I look forward to the random insertion of former baseball player Doug Glanville's column on the New York Times op-ed page, but his most recent article misses the mark. To say that players today are any more political and outspoken because of the change in the public realm that they grew up with is far off base. While it may be true that the ubiquity of facebook, twitter and the never ending media complex, has made players more cognizant of the impact of their statements, it has not given players new found courage. Branch Rickey and those that stuck with Jackie Robinson were crusaders that stood up for their political beliefs.
While the Phoenix Suns stance on the Arizona immigration legislation is commendable, sports careers do not die with political stances. I challenge Mr. Glanville to find one player in recent memory blackballed for their ethics, morals or political persuasion. In fact, I think most players from years past that were outspoken have been the guide for the Suns.
Every Jewish boy that dreams of playing baseball is regaled of Sandy Koufax's decision not to play on Yom Kippur. A year does not go by in hebrew school where this fact is not highlighted by teachers and is sought to ingrain not only the importance of one's Jewish heritage but the importance of one's conviction in what is right. Let us not forget it was not any regular baseball game but the World Series that Mr. Koufax sat out. Glanville's response might be that Koufax was a dominant player and if the Dodgers let him go someone would pick him up, is just as applicable to any other player. While there is no doubt, that a political player that is mediocre is less likely to get signed than a mediocre player that is silent, if a player has convictions and chooses not to espouse them, we outside the professional sports world call them a "sell out". Glanville gives them a pass.
Koufax is hardly the only player to stand by his conviction. We see the courage of Roberte Clemente and the ultimate sacrifice he made. Whether athletes like it or not they are role models. If they believe their baseball careers are that much more important than rights and politics, and they they will no longer be able to play sports because of their political stances, they truly are children playing a children game.