In his recent article, Why I’m Canceling my SI Subscription, Andrew Klavan is up in arms about the supposedly hostile leftism of culture — Sports Illustrated in particular. It begins:

I am going to let my subscription to Sports Illustrated lapse when it runs out this year. I hope lots of other people will do the same. Like too many other publications, the magazine has become dishonest, dishonorable and even occasionally despicable in its conformist, lockstep left-wing bias. Republican politicians and conservative positions are routinely insulted in articles having nothing to do with either. Yawn-inducing left wing predictability is brought to the discussion of every issue. No SI writer is allowed to disagree with leftism ever. Despite its great photographs and occasionally good athlete profiles, the magazine has remade itself into crap in the name of political conformity.

For me, the Super Bowl issue with its smarmy and poorly reported article on religion in football was the last straw. The article was not an offense to God, it was an offense to journalism. Mark Oppenheimer, a left wing anti-religion writer for the left wing New York Times, among other left wing venues, does the left wing hit job on football players of faith. …

Despite all that overblown rhetoric, he cites just one one example from the article. Here is the offending quote:

It’s clear that for a substantial number of athletes and coaches, there is no tension between being a Christian and being an aggressive athlete. On the contrary, many of them argue that football builds character and thereby makes a man more of a Christian — a commingling of faith and football now accepted by fans.

But is that a mistake? Just 50 years ago such coziness between public Christianity and football would have seemed absurd. Athletes were nobody’s idea of good ambassadors for religion; they were more likely to be seen as dissolute drinkers and womanizers — more the roguish Joe Namath than the devout Roger Staubach.The aggressive, violent play preached by coaches of an earlier generation was accepted as natural precisely because sport was pagan, not Christian. Christianity was peaceful, charitable and pious. Sport was bloody, ruthless, impious.

In the 1950s and 60s that antagonism began to soften…”

That’s it. Not only does that example not support Klavan’s hyperventiliating about left-wing bias, but it also equates public expressions of Christianity by private individuals with conservativism, such that any skepticism about that is nothing but left-wing bias. In fact, (1) most political leftists are Christians, and (2) many devout Christians are uncomfortable with the loud expressions of faith often heard from football players.

Are conservative Christians unaware of just how silly this makes them look to anyone outside their echo chamber?

Alas, I think not. Lord have mercy on us!

  • Jim May

    It’s worse than that. By attacking secularism as Leftist and doing such a bad job of it, he achieves the following:

    1. Reinforces the association of the Left with secularism, and thereby to Enlightenment values, a claim the Left is not able to credibly make on its own

    2. He adds noise to the discussion that numbs the audience to genuine criticism of Leftist media bias. He therefore ends up helping to *shield* the Left in media, because people will conflate it with this sort of thing.

    Ideological causality is a bear. Klavan certainly believes in all sincerity that he’s attacking the Left, but that is not what he actually achieves.

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