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I go to Newark a lot for work and often pass by the Prudential Center where there is a big statue of Martin Brodeur, legendary star of the Jersey Devils hockey team.

Christine Flowers mug

Flowers

Being a lifelong Flyers fan, I would never miss the opportunity to stick my tongue out, or do any of those juvenile things that make life enjoyable at 57.

Recently, though, I made a point of taking my picture in front of Brodeur’s statue and then put it on Facebook with the caption: “My new team #BringBackKate.”

Other than delighting my dear friend Arlette who has sung the national anthem at their home game for years, I know this had little impact in the ongoing conversation around the Flyers removal of singer Kate Smith’s statue after concerns about some of her lyrics.

But it made me feel good, and was an indication of how I’ve evolved from a girl who loved her sports teams with unquestioning devotion. Because of the Kate Smith debacle, I no longer support the Flyers.

I’ve also stopped supporting the Sixers, whose co-owner Michael Rubin has befriended rapper Meek Mill. Rubin and Mill have set out to reform the criminal justice system in Philadelphia. I don’t deny that it needs reforming.

But Mill isn’t some random kid who was crushed by a cruel system. He was convicted of drug and weapons charges, and then proceeded to violate probation regularly, over a period of 10 years.

As recently as a few weeks ago, Rubin used social media to attack Judge Genece Brinkley — the judge who sentenced Mill to prison — because she wouldn’t allow Mill to attend a Sixers playoff game in Toronto. He called her “obsessed” with Mill. The only obsession I saw was on the part of Rubin and Mill, who think that rules should be bent for artists with felony convictions.

And given the way that the Flyers played this year, it’s no surprise I don’t have to avoid their playoff run. Which means I’m essentially down to two teams, and if Malcolm Jenkins keeps loving on Meek Mill the way he has in the past and if Jeffrey Lurie doesn’t get them to stop playing his “Dreams and Nightmares” in which every other words is bleepable, I might have to reconsider my love affair with the Eagles. (Even though it might kill me.)

But boy do I miss the days when I didn’t know what political party my favorite players belonged to, or whether they liked the current occupant of the White House, or their sexual orientation, or their immigration status, or any of the other things that have nothing whatsoever to do with the beauty of the respective games.

Jackie Robinson was heroic. So was Jesse Owens. And Althea Gibson. And Arthur Ashe. And Martina Navratilova.

But the difference between those athletes and the current crop of social justice warriors/players is that the heroes from the past broke social barriers and worked toward a more perfect justice by being the best they could be in their fields. They did it with courage and dignity — not with outrage, accusation and obscene lyrics.

A week or so ago, Gino Marchetti died. When I was born in Baltimore in 1961, he was a football god, leading the Colts to championships. He later became known as the guy who gave us the Gino Giant burger, a fond memory from my Logan childhood.

It may seem trite, but I miss the days when the most controversial thing about a player was that he peddled cholesterol-filled meat products.

So hard as it is, I’m learning to love the Devils. I haven’t settled on a basketball team yet, and my fingers are still crossed about the Birds.

And God bless the Phillies. Now can we get Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame?

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Christine M. Flowers is a lawyer and columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News. Readers may send her email at cflowers1961@gmail.com.

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(45) comments

martian2

don't know what is going on but I am having trouble opening the columns by Lowry for some reason. Any other column is no problem, but just Lowry will not open for some reason, anyone else having that problem?

oldhomey

As I said elsewhere, martian, I had the same problem yesterday, unable to open either Lowry column. Today I could open the most recent one, but still not the earlier one. The recent one is typical Lowry. I doubt the earlier one is any different, if you are searching for profound political insight. Lowry doesn't have it.

capedcrusader

Yes. Lowry's won't load... 5/19/19.

oldhomey

ditto for me. I was able for a day to open the most recent one, but now both come up blank when I open the link.

capedcrusader

It would be nice if the paper could hire an apprentice Editor. They have another article (Presidential drinks) printed twice. Let's have a little oversight please. Actually, I would be happy if they would just enforce their standards and give people like "Czeczok" and "A Veteran" the boot when all they do is call people names and provide nothing to the discussions.

