Ray Ratto

No reason whatsoever for Newton to be too clever by half, too contemptuous by double

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USATSI

No reason whatsoever for Newton to be too clever by half, too contemptuous by double

The Cam Newton/Jourdan Rodrigue story did what these stories are supposed to do -- go supernova, explode, and then leave a quiet dead spot in the universe.

And did so in less than a day.

You know the particulars -- Rodrigue, the Charlotte Observer writer and Carolina Panthers beat writer, asked Newton a fairly innocuous question about receiver Devin Funchess which Newton turned into a snippy pejorative of women, sportswriters and women sportswriters. Since then, someone deep-dove Rodrigue’s Twitter account and found her laughing at racist references (she apologized) and Dannon Yogurt dropped Newton as a spokesman in part because he didn’t (apologize, that is).

The clear takeaways are that Newton’s retrograde position on women in the business of sports was and is a public relations disaster, that Rodrigue’s weakness (her Twitter game) will become the secondary reasoning for Newton’s defenders, and that apologies remain the major way we as a culture measure someone’s ability to overcome an error in judgment (at best) and/or a sexism-racism debate (at worst).

And here’s the weirdest part of this very weird story. It was all over a simple question about Funchess that required only -- and I do mean ONLY -- that Newton pay compliment to one of his wide receivers.

The question was not accusatory in nature, or suggested some sort of shortcoming in either player. It wasn’t delving into team secrets or putting the Panthers in some sort of competitive disadvantage. Even if it was, the response Newton gave would be wrong, but in this case it was wrong for no good reason.

This will bear repeating as he eventually delivers the team-written apology, and when his agent scares up his next endorsement after the heat from the Dannon folks dissipates. Newton lost much by giving an answer to a question that had no risk at all and was even providing praise for a teammate.

And whether Funchess needs that or not is not relevant. Maybe his parents or friends or partner would have enjoyed it. Maybe he becomes a quick five-minute throwaway on one of the endlessly tedious and tediously endless midweek shows that gets him a bit of notice.

But Newton needed to be too clever by half and too contemptuous by double – FOR NO GAIN WHATSOEVER. NONE.

So while his views of women in sports are clearly problematic (and that’s giving him all the best of it, let’s be honest), it is the time and place and circumstances here that actually make this worse than he’s already been called. He became a talking point (which is about as bad as things get these days) because he couldn’t form the phrase, “Yes, Devin Funchess is a quite a help to me and all of us.”

Unbelievable. And yet completely believable.

Taking politics out of sports? Now that’s a more interesting idea

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AP

Taking politics out of sports? Now that’s a more interesting idea

In lieu of the famous Invitation That Never Was, the Golden State Warriors decided to hook their annual trip to Washington to a trip to visit area kids. No visits to capital sights, no photo ops with politician/lampreys, no media at all in fact.

And in the immortal words of Poet Laureate Draymond Green, “It’s about something we did great. Why make it about (politics)?” he said.

But by that seemingly impeccable logic, the Warriors’ annual trip to Washington should be the equivalent of the Warriors’ annual trip to Milwaukee – a stop on a road trip.

Washington, you see, IS politics, and always has been. And sports and politics are joined at the forehead, and always have been. To take Washington out of sports would be easy – move the four area franchises (Wizards, Capitals, Nationals and Football Team X) to other cities, and never plan for championship teams to take another White House trip except as ordinary citizens.

But to take politics out of sports – now that’s a more interesting idea. Never mind kneeling for the national anthem; what about not standing for it, or playing it at all? How about taking the flag down entirely? And the Olympics? Without the politics, the Winter Games are just a weekend at Tahoe, and the Summer Games are just a massive company picnic.

And that’s the real depth of the rabbit hole. Nobody advocates for the Olympics to become a giant play date or an extended trip to the lodge. Nobody is advocating reducing the flagpoles to goal frames. Only a few think the anthem shouldn’t played before sporting events.

In other words, people have made their peace with sports and politics being intertwined. Me, I’d be good with giving all these ideas an extended try to see if they don’t make more and better sense than what we have now. But I am but one in a sea of many, and most people are perfectly okay with politics and sports – even the “Stick to sports” parrots. They’re not against sports and politics; they’re just against sports and politics they don’t like.

So with all due respect to Draymond Green, it’s all politics because we all have decided that we’re good with it all being politics. The day we decide otherwise may well be a happier and purer moment in human cultural development, but too few are willing to consider a world without conjoined politicosport, or commingled sportatics.

But if it helps, the Warriors are on the right track when they decided to do their visit without a media intrusion because media is part of this messy confluence as well. Going to see kids with no outsiders just because they’re kids is never a bad thing, and it has the added advantage that nobody can use it for their own nefarious greedfaced ends.

So maybe the Warriors can see some kids in Atlanta too, and Portland, and Minnesota, and Phoenix, all without anyone tagging along for fun and profit. There’s no politics in that, and if politics-free sport is something we actually want as a society, it has to start somewhere, and there’s no better place than a schoolyard to get that started.

Forever in search of an Oakland ballpark, the A's always have Japan

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USATSI

Forever in search of an Oakland ballpark, the A's always have Japan

If this helps the Athletics/Howard Terminal/BART/city government standoff in any way, there’s this:
 
The A’s open the 2019 season in Japan, according to a report from the San Francisco Chronicle
 
How this helps is anyone’s guess, but given the litany of ways that a new privately financed baseball stadium cannot get built in the Nickel-Dime area code, it must surely be a comfort to know that outside the continental United States, the A’s are golden.
 
Indeed, Oakland ‘s role as the leading exporter of professional sports contests to foreign lands (their series with the Seattle Mariners next year will be the 21st, 22nd and 23rd games played off-continent by Oakland’s three teams) simply grows. Indeed, once the Raiders go to Las Vegas and the Warriors to That Other Place, the A’s will be the only thing that can be exported, and once they get their new ballpa . . .
 
. . . oops, sorry. Didn’t mean to bring up cruel fictions again.
 
The A’s aren’t even part of this latest dustup except in receipt of a letter in which BART general manager Grace Crunican said that a station near a Howard Terminal site isn’t going to happen. This is more a grenade rolled under the chair of the Right Hon. Libby (Don’t Mess With Me) Schaaf, who has been flogging the Howard Terminal plan with the aggression one typically finds in an Aaron Judge at-bat.
 
And in honesty, an elected official who can flip off the National Football League and not feel the electorate’s wrath is not to be underestimated.
 
That said, the Crunican letter is one reminder that Oakland is as skilled as ever at finding ways to halt stadium plans before they even get started. More stadiums in more sites have been killed pre-shovel in Oakland than anywhere else in the U.S.
 
There will be horse trading and arm-twisting (not to mention arm trading and horse twisting, if it comes to that) between the current “no” and the series of “nos” to follow, but this does mean that the pot dispensaries need to step up now and speak as one about their own reason why a ballpark cannot happen in Oakland – maybe they can site a lack of arable land to cultivate the smoke for the woke.
 
And in the meantime, they’ll always have Japan – Oakland’s sister from another mother when it comes to hosting games our towns cannot.