From “The Popeye” File, Ethics Dunce: Kurt Streeter, NYT Sports Columnist

I’ve complained about Streeter before, but he really needs to be officially flagged as an Ethics Dunce, hence this Popeye post, an Ethics Alarms feature when my alternatives are to write or throw myself into a woodchipper. Streeter personifies the general principle that if a reader can tell your race while reading your work product about a topic that doesn’t have anything to do with race, you’re biased and laboring under a conflict of interest while using your job to advance personal agendas and grievances.

Streeter now writes the once iconic “Sports of The Times” column, and, the Times tells us, “he has a particular interest in the connection between sports and broader society, especially regarding issues of race, gender and social justice.” Translation: He exploits sports to advance his social justice hobby horses rather than enlighten readers about what he’s supposed to be writing about. His presence as the New York Times’ most prestigiously-presented sportswriter tells us exactly what the New York Times cares about, and it sure isn’t sports.

Sports is often about ethics, and Streeter’s Sunday Times column column today pretends to be about ethics. It’s called “Tokyo Olympians Are Showing That Grit Can Be Graceful,” and a few of his entries raise some great ethics issues. For example, I didn’t know, because watching the greed- and Larry Vaughn Effect-driven Olympics could not drag me from my disorderly sock drawer, that high jumpers Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar and Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy agreed to forgo a jumpoff that would have decided the competition so they could share the Olympic gold medal. That’s fascinating, because the deal could be the ultimate display of sportsmanship and respect, or a calculated decision to maximize personal gain while minimizing risk of loss at the expense of competition, which is, after all, what fans want to see. Streeter, however, can’t see the issue, and instead has to take his social justice warrior cheap shot. “They knew full well they would be blasted by those who claim that there must always be a single winner, that sharing is weak and — even worse — unmanly,” he writes. Streeter is so tiresome and predictable.

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Ethics Rot On The Sports Pages

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I have written here before that following baseball and baseball commentary as a child formed the foundation of my interest in ethics and ethical virtues. This was made possible by my idealistic, lawyer, war hero father guiding me through various thickets of confusion and toxic rationalizations, but I worked a lot of it out myself. Boston sportswriting was famously full of fools and blow-hards back then, but at least there was seldom any political opining on the sports pages. I assume that responsible editors forbade it, since the typical sportswriter possessed the sophistication of the average eleven-year old. Sports was seen, correctly, as an often abstract metaphor for real life, where one could learn useful lessons about human nature and problem solving, but one which would curdle quickly once it was confused with the more complex issues that lay outside the stadiums, parks, fields and arenas.

An important book could be written about how politics spoiled, and perhaps even ruined, sports, and the negative effect of this on the rest of American society. I don’t have the time for that, and it’s outside of my area of expertise anyway. However, it seems clear that the politicization and progressive brain-washing that has perverted so much else today has infected sports, perhaps fatally, and that whatever value the topic may have had in conveying cultural values to our young has evaporated in the steam of empty wokeness and ruthless propaganda.

This week provided additional damning evidence. Monday was epic, as the sports page propagandists prepared us for the brain-twisting logic of the baseball Hall of Fame voters determining that Curt Schilling’s support for the previous President of the United States made him a worse pitcher. One Times article demonstrated just how devoid of critical thinking skills sports writers are by quoting with approval a supposedly astute baseball writer’s’ suggestion that “making transphobic comments” is a “much better” reason to keep a player out of the Hall of Fame than his steroid use. Incredible! The latter is cheating on the field. The former is the expression of an opinion, and has nothing to do with baseball at all.

But that wasn’t the worst of what Monday’s sportswriting wisdom brought us. The new primary sports columnist of the New York Times, Kurt Streeter, reflecting on the end of the NFL season, issued a screed celebrating—wait for it—Colin Kaepernick.

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