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Today's Sports Report

We know that some readers do not like to hear about the world of sports, but there are a couple of news items from that arena this weekend that crossed paths with the world of politics. So...

First up is Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker. A couple of weekends ago, he delivered the commencement address at Benedictine College, a small Catholic school in Kansas. And although the custom is to keep such addresses politically neutral, Butker instead decided to go for a "greatest hits" of far-right talking points that would not have been out of place on, say, the Nick Fuentes podcast. Among the "insights" that Butker shared: abortion is evil, Joe Biden is not a real Catholic because he supports abortion, LGBTQ people are evil, DEI is evil, and the best (and really only) place for women is barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. If you would like to read the speech for yourself, it is here. It would seem that the 28-year-old Butker hasn't yet gotten to the New Testament in his Bible studies, as that's the part where it says "Judge not, that ye be judged" (Matthew 7:1).

So, what makes this a political story? It's not that some meathead said mean things about Joe Biden. No, recall that the Chiefs are the reigning Super Bowl champions, and the reigning Super Bowl champions get an invite to the White House. Since Butker is a retrograde jerk, many have suggested that his invitation should be yanked. Of course, the administration does not want to get within a country mile of that, since there are roughly 80 players on an NFL roster (along with coaches, trainers, etc.), and if you pull the invitation for one, then you set yourself up for things like "Wait. It's not OK to exercise your First Amendment rights, but it's perfectly fine to drive drunk?" Or "Wait. It's not OK to say that a woman's place is in the kitchen, but it is OK to say that professional sports are like slavery?" So, Team Biden has already made clear that the invitation is for the entire team, and it's up to the team to decide who does, and does not attend. Maybe that will be the end of it, particularly if Butker skips out, since he hates Biden anyhow.

Next up is Nate Silver. His work was once very good. These days, it is sometimes good, sometimes not so good. And the sports story that involves him is that he sent a cheap-shot tweet out over the weekend:

As the WNBA gains more attention, it's time to confront an uncomfortable reality: It's kind of weird to name a sports team (or anything really) the Fever?

The Indiana Fever is the team that drafted phenom Caitlin Clark, which means they are now the hottest ticket in the WNBA.

It is very difficult to understand why this particular team name sticks in Silver's craw. Certainly, there are plenty of team names that are more questionable than this. Just in Los Angeles alone, you have a basketball team in the Lakers that no longer plays in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and a baseball team in the Dodgers that hasn't had to dodge a single trolley in the last 70 years. Two different pro teams are named after fires that destroyed a city, the Chicago Fire and the Calgary Flames (which were originally in Atlanta). The Baltimore Ravens are named after a poem. The Buffalo Bills are named after a (fake) cowboy. The Cleveland Guardians and New York Liberty are both named after statues. The New Orleans Saints represent the original "Sin City" (before the name was largely appropriated by Las Vegas). The New York Red Bulls are named after a caffeinated beverage. The Utah Jazz (having moved from New Orleans) represent a city where there is no jazz, and where there are hardly any Black people.

The point here is that Silver has definitely moved into the "pundit" phase of his career. He may still produce good analysis, but when you can either do 30 hours of number-crunching or 30 seconds of tweet-typing to get some attention, well, the math there is pretty easy, even for someone without Silver's background. He also has a book coming out soon, which means the more attention the better.

Our point here is that there are still plenty of folks in the media who treat Silver's pronouncements like manna from heaven, but you should really take them with a few grains of salt, given where he's at these days. The same thing happened, incidentally, with Bill James, the baseball number-cruncher whose work effectively provided the springboard for Silver's career. James was once a visionary, and these days he's sometimes still a visionary, but he is also sometimes a crank. (Z)

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