Cassandra2

I'm unable to open Lowry's column today. I think the Tribune webmaster has finally tired of Lowry's nonsense and is making it impossible to access. Well done!

crank

I am having no trouble opening or reading Lowry's columns.

Indeed, I think the Tribune webmaster has tired of someone's nonsense. The difficulty seems to be affecting only some users. I wonder if any accounts will be disabled soon.

oldhomey

You feeling a little paranoid that your accounts will be disabled soon, crank? You do skate on thin ice often, that is for sure.

crank

Seems like you might be a little paranoid. Your being tracked on the internet and all...every click.

oldhomey

While I don't entirely agree with them, most of the tracking on me on the internet are by enterprises that can argue that they have my tacit approval of tracking me because I avail myself of their "free" services, crank. You don't have that claim on me.

crank

You accessed my server, I simply logged the access and your info same as every other web site you visit. Clearly, this is something you remain confused about. You’re just POed that I used the info to detect your use of multiple accounts on this web site. Perhaps you’ll stop the charade or the La Crosse Tribune’s web master will suspend your accounts.

Cassandra2

LOL! Oh, Crank, anyone with a lick of sense knows that's not how the internet works. Unless you're infecting users of a website with tracking software (a federal crime, BTW) you're just lying. But that isn't surprising.

crank

Who says oldhomey has a lick of sense? He claimed I was somehow tracking him on Webster’s dictionary, for crying out loud. He also claims I have “dozed” him but he doesn’t seem to know what it means. He claims I have accused him of “doxxing” me but I know he doesn’t possess the skills and would therefore NEVER make such an accusation. Anyone with a lick of sense would not randomly accuse every single person who disagrees with his opinions of posting under numerous screen names without making someone suspect they themselves were doing that very thing. It would not surprise me if oldhomey has malware infections on his computer because he is stupid, not because I’m ‘tracking’ him. I am fully aware Federal law prohibits such activity. He (and you) seem eager to cover up for the dummy’s sock puppet show by claiming I’m at fault. Web server logs...my web server...which he visited a number of times because he was stupid. He scrolled through an article I mocked up, picked it apart in a comment. The article was very old and past the point where any ‘normal’ person would continue to bicker....except oldhomey. He eagerly clicked the link. The referrer in the log indicated the click came from this site. He was the ONLY person to visit it. That is how I identified his computer from all the others which might click links to one of my servers. Nothing had to be installed on his computer except for a cookie (common and not illegal) which flagged him and his sock puppets each time they visited. No malware was installed. No laws were broken. I relied on the stupidity of a man who will continue bickering and commenting on articles others have long since stopped reading...dozens and dozens of comments.

I should have done it a few more times! I might have found you to be the Russian troll bot you accuse other of being. I suspect, you aren’t stupid or obsessive enough to click on hyperlinks just to argue with people on the internet. Oldhomey IS stupid enough and obsessive enough to do just that.

This was sport for me. I am laughing at every feeble attempt he makes at denying it.

The webmaster hosting this site has the ability to track every click made on the domain(s) ‘he’ controls. ‘He’ can use cookies and has account information given when users register for the site. ‘He’ can identify the sock puppet accounts and, given the changes in the login code and changing behaviors on various pages here, I wonder if some accounts might be gone soon. Will you return as Cassandra3? Will Redwall get kicked because oldhomey keeps ‘reporting’ him or will it backfire on the old troll when he finds his own account suspended or at least his puppet accounts of his ‘friend(s)’ gone?

You guys are SO much fun! [lol]

oldhomey

Crank, I did not "access" your server. You put up a link to an article on the internet in one of your posts that you claimed proved your point and urged those you disagreed with to open it and read it. I opened it, read it, it did not prove your point. You came back and said that you put it up so that you could trace anybody who linked into it, using software that you possess. I say balderdash. Moreover, I know you did not do this simply because I have one computer, one account with this newspaper, no other identities for purposes of commenting on these boards than "oldhomey". You refuse to show that you have "proof" that I have other accounts and identities. Why? You know why. You are lying, hoping that you will intimidate me and others on here who routinely expose the lies you launch daily on these comment boards. You know what that makes you? A slimeball.

crank

And you, oldhomey? When you consistently lie and accuse others of possessing multiple accounts? Do you do this to intimidate others?

