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TAP: Web Feature: Off Sides. by Michael Tomasky. July 16, 2003.:
Apparently ESPN has hired Rush Limbaugh to host a pre-game show.
"ESPN's hiring of Limbaugh starts to change all that. It directly associates a sport with an ideology -- in the form of one of the most viciously ideological people in America, at that -- and tacitly tells people of the other ideology (or no ideology at all) that if they should happen to have any anger about this, well, tough, they just need to repress it. If Mark Shapiro doesn't think that's the case, he should poll his liberal friends. And if this can happen in sports, it can happen in other heretofore apolitical venues. From the network whose hallmark was once explicitly to invite everyone in, one expected much, much better than this. "
Are we asssuming that Limbaugh is a force more powerful than all those embedded in the idea of sport? It is politics of a different stripe, one where you can work with all your soul to defeat your opponent then afterwards give them a hug and a slap on the butt. It is a re-creation of the hunt. (Hence the term "recreation"?) Hunting is an activity that I think man will not give up easily. Its hardwired in the human pysche. But in the modern world we no longer need to go out and hunt for our food, no longer need to pit our skills and wit against the elements of nature to survive. So we must have a substitute, and war will just not do for the long term. So, sports it is.
What Limbaugh will enter is a world where sport is expected to transcend all else. In many ways, sports, like the weather, art or music is a way for people to connect across what might be a huge gulf of differences. I may be on the other end of the political spectrum but we can connect through art, music or sport.
The big question is whether Limbaugh represents a desire by the network to politicize their coverage of sport in the model of NASCAR, which adorns the fascinating sport of car racing with over-the-top jingoism? If so, then that bodes ill for all of us. Rush himself, without broad support from the network has little chance of conforming sport to his politics. Quite the oposite may be true.
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