Opening Day is a harbinger of summer and a reminder of racial hypocrisy

The Response - 04/07/2022

April 7, 2022: Today, in spite of the snowflakes I saw outside the window, is Opening Day for Major League Baseball. I celebrate that news, but not for the reasons I used to.

Today, Opening Day is a harbinger of the spring and summer ahead. It tells me that, even if we have some cold days, some snowy days (with snow that sticks), for all intents and purposes, winter is behind us. But it used to mean much more to me.

I loved baseball when I was growing up. In the summer, I would take my ball, bat and mitt down to Mansfield Park in Morton Grove and look for a scratch ball game. I followed the progress of the Cubs ravenously and kept tabs on the stats of the top players in the league. But these days have passed, and it took some doing to make it so.

I think I always knew that professional sports were businesses though I naively thought of the teams in benevolent terms when I was younger. As I grew older, I became a bit cynical about professional sports, though I was still an avid fan of baseball (Cubs), football (Bears) and hockey (Blackhawks).

An example would be the time someone asked me why I didn't wear my Bears hat anymore. I pointed out that, by wearing the hat, I was advertising their business. I said, "I'll wear their hat when they pay me to promote their business."

This all changed when Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49er quarterback, refused to stand for the National Anthem. I understand that this is America and there is no law forcing him to stand. But, where he has the freedom to kneel as a statement that America lacks respect, I have the freedom to draw my own conclusions to his statement of disrespect.

Then, when I watched the NFL go from wishy-washy on the issue, to an endorsement of Black Lives Matter, I realized that this organization of businesses had sided against me and all I believe. They had, in my opinion, sided against America.

The problem with Kaepernick's attitude about America, a problem shared by BLM and the NFL is that it is based on a completely one-sided perspective of America.

I'm not claiming that racism, slavery, Jim Crow, and Segregation never happened in America, or that they weren't reprehensible institutions and attitudes. But if America is to be condemned for slavery, we have to ignore the Civil War and the 1 out of every 50 Americans alive at the time who died deciding the issue slavery (the equivalent of 6.2 million dead Americans if that war were fought with the same percentage of deaths today).

To condemn America for Jim Crow and Segregation, we would have to ignore that white men also led the fight against those despicable approaches to law and society. We also need to pretend that anyone casting that condemnation America's way are stating, by their condemnation, that they would have done better if they were in the shoes of those who came before us.

If modernity began in Africa or Asia, would they not have colonized America? Would they not have had slavery? Of course, they would have. They've already proven as much before and after the introduction of what we know of as the Modern World.

Then there is the hypocrisy of the professional sports leagues. They are the business monsters that they are today because of the opportunity offered by America. They can't honestly condemn America without condemning themselves. And, if you've ever heard the name of Jackie Robinson, you know that the hands of these professional sports leagues are hardly clean.

I'm not suggesting we should condemn them. Rather, I'm pointing out what a bad joke it is when they join with others to condemn America. America doesn't deserve condemnation. I do wish, however, that I could enjoy sports the way I used to.