally good athlete profiles, the magazine has remade itself into crap in the name of political conformity.
For me, the Super Bowl issue with its smarmy and poorly reported article on religion in football was the last straw. The article was not an offense to God, it was an offense to journalism. Mark Oppenheimer, a left wing anti-religion writer for the left wing New York Times, among other left wing venues, does the left wing hit job on football players of faith. Not surprisingly, he is also the author of a hagiography of the Christian-bashing gay bully Dan Savage. (This blog has always supported gays and gay rights, but to my mind, Savage has no more place in serious debate than the Westboro Baptist gang.)
I could go through Oppenheimer’s lousy article “In the Fields of the Lord,” graph by graph to point out the unsupported conclusions, innuendoes, slanted use of quotes and flat-out untruths that would be unacceptable in any magazine attempting to report fairly, but I’d rather spend my time doing something more interesting, like twiddling my thumbs.
But here’s an example, chosen almost at random:
“It’s clear that for a substantial number of athletes and coaches, there is no tension between being a Christian and being an aggressive athlete. On the contrary, many of them argue that football builds character and thereby makes a man more of a Christian — a commingling of faith and football now accepted by fans.
But is that a mistake? Just 50 years ago such coziness between public Christianity and football would have seemed absurd. Athletes were nobody’s idea of good ambassadors for religion; they were more likely to be seen as dissolute drinkers and womanizers — more the roguish Joe Namath than the devout Roger Staubach.The aggressive, violent play preached by coaches of an earlier generation was accepted as natural precisely because sport was pagan, not Christian. Christianity was peaceful, charitable and pious. Sport was bloody, ruthless, impious.
In the 1950’s and 60’s that antagonism began to soften…”
Really? So 50 years ago — which would be 1963 — a cozy relationship between religion and football would’ve been “absurd,” but in the 1950s, more than sixty years ago, that began to change. Football used to be more about wild man Joe Namath, who played between ’65 and ’77, than pious Roger Staubach, who played roughly between ’69 and ’79.Uh, who says so? What made Namath more representative of football than Staubach? That he got more headlines? That says something about journalism, but not about religion. Sport was pagan? In what world? Gale Sayers’? Johnny Unitas’? Bear Bryant’s? Hogwash.
Okay, maybe in this example Oppenheimer’s writing is just sloppy, shoddy, unedited, stupid and unsupported, but the rest of the piece really is sinister. Organized prayer is made to sound like a conspiracy. Statements like “Football corrupts its fans” are thrown out without any proof whatsoever. And then there’s the fourth rate theology: “The Bible is clear that [God] preferred the loser.” Mr. Oppenheimer has a PHD in American religious history so really, he might want to read the Bible sometime.
Well, I could go on, but why bother? I’ve chronicled SI’s Lord-o-phobia before. And Oppenheimer is entitled to his shallow opinion. My point is only that it’s not journalism, or interesting, or even vaguely worth reading. I would love to read a well-reported, balanced article about the problems of mixing faith and sports as I would be interested in intelligent debate about Title IX and whether the damage it does to boys’ sports outweighs whatever good it does, if any, for girls. But you will never find that in SI today.
All you get here are leftists telling leftists how to think leftily about leftism. Which is a waste of everyone’s time. Especially when what you’re trying to do is find out about your favorite sport.
Screw em. Sports Illustrated officially stinks now. Cancel my subscription.
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