Whether you consider the “Los Suns” gesture of Phoenix owner Rober Sarver to be an act of social conscience or savvy public relations, reactions like those featured in CSTB’s own comments section might provide a hint why Sarver’s fellow owners throughout professional sports aren’t taking a public stand. While hailing the Suns’ Steve Nash and Grant Hill for their making their feelings known, Sports Illustrated’s Jeff Pearlman bemoans a climate in which “most waved their hands in the air and — quite ironically — danced the ol’ ‘Me no speak politics’ two-step.”
Especially telling was this comment from Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch (above), a nice enough fellow who won’t be confused with Jackie Robinson anytime soon: “We’re a baseball team, not a political entity … one of the things you learn in this game is to control what you can control and not worry about the rest.”
In other words: Can we (gulp) please talk about something else? Pretty please?
With the exception of Nash, Hill and San Diego reliever Heath Bell — where are the non-Hispanic athletes when we need them? From Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to Diamonbacks infielder Augie Ojeda to White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, Latin ballplayers have rightly called out the new law for the vile hate legislation that it is. Yet why aren’t white and African-American players incensed as well? This isn’t a Republican vs. Democrat issue, so much as it is decency vs. hatred. Why didn’t Bud Selig relocate next year’s Arizona-based All-Star Game … yesterday? Why isn’t a Derek Jeter or Peyton Manning or Kobe Bryant screaming, “I live in a diverse world — and this isn’t diversity!” If clubhouses and locker rooms constitute families (as jocks like to insist), where is brotherhood when brotherhood is truly needed? As the Los Angeles-born Ojeda noted recently, “I don’t know the details, but if I leave the park after a game and I get stopped, am I supposed to have papers with me? I don’t think that’s fair.”
It’s not. Truth is, the new law should have people — jocks included — deeply concerned. It means visit Arizona at your own peril. It means certain ethnicities are welcome more than others. It means racism is alive and well in the United States of America.