As a follow-up to yesterday’s post, a reader sent me a subscriber-only story on Sports Illustrated’s Website by Rick Reilly, which ends:

Athletes are soldiers and soldiers are athletes. Uniformed, fit and trained, they fight for one cause, one team. They take ground and they defend it. Both are carried off on their teammates’ shoulders, athletes when they win and soldiers when they die.

Pat Tillman and Todd Bates were athletes and soldiers. Tillman wanted to be anonymous and became the face of this war. Bates wanted to be somebody and died faceless to most of the nation.

Both did their duty for their country, but I wonder if their country did its duty for them. Tillman died in Afghanistan, a war with no end in sight and not enough troops to finish the job. Bates died in Iraq, a war that began with no just cause and continues with no just reason.

Be proud that sports produce men like this.

But I, for one, am furious that these wars keep taking them.


Iraq had “no just cause and continues with no just reason”? I guess Reilly would prefer Saddam was back in power. Of course, so would the folks who worked for another part of the Time-Warner conglomerate.

My reader added, “Sports writers/journalists try to give themselves intellectual credibility by inundating us with politically correct commentary and asides. My feeling is that they believe this insulates them from the criticism that they are lightweights that ‘only write about sports’.”

Exactly. And it’s probably why Paul Zimmerman of SI has a similar story on Tillman which begins with this ee cummings quote:

Buffalo Bill’s defunct who used to ride a watersmooth-silver stallion and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjust like that Jesus he was a handsome man and what I want to know is how do you like your blueeyed boy Mister Death

Zimmerman’s last paragraph begins:

It’s impossible, the whole thing is impossible, the whole crazy world and the fact that young men such as Pat Tillman have to go out and do what they think is right and find death at 27 years old.

Does Zimmerman feel that volunteering for the Army and defending your country isn’t right? That’s certainly what’s implied by his sentence. And check out “Mister Death” in the cummings quote, which Zimmerman uses as a thinly-veiled reference to the president.

Of course, as the man said, “You’re making a powerful assumption, young man. You’re assuming that you represent the public. I don’t accept that”.


Zimmerman and Reilly represent the public that orbits the SI offices at 1271 Avenue Of The Americas. It’s a safe bet they doesn’t represent the infinitely larger public who inhabit the blank area of that famous New Yorker cartoon between there and Los Angeles.

SOMEWHAT RELATED UPDATE: Over at Tech Central Station, Keith Burgess-Jackson, a self-professed liberal himself, has an article titled, “Explaining Liberal Anger“.


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