by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
David Harsanyi of the Federalist offers one surefire way to ruin baseball: Inject politics into the game.
Jayson Stark, a longtime baseball writer at ESPN.com, recently asked if Major League Baseball players’ lack of political involvement was an abdication of their responsibility as citizens: “Is 2017 the time for a new code of conduct? Is it time for a more socially aware culture — in this, the sport of Jackie Robinson?”
What makes 2017 so special? Well, there’s a Republican in the White House, of course, which means the world is on the brink of calamity. We are always torn asunder in years of potential tax cuts and deregulation.
When Stark pens a piece lamenting the lack of political participation in the league of Jackie Robinson, he isn’t curious about why more African-American athletes aren’t protesting the destructive role of teachers unions in black communities or why athletes aren’t speaking out about the recent spike in crime in cities controlled by Democrats. He is talking about Donald Trump. If that were not the case, he would have written something along the same lines in 2010, when the nation was just as divided and the issues it faced just as contentious. …
… [B]aseball players already provide a wonderful example of American civility. They do this by not incessantly talking about politics. Baseball is a distraction. From politics.
How many voters are going to change their ideological views because Mookie Betts took a leadership position on … well, whatever it is that Todd believes is dividing Americans? Most voters, I assume, conduct business and relationships with coworkers and family who hold philosophical positions other than their own. Should a cashier at Target or an accountant at an H&R Block feel compelled to lecture everyone he or she meets about public policy, as well? What would our communities look like if everyone were an activist? Insufferable, that’s what.
Moreover, the MLB’s great diversity reflects not only the bravery of Robinson but his victory. There will never be another Jackie Robinson. We don’t need another Jackie Robinson. Baseball already proves that rural whites, Hispanic immigrants, African Americans, northeastern Yankees can all live and play on a team, pull together, aspire to greatness, and make vast amount of money in the process. The ability of diverse people to live peacefully under a free system is the American ideal. Demanding unanimity of opinion is not. In many ways we still have the former. The latter is what tears us apart.