I don’t think there’s really much to this Max Boot-Daniel Flynn kerfuffle; with no appreciation of the relative stylistic merit of the two pieces, the preference of one author over another on the part of the WSJ doesn’t seem particularly problematic. It IS fascinating, however, to see the emergent right wing narrative on football:
“Another thing he might mention is this absurd concussion lobby, which consists of these researchers in Boston and other assorted grant-grubbing academics and worry warts who are all trying hard to push this nanny state narrative,” Walker wrote. “The quarterback of that team is, of course, the NYT — but we wouldn’t want to mention them in the piece.”
The Left is at war against horrific brain injuries in football. The Left has always been at war against horrific brain injuries in football. Hell, there’s probably a union out there planning to make trouble, too.
And then this:
“He also misses out on some strong arguments in football’s favor,” the editor added, and went on to list four points in defense of football, including the lower brain-damage rate among younger players, the changes already taking place to protect players’ health, the fact that risk was an inherent part of life, and the fact that football “is a consciously AMERICAN game… part of our national identity—as much as, if not more so, than baseball.”
The “consciously AMERICAN,” is very interesting here, because of course in some sense it’s true that baseball is becoming less “American,” in the way that he’s using the term here. The development of baseball in Latin America and Asia is rendering the game more global, with all that the term implies for cultural diffusion and receptivity. Those influences are feeding back (unevenly, to be sure) into MLB, in a way that I can imagine right wing culture warriors could easily find uncomfortable. Football, despite growing popularity in Europe, remains an area of virtually uncontested American domination.