Back in on a Monday after a summer vacation and there are a ton of things to talk about. Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension. NFL preseason. The Dodgers dominating. The Astros looking mortal. Usain Bolt retiring. Bryce Harper somehow not completely shredding his knee on first base. Florida suspending 7 players ahead of their season opener against Michigan. Conor-Floyd. The list goes on.
But here’s something I never thought I’d be talking about in my first day back after two weeks off – NAZIS. Yes, Nazis. Actual Nazis. In 2017.
Honestly, it’s a sports show so I figured I’d be able to make it through my entire career without talking about Nazis, but after what happened in Charlottesville over the weekend, that’s impossible. Pretty much impossible to not talk about Nazis when they’re holding torchlight rallies and murdering a 32-year-old woman. Oh, and marching around with the Detroit Red Wings logo, because apparently that’s a thing Nazis are into these days.
Nazis. Freaking Nazis. Something that millions of people around the world gave their lives to eliminate just over 70 years ago and now they’re marching in broad daylight in Charlottesville, Virginia.
And athletes have certainly taken note. Like LeBron, who tweeted: “It’s sad what’s going on in Charlottesville. Is this the direction our country is heading? Make America Great Again huh?! He said that.” And chased that with: “Our youth deserves better!! Flat out”
Or Oklahoma City Thunder big man Enes Kanter who tweeted: Your silence normalizes Nazis. Doesn’t it also makes you one?? #Charlottesville And followed that up with a pic of the Statue of Liberty and the message: America only needs one torch. It’s bigger and brighter than yours #Charlottesville
Eagles defensive end Chris Long, who went to high school in Charlottesville and went to UVA, tweeted among other things: “Insanely frustrating. Evolution will favor the self-assured… Not man babies with Tiki torches or people playing “militia””
And before you hit Chris Long with a “stick to sports,” save it. He’s not interested in that: “Some people are tired of hearing me tweet because they want me to stick to football but I like to use social media like I was a regular guy because I think I am. I don’t tell people to stick to their job when they want to talk politics. And this isn’t political. That’s the thing. Everybody is trying to turn this political. This isn’t a political issue. This is right or wrong. I believe you’re on one side or the other. For me, being from Charlottesville, no one wants to see you sit idly by and watch that stuff happen and not say anything. And I wish there was more categorical denial from some very important people in this country who have had the opportunity to strike it down but didn’t.”
Sean Doolittle, Nationals relief pitcher and former UVA player: “It’s 2017. Actual Nazis just marched on Charlottesville. We have to come together & drive this hatred & domestic terrorism from our country”
He went on to tweet: “People say “if we don’t give them attention they’ll go away.” Maybe. But if we don’t condemn this evil, it might continue to spread. This kind of hatred was never gone, but now it’s been normalized. They didn’t even wear hoods. It’s on us to condemn it and drive it out.”
I’m guessing that there are some of you who aren’t really interested in hearing this and who are already tweeting, emailing, and calling to say that this a sports show and you come here to escape all the other stuff. I hear that. I know that. I’m not going to spend all show on it. But I’m also not going to ignore it. Not when Nazis are marching in broad daylight. And not when a 32-year-old woman is dead because of it. When that happens, you say something. And you condemn it. Because as Doolittle tweeted: “There is only one side.”