These protests and twists and denials of yours are very telling. I took steps to confirm my suspicions and caught you. You blindly accuse others... but you don’t possess the proof you’re demanding from me. What does that make you, slimey?

I am laughing at you! Such a fuss you’re making. You’ve been found out, you despicable little fella. I caught you because your obsessive need to bicker became so predictable. Laughing at you., troll. You couldn’t help yourself.

I hope the web master is paying attention and suspends your extra accounts, old troll.

DMoney

So let me get this straight--so let's completely ignore the value, meaning and beauty of this song and focus on the fact that it's singer may have been racist about 90 years ago? Seems logical to me......

Francesca Sanchez Capaldo

An old, dead white lady singing "God Bless America" makes this reaction but no problems with Meek Mill performing "F*ck B*tches Get Money". Something's wrong here

oldhomey

I agree with Francesca. I suppose that makes me an old fogy, but, what the hey! That is what I am, I guess. I like sports, I even idolize the best athletes. But I couldn't give two hoots what they think about current politics, whether they are of my bent, which is liberal, or conservative. The same with actors and other celebrities. I respect them when they act out their convictions with support for good, humane causes, like battling against childhood diseases, trying to give support to needy children and neighborhoods and so on. But if one of them starts preaching their political beliefs, I pay little or no attention. Their opinions are just as good as mine or anybody else's is, but their celebrity is not going to lift up its profundity in any way whatsoever unless, perhaps, the subject is the sport they are involved in.

DMoney

Completely agree.

Cassandra2

Classic whataboutism. You get a gold star for the day, Francesca!

DMoney

You didn't refute her ironclad point.

Cassandra2

Her point was to change the subject. I gave her a gold star for her effort.

DMoney

Her point was the hypocritical duality of the values of the left. Celebrate one modern song that encourages violence, sexism, greed and erase another song from almost a century ago that is revered by most Americans because it's singer also sang racist songs at a time when most Americans were openly racist.

PhysicsIsFun

What a totally clueless piece of writing. She might as well just say, "shut up and dribble."

DMoney

Is that not their job? Is that not why they create so much demand that many of them make millions? I, and most sports fans I know including extremists from all political points of view, do not shell out hard earned money to see someone voice their political view. Giannis seems like a nice, great guy. But I want him to play great basketball. I never want to know his political affiliations.

PhysicsIsFun

I do not see any of these athletes not doing their job. In our country we have a right to an opinion. If they choose to express their opinion publicly and the media decides to cover it then what is the big deal? You don't have to listen. I am sure there are plenty of athletes I disagree with. I certainly do not look to any of them for guidance, but I do admire some of them for their courage.

DMoney

Fair enough

martian2

well D since you are a strict constitutionalist, if its not in the constitution that athletes shouldn't speak out about anything, then you should have no problem with it. Only the constitution matters. Don't know why you get so fired up about something as trivial as sports figures speaking out, just keep reading the constitution.

Cassandra2

More like "shut up and dance."

Jean Baptiste Breau

Clear the author of this piece knows nothing about the history of sports in the United States or the world if she wishes to keep politics of of sports. Sports is nothing but political. The decision of the 1936 US Olympic team to go to Hitler's Berlin was political. The decision of Jesse Owens, Ralph Metcalf, John Woodruff, Mack Robinson (Jackie's older brother) and the other 14 African Americans who attended or participated was a political decision to stand against Nazi supremacy and racism in the United States (people who thought black incapable of competing with whites). Ms. Flowers would not have liked Jackie Robinson after his first season because the Dodgers and Branch Rickey gave Robinson license to fight back; he often did. In his autobiography, "I Never Had It Made," Robinson, "I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know I am a black man in a white world." Robinson also believed that he could not fully live as a free person until other black people in the US were free from racial discrimination. Arthur Ashe not only defied Jim Crow in the United States, he attempted to confront Apartheid, failed, and then called for an all out ban of racist South African teams and athletes from the Olympics and other professional sports tournaments and competitions. This are all things that are documented in the well-researched biographies and autobiographies of these athletes and activists. All supported the Civil Rights Movement in their own way and any one who doesn't rely of Hollywood romanticism or books about these individuals targeted at children would know this. Perhaps that most horrifying statement in this exercise in alt-facts is that the author would rather take the country back to "1961." Pre-1964 Civil Rights Act, pre-1965 Voting Rights Act, and when Women and Men of Color and White Women "knew their place." Fighting against willful ignorance like this, is why some kneel and increasingly why athletes protested in 1960s and today.

