When I was very young and growing up in an Italian family, I thought the word “bigotry” referred to an unusually large tree.  My grandfather would say, “Hey, dat’s a biga tree.”  But now that am much older and have transferred my trust from my paternal grandfather to the mass media, I realize that bigotry is being a Christian who stands up for his principles and opposes sin; at least that is what Sarah Spain is telling us on a popular sports show, “Around the Horn.”

The new usage of the word bigotry is really a libelous attack against five Tampa Bay baseball players who declined wearing a pride flag on their uniforms.  Sarah Spain stated, on air, that the players who do not wear a pride flag are bigoted and are using an adulterated religion to justify their position.  The players said nothing about anyone and they were given the option not to wear the pride emblems.  Yet, they were vilified.

Not everyone agreed with Ms. Spain’s accusations.  Sports writer Clay Travis, for example, felt that her comments had no place on a sports program:  “Imagine turning on sports and getting this loony left wing insanity on your TV.  Embarrassing.”  The sports-minded fan is not interested in viewing a battle between the “bigots” and the “loonies”.  Matt Walsh, a writer for the Daily Wire added this blistering comment:  “Now they’re trying to cancel people for not wearing a gay pride patch, this is always the trajectory for the Left.  First they demand tolerance, then acceptance, then celebration, then participation.  Learn to say no to these people or it will never end.”  The Tampa Bay “five” deserve praise.  Their personal choice does not warrant criticism.  Former NFL star, Benjamin Watson put things in the proper perspective in saying that “It is imperative that sports teams never force employees to participate in messaging and displays outside of sport specific obligations. . . . I applaud these men for standing in love and truth and for supporting their convictions.”

In certain political circles, Sarah Spain’s harangue would qualify for “hate speech.”  But people in the media are treated differently in accordance with their political views.  Legendary pitcher Curt Schilling holds the record for the best winning percentage in post season play with 11 wins and only 2 losses.  His weekly radio show raised $100,000 a year for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease).  His stature as a major league baseball player and philanthropist, however, was not as important to ESPN as political correctness.  He was fired because he made the unforgivable “mistake” of stating that the men’s room is for men and the women’s room is for women.

The network’s executive statement reads as follows:  “ESPN is an inclusive company and Curt Schilling has been advised that this conduct was unacceptable and his employment with ESPN has been terminated”.  He was excluded by a policy that demands inclusivity.  It is not easy these days to navigate in a culture of contradictions.

In an atmosphere of totalitarianism in which everyone is compelled to think and act in the same way, Christianity must be kept under wraps or else it is attacked. Christianity’s teaching simply does not fit in to a culture that has lost its moral sense.  The love that is the essence of Christianity is inseparable from disapproving sins that are injurious to the soul.  Those who would want to live by sin cannot tolerate their critics, even when their criticism is tacit.  They reach for the nearest weapon on the table, “bigotry,” if not “racism” or “sexism,” and aim it at their alleged oppressors.  Psychologists call this “projection.”  Christ was executed because people could not accept the higher standard of life that He was preaching.  They preferred Barabbas, the reprobate.  And yet, in the aftermath of the crucifixion His death liberated an endless number of souls who thirsted for His message.

One of the great attractions of sports is that it presents to both the participant and the spectator a refuge from the disorderliness of the world.  Umpires preside over the game of baseball to ensure that its rules are observed.  The game cannot be played without strict compliance to these rules.  The strike zone and the foul poles define its parameters.  Balls and strikes, safe and out, win and lose are the outcomes of each play.  The rules of baseball present a paragon of order.  A runner must get to first base before he is eligible to get to second.  The batting order is a model of fairness.  Each player, no matter his rank, status, color, or creed, must wait for his turn at bat.  We need an antidote to the chaos of life.  Sports, at least to a certain extent, provides this.  Sarah Spain’s anti-Christian accusations have no business on a sports show.  Nor do they have any justification under any circumstances.  The viewer, listening to her rant, will inevitably ask himself the question, “Who is the bigot?”

In retrospect, I think that my grandfather’s Italianization of the word “bigotry” was closer to the truth than the version we get on a particular sports program.  At any rate, it has the glorious merit of being amusing and innocuous.

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Dr. Donald DeMarco is Professor Emeritus, St. Jerome’s University and Adjunct Professor at Holy Apostles College. He is is the author of 42 books and a former corresponding member of the Pontifical Academy of Life.  Some of his latest books, The 12 Supporting Pillars of the Culture of Life and Why They Are Crumbling, and Glimmers of Hope in a Darkening World, Restoring Philosophy and Returning to Common Sense and Let Us not Despair are posted on He and his wife, Mary, have 5 children and 13 grandchildren.  

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