Sunday, March 26, 2023

Tony Dungy’s tweet, speech shows the regressive worst in sports


It was admirable when Tony Dungy was inducted to the Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame in 2016, for he adopted sideline luminaries Invoice Parcells, John Madden, Hank Stram, George Allen and Marv Levy as coaches so honored earlier than him within the 2000s.

It was something however when Dungy accepted a talking invitation Friday on the March for Life on the Nationwide Mall. For on the annual and largest gathering of the nation’s abortion foes, he adopted on its podium, over time, Sen. Jesse Helms, antiabortion extremist Randall Terry and Donald Trump, amongst others.

To make sure, Helms was, upon his retirement from workplace in 2001, “the final outstanding unabashed white racist politician on this nation,” as the good Washington Submit political columnist David S. Broder wrote. Terry based antiabortion group Operation Rescue, which distributed a “wanted” poster for a Florida abortion doctor, David Gunn, at a rally the summer season earlier than Gunn was assassinated in 1993, shot thrice within the again outdoors his Florida clinic. And Trump did what antiabortion Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush earlier than him had been afraid of doing due to the occasion’s extremist undercurrents: He spoke live at the annual march.

But Dungy went forward along with his talking engagement, utilizing his athletic superstar coupled along with his religiosity as deodorant for a theme of intolerance.

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That got here days after a tweet by Dungy for which he was rightfully and soundly denounced, shamed into apologizing and deleting his phrases. It had amplified to Dungy’s practically 1 million followers a harmful deceit of reactionaries concerning the lengths colleges are supposedly going to accommodate scholar id variations — and about the necessity to halt them. The well-proven fabrication was in the end aimed toward disobliging the requirements of LGBTQ youngsters, and even these of youngsters of shade who must have the chance to discover their histories and have them discovered by others. It was a slap within the face to Tampa Bay linebacker Carl Nassib, whom the league has celebrated since he revealed he is gay, turning into the primary lively NFL participant to take action.

An individual at NBC informed me Monday that Dungy apologized to the “Soccer Evening in America” group, for which he’s a face. And the community reminded in a memo to employees that “… NBC Sports activities doesn’t help or condone the views expressed within the tweet and we have now made that clear to Tony. Our firm has lengthy and proudly supported LGBTQ+ rights and works laborious to make sure that all of our staff are seen, acknowledged, acknowledged and revered.”

Whether or not the league did the identical — or reacted because it did within the wake of Colin Kaepernick’s protest, when it decreed fines for any group with a participant on the sector who didn’t stand for the nationwide anthem — I don’t know. The league didn’t reply my e-mail asking for clarification on the place it stood with Dungy’s associations.

Dungy posted his remorse Saturday earlier than taking part in NBC’s playoff broadcast: “This previous week I posted a tweet that I subsequently deleted. I issued an apology however not everybody noticed it. So I’m reposting my apology right here. As a Christian I need to be a pressure for like to everybody. A pressure for therapeutic and reconciliation — not for animosity.”

He tweeted his authentic mea culpa Wednesday. It learn: “I noticed a tweet [Tuesday] and I responded to it within the incorrect approach. As a Christian I ought to communicate in love and in methods which might be caring and useful. I failed to do this and I’m deeply sorry.”

I’m not sure what “responded to it within the incorrect approach” means. Nevertheless it didn’t cease Dungy from accepting his second to face earlier than anti-abortionists on a podium frequented by white supremacists and zealots. And from there he even discovered the gall to invoke the current story of Damar Hamlin, the Buffalo Payments participant who’s recovering after suffering cardiac arrest during a game, as some form of justification for repealing a lady’s proper to decide on to finish a being pregnant.

“Individuals wished to see that life saved,” Dungy informed the March for Life flock, referring to Hamlin. “These are individuals who aren’t essentially spiritual; they received collectively and known as on God. Nicely, that needs to be encouraging us as a result of that’s precisely why we’re right here. As a result of each day on this nation, harmless lives are at stake. The one distinction is that they don’t belong to a well-known athlete, they usually’re not seen on nationwide TV.”

I do know there are some Black head coach aspirants within the NFL who would favor Dungy use this vitality and his gravitas to help their discrimination lawsuit in opposition to the league’s hiring practices, perhaps aiding the following Black Corridor of Fame coach. However aside from phrases, he hasn’t joined their trigger in motion as he has fights in opposition to abortion and LGBTQ folks.

It isn’t my intent to criticize religiosity, although Dungy has used his to pan non-Christian religions and other people whom his model of Christianity rejects. He’s an evangelical Christian who has been an outspoken opponent not simply of abortion however same-sex marriage, which he campaigned against in Indiana when he was coach of the Colts, and in opposition to homosexual folks normally, together with those that could toil as skilled athletes. He infamously said he wouldn’t have Michael Sam, the would-be first brazenly homosexual participant within the NFL, in his locker room.

That is all one more reminder that sports activities might be, has been and sometimes continues to be an agent for the other of which it’s celebrated: regression, not progress. Dungy isn’t within the sports activities world’s ballyhooed vanguard of social change irrespective of his historic achievement as the primary Black head coach to lead a team to a Super Bowl championship.

The truth is, in March he’s scheduled to remain on model as a speaker at an all-men’s conference called Men’s Advance 2023. It’s headed by evangelical Christian pastor Andrew Wommack, who argued two years ago that “homosexuality is thrice worse than smoking. We must put a label throughout their brow: ‘This may be hazardous to your well being.’ ”

Dungy ought to know going via with that look might be hazardous to his profession.

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