(Rodstar of Rebel Diaz checks in with this editorial on Ozzie Guillen, and the trouble the former White Sox manager faced after comments regarding Fidel Castro.)
Anybody that has grown up in Chicago and or been a longtime sports fan is familiar with the outspoken style of current Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen. The former White Sox shortstop and manager that led the Southside team to win the World Series in 2005 is no stranger to controversy. However, the controversy he found himself in this week was something different than usual. In a recent Time magazine interview he was quoted as saying that “He loved and respected Fidel Castro.” While this type of comment from Guillen is not new, the fact he said it as manager of The Miami Marlins is what caused the huge uproar. Little Havana, where the new Marlins stadium is located, is home to a large and economically powerful Cuban American exile community, which in no way was going to accept the praise of a man that apparently has caused them so much harm.
What we saw in Miami was an explosion of media outcry, politicians making public statements to please their voters, and nothing short of a demand for Ozzie Guillen’s head on a dinner plate. What followed was Guillen not only making an unusual apology, but a man publicly fighting for his livelihood on a nationally televised press conference. Apparently, an apology was not enough as Guillen was also given a 5 game suspension by The Miami Marlins. Ironically, the same lack of freedom of speech that the Cuban American exiles claim that Castro has taken away from them has been practiced in this incident.
What we witnessed was once again the reality check that politics don’t belong in sports unless they are the politics that agree with the oppressor. We are constantly bombarded with politics in our sports. Whether it’s with images of U.S Soldiers before NFL games, with the National Anthem before baseball games, with images of Nolan Ryan sitting next to war criminal George Bush at Texas Rangers games etc. However historically it has been proven that any type of political ideas or statements that disagree with the agenda of capitalism will be shut down immediately. Sports and capitalism go together in this country like America and Apple Pie. Look at all the endorsement money, the corporation named stadiums, the billionaires who own the teams and the politicians they are in cahoots with. We can’t forget Michael Jordan’s statement in the 1990s, in which he refused to support a Democratic Party candidate because “Republicans buy Nikes too.”
We cant talk about Ozzie Guillen’s current situation and not talk about John Carlos and Tommy Smith, the two track and field athletes who in the 1968 Olympics stood up at the medal stand and gave the world a Black Power fist up salute. They were blackballed from sports and their lives post that moment were made impossible by the press and racist bigots. Or what about NBA and NCAA star Chris Jackson who changed his name to Mahmoud Abdul Rauf and was heavily attacked for refusing to stand for the National Anthem? Craig Hodges, the defending 3 Point Champion and NBA Champion Chicago Bulls backup guard was blackballed from the NBA for showing up at the White House wearing an African dashiki and presenting then President George Bush Sr with a list of demands from Chicago’s Black community. He never played in an NBA game again. Or what about Pittsburgh Steelers and former University of Illinois running back Rashard Mendenhall, who caught heavy backlash and lost his endorsements due to a tweet that questioned the “celebration of Bin Laden’s death?” Muhammad Ali who stood up against the war, spent 3 of his prime boxing years outside of the ring for refusing to go to a war he felt was unjust.
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