oldhomey

Ahem. Jean, without going into it chapter in verse, as you did -- and did quite well -- Ms. Flowers did acknowledge her respect for what these people did as pioneers of their race and gender. I am not trying to carry her water, but I don't think she was being willfully ignorant here.

I don't look to athletes and other celebrities for their considered political opinions, but I can't deny that at times a luminary can become a leader and a beacon for social change. Muhammad Ali is as good an example as any. Ali didn't hold press conferences about his political beliefs, but he lived them. When he was called before his draft board for induction into the army in the middle of the Vietnam War in 1967, he refused to step forward when his name was called for induction, saying he could not serve because of his religious convictions. He was hounded, prosecuted and convicted by authorities, but ultimately three years later the U.S. Supreme Court overturned his conviction.

In its decision, the Supreme Court declared: "The (Justice) Department was simply wrong as a matter of law in advising that the petitioner's beliefs were not religiously based and not sincerely held."

The court said Ali's objections to military duty was based upon "religious training and belief," the test for draft exempt status of a conscientious objector.

As such, and because he refused to bow to pressure, Ali lost the most valuable fighting years of his life in professional boxing, but he became a transformative, worldwide folk hero who remains a giant in the minds of hundreds of millions worldwide, and rightfully so. It was not because he used his celebrity to sell his cause, it was because he lived his life of moral convictions.

Cassandra2

Yeah, why can't those athletes just keep quiet and do as they're told? They're getting awfully uppity. And what's wrong with celebrating racism by playing Kate Smith? Geez, back in the day all those people knew their place and America was great. Casual racism and threats of racial violence held this country together for centuries. Now look what's happened.

martian2

LOL thanks Cassy, got a kick out of your post! I personally do not idolize any athlete, past or present. They were gifted with talent and a drive to be their best on the field or park or court or whatever. I look at them as somewhat entertaining when I have nothing else worthwhile to do. but i do not idolize them. Some were also gifted with a conscience and a sense of justice, and feel or felt inclined to share that gift also. Many athletes do have something worthwhile to bring attention to, be it social justice, or war, or the plight of the poor or migrants, or whatever. Most athletes never have to pay a price for their stance, but some do. Kapernick gave up a career thanks to collusion by owners and all he did was kneel. He even had a president breathing down his neck. When they stick out their necks, put their careers on the line for something they care deeply about, that's when I stand up and take notice. I may not agree with them at times, but I take notice and a little part of me awakens. So Ms. Flowers when it comes to athletes to idolize, best not to idolize at all, but keep an open ear.

DMoney

The athletes have the privilege of playing children's games and being paid handsomely for it. It's their J.O.B. Their J.O.B. is to perform athletically. While they have the right to individual expression, and some organizations allow this right to be exercised while "on the clock", it will alienate and discourage many fans who enjoy sports for the PRIMARY purpose that they can forget about "real life" and enjoy watching a game. So while they can take their beliefs public, the masses can take their beliefs and act accordingly as well--see NFL attendance and ratings post-Kaepernick.

