What Happened At Fenway: “This Isn’t Us!” Or Is It?

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Acts like this say “No matter how well you play the game, just remember you’re still a “n-word.”


Courtesy: The University Daily Kansan

The circumstance in Boston earlier this week turned heads and took breaths away. Orioles’ outfielder, Adam Jones, was racially taunted from the stands during a baseball game at Fenway Park.

Boston mayor, Marty Walsh, admonished the transgressor(s), proclaiming the act as unacceptable.

This isn’t us,” Walsh said.

He’s wrong.

It IS us. It’s America writ large. The “us” is the US.

It has been that way for as long as I can remember. And data show that the number of troubling incidents is on the rise. It’s often socially acceptable—even fashionable—to call people names, to joke about them, and to exclude them.

We expect civic leaders, like Walsh, to say and do the right thing, especially when there’s an incident like we had this week in Boston. Most of the time they will. But what they can’t do is fix America, a country that’s full of divisiveness and sometimes hate. That’s on US.

“The other” comes in many forms – gender, sexual orientation, income, class, race, creed, nation-of-origin, physical characteristics…the list is long. Because difference is everywhere, sometimes people are afraid that it will change US. US will be gone … forever.

So they draw the line. America should be just like them: White, Anglo, and Christian (WAC). “Normal.”

A WAC’ed America is comforting. Anything else isn’t.

But the fascinating thing about what happened in Boston this week is that “these people” lashed out against a multi-millionaire. We pay Black athletes millions to play games for us. They play. We watch.

Yes, the number of African-Americans playing MLB is lower than they used to be—shocking low at about 7% of all players. But all that does is make players–especially good players like Adam Jones–stick out. They become easy targets.

Courtesy: History v. Hollywood

An historic dynamic is then put in play. It’s what Phillies’ manager Ben Chapman said to Jackie Robinson decades ago: “Your’e a hell of a ballplayer, Jackie, but you’re still a ‘n-word’.”

Yes, what happened in Boston this week is about US. And we’re not prepared to do anything big as a society to change that. We did once in my lifetime (in the 1960’s), but not since.

This isn’t us, Mr. Walsh? Oh yes it is.

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About Frank Fear

I’m a Columnist at The Sports Column. My specialty is sports commentary with emphasis on sports reform. I also serve as TSC’s Chief Operating Officer and Managing Editor. In that role I coordinate the daily flow of submissions from across the country and around the world, including overseeing editing and posting articles. I’m especially interested in enabling the development of young, aspiring writers. I can relate to them. I began covering sports in high school for my local newspaper. In college I served as sports editor of the campus newspaper and worked in the Sports Information Director’s Office at St. John Fisher College. After finishing grad degrees at West Virginia and Iowa State I had a 35-year academic career at Michigan State. Now retired, it’s time to write again about sports. I strongly support TSC’s philosophy–democratizing voice by giving everybody a chance to write.



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Comments (What Happened At Fenway: “This Isn’t Us!” Or Is It?)

    Samuel H. Johnson wrote (05/06/17 - 10:56:39AM)

    BRAVO, Frank. Well done and right on time. Thank you.