Ten days ago in Charlottesville, a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of leftist protesters, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. A gang of neo-Nazis surrounded 20-year-old Dre Harris and took turns violently assaulting him. On the following Tuesday, Herbert Gilbert, an unarmed black man, was fatally shot by police in Thomasville, Georgia. Last weekend, black counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally in Boston were kettled by riot police and attacked with batons. On Sunday a 22-year-old Cleveland man was hospitalized after being beaten by an assailant shouting, “You don’t belong here. Go back to your own country.” At a rally Tuesday night in Phoenix, the president of the United States signaled his intent to pardon a sheriff convicted of overseeing a draconian racial-profiling regime while police fired tear gas at demonstrators outside.

These are the wages of bigotry and oppression. People are murdered, terrorized, deported, impoverished, disenfranchised, blackballedextorted, poisoned, and in countless other ways made less free and less safe.

At some point in the last ten days or so, while many of the things above were happening or about to happen, a gaggle of dimwits at ESPN arrived at the decision—in the boring corporate way that boring corporations tend to arrive at decisions—that C-squad play-by-play guy Robert Lee would be reassigned from this Saturday’s UVA home opener “because of the coincidence of his name,” out of a desire, in the words of network president John Skipper, not to “create a distraction, or even worse, expose him to social hectoring and trolling.”

These are the wages of PC sensitivity. A guy was going to call a football game, and now he will call a different football game.

(more…)

Yesterday Kevin Durant announced his decision to join the Golden State Warriors and occasioned yet another installment of a time-honored internet tradition: sportswriters coming together to ridicule the passion and emotional investment of the fans whose passion and emotional investment underwrite the entire business of professional sports and therefore, in the long term, those sportswriters’ jobs.

Freddie deBoer pushed back on this and this morning got into it with HardballTalk’s Craig Calcaterra, and while I’m not here to score a Twitter fight or litigate the specifics of the Durant situation, I’ll say this: few writers perform this routine as eagerly and consistently as Calcaterra does. He’s by all appearances a decent guy and writes intelligently about a lot of things, but man oh man do the ambit and incentives of his job at HBT give him a blind spot with respect to how tired the internet’s look-at-these-stupid-fans act has become:

(more…)

Tonight the U.S. Men’s National Team plays a crucial Copa America group stage match against Costa Rica. Probably they will win; probably they will also win against Paraguay on Saturday; probably they will lose to Brazil in the knockout round after that. If this proves to be the case, there’ll be an effort to spin the tournament as a positive, a sign that the team is moving in the right direction again after 2015’s disastrous Gold Cup collapse and dispiriting loss to Mexico in the Confederations Cup playoff. This is some bullshit.

The pick for this roll was set back in February, when Soccer Twitter melted down upon seeing the USMNT drawn into Group A with Costa Rica, Paraguay, and Colombia, to whom they suffered a 2-0 defeat in the tournament opener. It’s true that this draw represented something close to a worst-case scenario for the U.S., but only with respect to their plum status as a seeded team alongside Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico; any combination of teams from Pots 2, 3 and 4 was still going to present a pretty easy path out of the group, and a tougher-than-expected draw didn’t change that. Neither Colombia nor Costa Rica are as good as their runs in the 2014 World Cup made them look; Paraguay may not quite be a minnow in the way that Haiti and Venezuela are, but they’re a young team ranked by Elo as the eighth-best of the ten CONMEBOL sides and shouldn’t be a real threat to a veteran American squad.

(more…)