Arthur Ashe must be spinning in his grave right now. The bizarre spectacle which was The ESPYS sports awards show sank to an all-time low. How and why is it, that the American sports cable television network ESPN heretofore the world’s premiere sports network would use its vast platform to promote transgender acceptance? Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner’s reality show transformation from a man to a dress and lipstick wearing sideshow adorned in high heels, has nothing to do with sports and little to do with courage.
The social and political landscape is already littered with LGBT firsts such as Renee Richards and Billy Jean King. The fact that ESPN and ABC would embrace and promote the absurd notion that men can become women and women can become men speaks volumes about the rapid moral decline of America and its brazen pursuit of “cultural imperialism.” I guess the writing has been on the wall for some time now. When America’s “First Gay President,” Barack Obama (May 21, 2012 Newsweek Magazine Cover) switched political horses in mid-stream, and went from an opponent to an advocate of gay marriage, it was the crack in the armor of normalcy and tradition dating back thousands of years. Obama’s flip flop on the issue essentially marked a turning point in public perception and political acceptance of policies promoting the LGBT lifestyle. Perhaps this year’s winner should have surprised no one since the 2014 winner of the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage was gay college football player and perennial NFL hopeful Michael Sam. Taken in context, this years’ winner “Caitlyn” Jenner follows a logical progression.
The ESPYS tribute to Jenner’s transgender odyssey from male to female was excruciatingly painful to watch, and served as a truly sad commentary on the state of America’s moral compass. This nation has lost its way. It’s almost as if it has bumped its head and lost its sense of direction and collective conscious. Equally disturbing are the bully tactics of the politically correct mainstream media, and the gay rights proponents in seeking to label and denounce any opposing viewpoints or beliefs as bigoted or intolerant. Sadly, the voices of self-respecting heterosexuals and religious freedom advocates have been drowned out or shamed into silence. Furthermore, the choice of “Caitlyn” Jenner to be the recipient of an award bearing his name does a profound disservice to Ashe, his legacy, and the well qualified past recipients such as Muhammad Ali, Robin Roberts, and Nelson Mandela.
For those too young to remember, Arthur Ashe was the first and only black man to win singles tennis titles at Wimbledon, and the U.S. and Australian Open. Throughout Ashe’s career in the 1960s and 70s, he endured the indignities of racism in all its myriad of blatant and subtle forms. Remarkably, Ashe responded with unbelievable self-composure, dignity and courage. By naming “Caitlyn” Jenner as the 2015 recipient of the Arthur Ashe Award, the network made a mockery of the man and the award that bears his name.
The fact that ESPN had plenty of company on the bandwagon of public opinion regarding the LGBT movement is no excuse. The lightning speed of the country’s adoption of a lifestyle that only a decade ago was considered aberrant by a majority of Americans is mind boggling. The change in public and political sentiment, no doubt influenced by a rich and powerful gay lobby, President Obama’s political flip-flop, and the recent Supreme Court decision in support of gay marriage, I’m sure weighed heavily in network executives’ minds. I surmise that the prospect of the sensationalist spectacle of the former athlete turned reality star adorned in a dress and high heels promised to be a possible ratings bonanza that the network just couldn’t resist, and one that millions of legitimate sports fans were compelled to endure.
Jenner and the network’s carefully orchestrated and meticulously crafted “human interest” story had nothing to do with sports and little to do with courage. In fact, ESPN’s adoption of the politically correct movement of the moment all for the sake of TV ratings, demonstrated if anything, a complete lack of courage. How unfortunate indeed that ESPN chose to tarnish the memory and legacy of Arthur Ashe with the sordid spectacle of a “freak show” masquerading as a display of courage.
Gerald Torrence is a lawyer, educator, writer, social and political activist, and motivational speaker living in Atlanta. You can find more insightful opinions from TheTruthTeller at the-truth-teller.com. You can follow Gerald on Twitter @tttspokentruth.