After seeing a huge Old Glory rolled out over the outfield grass at Sunday morning's Braves game in Suntrust Park in Atlanta, Craig Calcaterra, lead baseball writer for NBC Sports, tweeted out a picture of the flag along with a sarcastic comment aimed at his readers who ask him to keep his politics to himself: “Will you keep politics out of sports, please. We like sports to be politics-free."
He later blogged about it, stating the government had paid pro sports teams to promote patriotism and military recruitment. Newsbusters reported on the Twitter back-and-forth which ensued between the stubbornly anti-military Calcaterra and those who felt the sportswriter's complaint about “conspicuous patriotism" was inappropriate.
“How is the flag political? Matthew Weymar Tweeted to Calcaterra. The NBC writer responded that maybe a flag “in and of itself isn’t always political. A two-acre flag with a military flyover is saying something very specific, however.” One respondent nailed it, asking what an American flag for Democrats looks like.
Another Twitterer questioned Calcaterra's premise:
One twitterer pointed out, “You can disagree with the leaders and still support the soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen who died under that flag.”
Calcaterra shot back, “And you can support them in ways other than flying a two-acre flag, yet we routinely fail to.” He attached a photo and article link about the VA's abominable treatment of vets, and someone logically noted, “Baseball shouldn’t have a flag because the VA is in shambles?”
With an apparent chip on his shoulder, Calcaterra tweeted that criticizing a relationship between sports teams and the military gets one smeared as "unpatriotic.” Someone suggested, “You should applaud apolitical patriotism or everyone will mistake your criticisms for anti-American rhetoric.”
Another argued, “People die for our rights in this country, so yeah we’re gonna layout the flag. We’re also gonna have a military.”
Calcaterra said, “People often wrap themselves in the flag in order to achieve political ends..”
They often sneer at it for the same reason, but in any case, no one was wrapped in a flag. It was a flag for everyone present in the stadium and watching on TV, intended to unite people of disparate opinions and political beliefs under a symbol of pride in and love of country -- and yes, support for our military as well (which is not the same as support for every military venture the government undertakes). Calcaterra was the one who cynically presumed that some sinister manipulation was at play.
As one tweeter noted about Calcattera's , “This is a left-wing screed. It is not about patriotism, rather what offends your politics.”