Muhammad Ali did more to divide America by color than even Barack Obama. People seem to forget that. Ali was a great entertainer but that’s as far as We should celebrate His life. His religion was Islam, the same as those that kill America’s daily.
There was an interesting editorial in the Orlando Sentinel about this subject and here it is in it’s entirety:
We don’t really want more athletes like Ali
Millions of words have been devoted to Muhammad Ali since he died late Friday. A lot of them lamented the fact there aren’t more athletes like “The Greatest.”
You know, socially conscience crusaders who are brave enough to take political stands. Even if their views are unpopular, they should be encouraged to express them.
Tell that to Curt Schilling and Matt Birk. Or Carlos Delgado and Rashard Mendenhall and Toni Smith.
They are just a few of the athletes who took bold stands. Mostly what it got them was ridicule, anger, pink slips and death threats.
Criticism will come whether you’re pro-choice and anti-war or anti-choice and pro-war. What’s notable is the people telling certain jocks to shut up are telling other jocks to speak up.
They will defend to the death your right to say something — as long as it agrees with what they think.
The reigning heavyweight champ for ridicule is Schilling. ESPN suspended the former Red Sox pitcher/conservative gadfly for a Twitter meme equating Islamic jihadism to Nazism.
ESPN said the issue wasn’t what Schilling said, it was that he couldn’t stop saying it. Sure enough, he posted an anti-transgender photo on Facebook and was fired.
Whether you agree or not with him, there’s no doubt Schilling had the courage of his convictions. For that, he became a martyr to conservatives, a boogeyman to the liberals and unemployed.
Birk never lost a job, but the retired Ravens center was a big pro-life advocate. He boycotted Baltimore’s championship visit to the White House because of President Obama’s support for Planned Parenthood.
Birk, who won Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award in 2011, was labeled a Christian kook disrespectful of the presidency.
Conservatives get the worst of it, but the backlash is hardly limited to them. In 2004, Delgado was ripped for staying the dugout during the playing of “God Bless America.” It was his way of protesting the Iraq War.
Smith shared those views, but she was a complete unknown on the Manhattanville College women’s basketball team. When she turned her back on the flag during the national anthem, she became a media sensation and social pariah.
After Osama bin Laden was killed, Mendenhall tweeted that no one’s death should be celebrated and other 9-11 Trutherisms. The backlash cost him an endorsement deal with Champion.
Speaking of Truthers, I noted in a recent column a large number of athletes from Jack Nicklaus to Dennis Rodman who’ve endorsed Donald Trump. Reader reaction was split down party lines.
Trumpsters hailed the athletes for speaking up. The other side said they were fools and racists devoid of legitimate arguments.
The same group has no problem with LeBron James doing ads for Obamacare. He is hailed as the antidote to Michael Jordan, who said he wouldn’t endorse a black Democrat in a senate race because “Republicans vote, too.”
That became the go-to quote for critics of athletes who prefer to keep their views to themselves. It’s easy to admire Ali standing up for his principles while Jordan only stood up for Nike.
The hard part is tolerating views you can’t stand. Nowadays, the only thing both sides agree on is that the other viewpoint is too stupid to even discuss. They can’t conceive that Birk might not be anti-woman or Mendenhall might not be anti-American.
I doubt that’s what Ali would want. He would have said it’s fair to criticize anyone’s beliefs, and that athletes should accept that risk.
But critics should accept that their feelings might get hurt, and they should defend the right of people to do just that.
Until that happens, the truth is we don’t want athletes to be more like Muhammad. We really prefer them to be like Mike.