Sports in a Woke ‘Utopia’

Joseph Hippolito, Disagreeing with the “progressive” narrative mandates Maoist-style humiliation.

As riots roiled the nation following George Floyd’s death, the “progressive” quest for totalitarian dominance inflicted two casualties on the NFL.

Denver Broncos’ head coach Vic Fangio and New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees had to apologize one day after stating opinions that contradicted the Leftist narrative of the United States as systemically racist.

“I think our problems in the NFL along those lines are minimal,” Fangio said June 2. “We’re a league of meritocracy. You earn what you get, you get what you earn. I don’t see racism at all in the NFL, I don’t see discrimination in the NFL. We live in a great atmosphere, like I alluded to earlier. We’re lucky. We all live together, joined as one, for one common goal, and we all intermingle and mix tremendously. If society reflected an NFL team, we’d all be great.”

Beforehand, Fangio said Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis policeman who killed Floyd, “should be punished to the full extent of the law of the crimes he was charged with” and failed “to uphold the badge and uniform he was entrusted with.”

The next day, when asked about the possible return of kneeling protests during the national anthem when the season resumes, Brees opposed the idea.

“I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country,” he said. “Let me just tell what I see or what I feel when the national anthem is played and when I look at the flag of the United States. I envision my two grandfathers, who fought for this country during World War II, one in the Army and one in the Marine Corps, both risking their lives to protect our country and to try to make our country and this world a better place. … (I)n many cases, that brings me to tears, thinking about all that has been sacrificed – not just those in the military, but for that matter, those throughout the civil rights movements of the ‘60s…

“And is everything right with our country right now? No, it is not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together, we can all do better and that we are all part of the solution.”

Yet outrage from players brainwashed by Leftist identity politics forced both men to react as if they graduated from a Communist re-education camp.

“After reflecting on my comments yesterday and listening to the players this morning I realize what I said regarding racism and discrimination in the NFL was wrong,” Fangio said in a statement. “I should have been more clear and I am sorry.

“As the head coach, I look forward to listening to the players – both individually and collectively – to support them and work hand-in-hand to create meaningful change.”

The next day, Brees groveled.

“I would like to apologize to my friends, teammates, the City of New Orleans, the black community, NFL community and anyone I hurt with my comments yesterday,” he said on Instagram. “In speaking with some of you, it breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused. In an attempt to talk about respect, unity, and solidarity centered around the American flag and the national anthem, I made comments that were insensitive and completely missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now as a country. They lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy. … For that, I am very sorry and I ask your forgiveness.”

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Brees’ wife, Brittany, went further.

“We are the problem,” she said in a statement. “Somehow, we as white America, we can feel good about not being racist, feel good about loving one another as God loves us. We can feel good about educating our children about the horrors of slavery and history.

“That’s the problem, we are not listening, white America is not hearing. We’re not actively LOOKING for racial prejudice. … We want to do better, we want to HEAR you, and we will fight for you because thinking we are not part of the problem is checking the box it means we are not doing enough. It’s our job to educate ourselves. We are sorry.” (Capitalized words in original)

This was only after the Brees family “experienced the death threats … experienced the hate,” she said in her statement.

In humiliating Brees and Fangio, the Left acts no differently than totalitarian regimes that demand every area of society to reflect their ideology – including sports.

Though all countries hope athletic success brings national glory, Nazi Germany became the first to manipulate sports for ideological and geopolitical purposes.

The Nazis used sports to glorify the “Aryan” race and prepare Germany for war. For the 1936 Summer Olympics, they spared no expense in turning Berlin into a modern Potemkin village that would impress tourists and allay their fears of Germany’s ultimate intentions.

“We must be more charming than the Parisians, more easy-going than the Viennese, more vivacious than the Romans, more cosmopolitan than London, and more practical than New York,” stated the Nazi newspaper Der Angriff almost a month before the Olympics.

Defusing suspicion belonged to a more comprehensive strategy, as Richard Mandell wrote in his book, “The Nazi Olympics.”

