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Ozzie Guillen and the Professional Sports Culture, Some Thoughts

By       Message Dave Lefcourt       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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Mgr. Ozzie Guillen

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Florida Marlins, Baseball Club



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Ozzie Guillen, the manager of the Florida Marlins Major League baseball club will surely never be confused with being a former choir boy but why all the severe controversy over him speaking his mind?

By now, we've all heard about his comments on Fidel Castro, where he said," I love Fidel Castro. You want to know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that mother____r is still here."

Of course the Marlins suspended him for 5 games. The commissioner of major league baseball Bud Selig weighed in with, "his remarks have no place in our game, were offensive to an important part of the Miami community and others throughout the world". Meanwhile the Cuban expatriate community in Miami has gone apoplectic in condemning Guillen and wanting him fired.

Guillen himself has apologized profusely for his free flow of consciousness remarks saying it was "stupid, mistranslated, the biggest mistake of my life", on and on with uncharacteristic dissembling to keep his job.

But really, why do we expect our big time sports figures to be mechanical robots without opinions or just corporate shills hawking basketball shoes and men's briefs or touting some local car dealer or law firm?

I remember the likes of Jackie Robinson, Bill Russell and Jim Brown that come to mind as outspoken critics and iconoclasts (although admittedly after each had retired).

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Then there was Muhammad Ali in his prime saying he "had no quarrel with the Viet Cong" and John Carlos and Tommy Smith giving a Black Power salute on the podium at the 1968 Summer Olympics that caused much political controversy.

The latter two were both criticized at the time for their actions but it was a breath of fresh air depicting two elite athletes as consciously aware and not fitting the usual "dumb jock" stereotype.

It's funny how movie and T.V. celebrities can speak their mind politically without much flak (except maybe for a Mel Gibson whose anti Semitic remarks have [justifiably in my opinion] affected his professional career and standing).

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