On this long President’s Day weekend, in the midst of Black History Month, we once again find that February is broken. While the Chicago Cubs were rained out of their full outdoor activities down in Mesa (seriously, Arizona, get it together…but hey, cacti and desert animals need rain, too!), it was lovely here in Chicago, so much so that I took the family out to the park and we got to hang out in nature (albeit with a slight hint of pollution) and play at the playground. So that was fun.
It was not quite a Sunday fun day for former Cub Dexter Fowler, however:
Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler is among the people not thrilled with President Donald Trump's attempts to… https://t.co/d0N7gximKC
— Mark Saxon (@markasaxon) February 18, 2017
Yes, that tweet was time-stamped on Saturday, but the comments are horrible, and came to light on Sunday when the Best Fans In Baseball parody account revealed many of the responses to Fowler’s statements. I won’t post them here because they’re pretty bad, but suffice it to say that we had a few themes going here:
- Stick to sports!
- This is a poor representation of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team.
- I don’t like Fowler anymore.
- Assorted racism/elitism.
That was just from perusing one of the various images, because I didn’t want to deal with the rest. At that point, we delivered a statement of our own on Twitter…
— WorldSeriesDreaming (@WSDreaming_Cubs) February 19, 2017
Some folks on Facebook may have mistaken this to mean that we were calling out Cubs fans (and to be fair, as others have suggested, all fan bases have bad eggs), but in our experience, many fans have shared our affection and appreciation for Fowler’s services while with the Cubs. The thing is, everyone is entitled to have an opinion, as long as it is not too unreasonable. The problem arises when opinions clash and lead to escalated arguments that can no longer be classified as debate; you see, debate requires folks to maintain a level of civility and courtesy in an effort to bring one’s opponent over to your side.
The way the article’s headline was worded probably did no favors, and it goes without saying that most people (yes, even YOU, who may or may not be reading this right now) just kind of glance at the title and react before reading the context. So for our Cliffs notes, Fowler was referring to how the current political climate may prevent him from visiting his wife’s family, as his wife is of Iranian descent and her family resides in Iran. This is not necessarily a political statement, but one of lament because one may not be allowed to visit with one’s family, which kind of seems like a big deal no matter who you voted for, if you think about it. Yet, dozens (if not more) Cardinals fans (I assume) took it upon themselves to rail against Fowler’s very reasonable (in my opinion, anyway) take on the situation. Take this, for example:
I know it is common phrasing in sports but it is really gross in general. But esp referring to a black man as property is not a good look. pic.twitter.com/5C7VYDEwjF
— dabynsky (@dabynsky) February 19, 2017
Dabynsky is right; telling a black man that he is basically property, ESPECIALLY during Black History Month and especially in a time when rampant racism has been all but justified by the current political party in power, is horrible optics. While technically true that major league baseball players have their rights secured to one particular franchise per their contract, and many of them can be traded at will by their parent clubs, they should never be referred to personally as property, even if we use those terms in analytics piece.
For the record. I know this is going to sound absolutely crazy, but athletes are humans, and not properties of the team they work for.
— Dexter Fowler (@DexterFowler) February 19, 2017
In fact, we should probably stay away from the “p” word and call them assets. Fowler, in particular, was an asset to the Cubs during his two years in Chicago. If you follow him on social media, you realize that he is an asset to his family and his community as well. This is not someone to be reviled because he said something that should have been innocuous regarding his concern for his family.
I do realize that we are living in tumultuous times, and that we won’t always agree with each other. The times also dictate that we should not stick to sports, and when it comes to issues of their personal lives, I don’t think athletes should either.