Sport, the ultimate unifier, can provide a valuable escape from our hyper-political culture. But does that hold true on Breitbart? DJ Gallo logged on to find out
Sport can unite people from all walks of life. It can bring together all races, colors, creeds and orientations; it can bridge the gap between the most polarized political opponents.
Its the kind of pablum we hear every time the Olympic Games or World Cup rolls around. But theres some truth to it, too. During the Christmas ceasefire along the Western Front, German and allied troops engaged in football matches. And then there was that time you high-fived a complete stranger at a sporting event without knowing his complete voting history, let alone the last time he washed his hand.
It is with this idealistic sense of community that I always endeavor to watch sports, if for no other reason than to gain a brief escape from the rest of our hyper-partisan culture. But then I happened to discover that there is something called Breitbart Sports. Yes, Breitbart.com, the flagship website of the nationalistic, alt-right. The angry white man to the New York Times old gray lady, the publication whose headlines (and longtime publisher) have somehow come to inform the most powerful and misinformed man in the world, is slinging sports news and takes with the rest of us.
The idea of sport as a uniter made it through the first world war, but could it withstand an association with Breitbart? The site, remember has produced such headline hits as The Solution To Online Harassment is Simple: Women Should Log Off; Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy; and Theres No Hiring Bias Against Women in Tech, They Just Suck At Interviews.
In fairness, Breitbart has also produced headlines that are anti-other-people-than-just-women. It has also never claimed to have a goal of uniting people, as proven by the outlets longtime championing of professional provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. How would the media organization that welcomed Curt Schilling from ESPN cover the world of ball and stick, hits and kicks? I decided to find out by reading Breitbarts sports section for an entire week.
The first story in Breitbarts sports section for the day is the news that the University of Minnesota is removing the King and Queen titles from their Homecoming Court in order to be gender neutral. Homecoming is only tangentially related to football, and the article doesnt address the Gophers chances of taking the Big Ten West under new head coach PJ Fleck, but its on the sports page nonetheless. One of the top comments on the story reads: Boys have a penis. Girls have a vagina. Were off and running.
The next story of the day is about former NBA center Amare Stoudemire saying that he would refuse to shower with a gay team-mate, a story covered later by the Guardian. Breitbart also followed up on a story that ran first in the Guardian about New Orleans Saints players being turned away from a London nightclub for being too urban, and highlighted the clubs statement that the denial of entrance had anything to do with race. Then it was time for an article on Breitbarts sports muse: Colin Kaepernick. In a piece about how anthem protests could hurt free agents, we get the line: Will GMs be crying out for [his] services after he disrespected the flag in 2016?
As anyone knows who has heard Kaepernick or other NFL players speak out about their protests, they said kneeling was in no way to disrespect the flag or the military, but to bring attention to issues that concerned them in America. But maybe Breitbart mentioned that in one of the other 14,400 mentions of the middling QB on their site.
Last Thursday featured 10 posts on Breitbarts sports section, four of them about Kaepernick. This was the day the free agent announced he would not kneel for the anthem in 2017. There was the bare-bones news on Kaepernick ending his protest, a clip of Stephen A Smith calling him incredibly opportunistic, a clip of Colin Cowherd dubbing him a sellout and, to complete the yelling head trifecta, video from Skip Baylesss debate show.