Regarding the Kate Smith song--a song beloved by the vast majority of American citizens made almost 100 years ago--we are to get rid of it because someone finally found out she might have been racist. Uh huh. If that's the case, where's the limit we'll go to uncover dirt on anything/everything and ban it? Is your past perfect? Any regrets or mistakes? Let's apply the Kate Smith treatment to anything you've ever done and have it erase anything good you've ever done.

martian2

Yep I agree, athletes jobs are to perform to the best of their ability when its time to play the game. That doesn't mean they have to shut their mouths or abdicate their freedom of expression. They are just as much Americans as anyone. I don't idolize them like most do. I find them intriguing at best, maybe an oddity of nature. Being on the clock starts when the game starts. If what they do before or afterwards is legal and peaceful then so be it. You don't have to like it, sometimes I don't. I know fans want winners on the field, if that comes with a social conscience athlete, I bet they still want the winner. Remember the other day the Red Sox were invited to the white house , some didn't show up as a means of protest. I think fans are grown up enough to understand it and realize its their right. The Kate Smith song might of went too far. Bringing up her past racism is understandable, but keeping that in mind, her rendition of America the beautiful is still outstanding. Sometimes we have to find it in ourselves to forgive past personal faults.

DMoney

You literally couldn't be more factually wrong. Every sports contract contains clauses for representation of the club. Every single one. These are binding 24/7 for the entire duration of the contract. There are examples online. Many athletes are fined a lot of money for "conduct detrimental to the team" every year. Some organizations are more lienent. In those cases the fans have their choice of not participating, crashing ratings and attendence and negativity impacting all those associated with the respective league.

Regards to the song, we all have past personal faults. If we can't forgive them, within reasonable parameters, we're paralyzed. I would like to think the meaning of that song is far greater and more powerful than some who are offended by one person's opinion many years ago. But, in today's supercharged PC atmosphere, which the last administration launched, teams are really, actually banning the song. Unreal.

PhysicsIsFun

Bad behavior that brings notoriety to a business should be discouraged. I fail to see how political beliefs are examples of bad behavior. Beating up your wife, taking drugs, etc. are bad behavior. Thinking Trump is an awful president is an example of clear thinking.

oldhomey

D, I don't usually listen to athletes and other celebrities when they pontificate on their political beliefs. However, I certainly would never advocate that they should keep their mouths shut. They have every right to express their opinions, the same as you and I do. Kneeling during the national anthem is their right as an expression of protest. That expression of protest does not interfere with the game they are playing.

I agree with you that the current backfire on the song God Bless America is ridiculous. You are correct that Kate Smith's racial views has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the song, which was written two decades before her rendition of it in the late 1930s transformed it into a national sensation.

But I doubt that she was a racist, either. She is accused of recording a couple of obscure songs that referred to "darkies" in the lyrics, and the songs immediately disappeared into even deeper obscurity. Given where the culture was in the late 1930s, I expect few white Americans thought such a reference was offensive. Of course it was racist, in hindsight, but so was society in general to a degree far more than it is today.

We're still not where we should be regarding race. I have an extremely conventional mind, and I have no doubt that if I were an adult in the 1930s my racial attitudes would have reflected the norms of the time, which is to say badly. On that basis, I think it is unfair to label Kate Smith as an historical pariah, nor should it torpedo her classic rendition of her signature song. Nobody to my mind has ever sang God Bless America with the heart, brio and passion that she brought to that anthem. It should swell hearts to all who hear her sing it for as long as this nation stands.

DMoney

Again I almost completely agree except for the idea that employees under union supported and collectively bargained contract can freely express their opinion without penalty if it violates team rules. That's completely false and needs to be corrected. If the team rules define expected conduct, and you sign and violate those rules, you face fines and other punishment.

martian2

those union employees you talk about are not all the same. Each team and league has different standards and protocols. That is why there is lawyers and courts to sort it out. You can't just lump it all into one big pile and say they are all the same, and ban all protest actions by athletes.

oldhomey

It would be interesting to see how the Supreme Court, now larded with hand-picked right-wing ideologues, would rule on a case in which a private employer said it was the employer's right to deny the rights of his workers to express their political views. I don't think the framers of the constitution and bill of rights saw it that way.

Cassandra2

Rosa Parks J.O.B. was not to sit at the front of the bus. Now do you see how ridiculous you sound, D-Bag?

DMoney

She wasn't doing that as a representative of a company with defined and mutually agreed upon rules about behavior while she is commuting.

Cassandra2

Apparently the D-Bag doesn't understand how ridiculous he sounds.

DMoney

Maybe not, can you explain why it's so ridiculous C-bag?

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