“The four million Berliners,” Mandell wrote, “have constant instruction from above that they had been entrusted with an obligation to demonstrate the excellence of German National Socialism to the whole world.”

Wage-and-price controls kept meals and accommodations cheap. Official interpreters roamed the streets. Hermann Goering and Joseph Goebbels threw lavish parties for dignitaries.

The Nazis even dramatically played down their anti-Semitism. The government removed anti-Semitic signs and publications. Newspapers were ordered to eliminate any discussions of race pertaining to the Olympics. The German Olympic Committee reinstated Helene Mayer, a world fencing champion and a 1932 Olympian who had been expelled from her athletic club in 1933 for having a Jewish father.

“Jew-baiting had been ordered to cease from the highest quarters,” Mandell wrote. “Evidence of persistent racialism might be, and was, interpreted as vestigial rough edges of a superseded policy.”

The result? As Mandell wrote, “almost no one escaped the impression that the new Germans were working hard, were playing hard, were at peace and would stay that way.”

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During the Cold War, the Soviet Union viewed athletes as valuable as soldiers or diplomats because victorious athletes demonstrated Communism’s superiority to the world.

As chairman of the U.S.S.R. Committee of Physical Culture and Sport, Sergei Pavlov said in 1976 that sport provides “another sphere, another criterion for evaluating the advantages of the Soviet political system.”

Promoting Communism meant creating a complex system of state-run schools and clubs to produce world-class athletes who would be technically proficient and ideologically correct. A coach’s fundamental duty was to instill what one Soviet periodical called a “high Communist consciousness” in which athletes saw themselves as “Soviet patriots irreconcilable to the enemies of socialism and Communism.”

An interview in the newspaper Sovietsky Sport with cross-country skier Lyuba Baranova during the 1980 Winter Olympics illustrates that indoctrination’s intensity:

“ ‘I mentally transferred myself to the siege of Leningrad from the first day to the last.’ When the skiing got difficult, Lyuba remembered the blockade of the city on the Neva and said to herself, ‘For the Motherland, Lyuba! For Leningrad!’ ”

Athletes need not win medals or honors to serve an ideological agenda, as Iran showed during the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.

Arash Miresmaeili, a two-time world judo champion and a medal contender in the 66-kilogram class, deliberately forfeited his first-round match because his opponent, Ehud Vaks, was Israeli.

“Although I have trained for months and now enjoy an in-form build,” Miresmaeili told Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), “I have refused to face my Israeli rival in sympathy with the oppressed Palestinian people.”

Iranian officials greeted Miresmaeili’s decision warmly and enthusiastically. Iran’s ambassador to Greece, Mehdi Mohtashami, congratulated Miresmaeili on his “courageous move to refuse to compete with a judoka from the Zionist regime,” he told IRNA. “Certainly, (the) Iranian nation considers Miresmaeili as the real champion of (the) 2004 Olympic Games.”

The chief of Iran’s Olympic delegation, Nassrollah Sajadi, asked the government to give Miresmaeili the $115,000 reward reserved for gold medalists.

Then-president Mohammed Khatami — considered a moderate by Western analysts — said in a message to Iranian athletic officials that Miresmaeili’s decision “in protest to the massacre of Palestinian people by the Zionist regime will be recorded in the history of Iranian glories,” IRNA reported.

Iranian officials timed Miresmaeili’s announcement to coincide with the opening ceremonies, where he would be the focus of attention as Iran’s flag bearer.

Fourteen years later, an Iranian soccer player epitomized the subjugation of sports to ideology.

Mehdi Taremi, a stellar forward for Iran’s 2018 World Cup team, reposted a tweet from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s Twitter account. Taremi publicly agreed with Khamenei’s declaration that Israel would cease to exist within 25 years. Israelis and Iranian opponents of the Islamist regime demanded that FIFA ban the forward for inciting hatred.

For years, the naive have promoted the cliché that sports fosters peace and brotherhood. For the totalitarian, however, sports offers an effective tool to indoctrinate and intimidate. Just ask Fangio and Brees.