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Spectrum sports editors weigh in on pressing topics in sports

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Abu Dhabi Grand Slam host refuse to play Israeli gold medal winners national anthem

https://www.bloodyelbow.com/2017/10/27/16554502/israeli-judoka-wins-gold-at-abu-dhabi-grand-slam-hosts-refuse-to-play-his-nations-anthem-mma

TZ: I’m sure when Israeli Judoka Tal Flicker won gold in Judo at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam it was with a sense of pride for representing his home nation of Israel. I am even more confident that his pride didn’t diminish when his United Arab Emirates host refused to show the Israeli flag nor play his national anthem when he was at the podium. This is a shameful act of censoring someone's own nationality that is far too common in sports around the world. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did not recognize Palestine as a nation in their Oscar nominations until 2014, instead referring to it as Palestinian Territories. Even though the two nations have a turbulent relationship, sports have the ability to unite people under a common act and by doing this it just gets turned into a political statement of intolerance.

JT: This seems hardcore on Tal Flicker’s end. He went into the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam and competed against some of the best judo practitioners in the world. But not only did he compete, he won the whole thing in the 146 pound division. And not only did he win in his division, he won in a country that hated him. It was not Flicker’s choice to be born in Israel, but it was his choice to take a negative and turn it into a positive. If any tensions between the two countries are going to be resolved, sports is a great way to start. Sports have a way of bringing people together for a common love. Flicker could have gotten upset and walked out of the event and nobody would have blamed him. But instead, he put Israel on his back and did it respectfully. The Abu Dhabi Grand Slam should be embarrassed.

DP: This is just wrong. Abu Dhabi tournaments are supposed to be the pinnacle of achievement in combat sports like judo and jiujitsu. Flicker reached the peak and the tournament itself turned it’s back on him. If local fans are offended by the symbols then there’s nothing the tournament could do but by blocking the symbols altogether they bear the brunt of the responsibility. Since the tournament, the UAE Wrestling, Judo and Jujitsu Federation said that next year they will allow Israeli symbols in the tournament. Only time will tell if they keep their word. Hopefully no other athlete has to feel the disappointment of reaching such great success, only to be met with discrimination.

Ezekiel Elliott suspension process

https://sportsday.dallasnews.com/dallas-cowboys/cowboys/2017/08/17/everything-need-know-nfls-investigation-cowboys-rb-ezekiel-elliott-assault-allegations

TZ: This issue is rather complicated, but one thing that remains certain for me is there isn’t enough evidence from Elliott to prove he did not physically harm Tiffany Thompson. The evidence she has brought against Elliott is overwhelming in terms of the bruises she has shown. The league brought in investigators who concluded that Elliott violated the league’s policy. I will admit that the testimonial Elliot and his team have brought forward of a friend telling Thompson to lie to police is cause for alarm. But much of Elliott’s own defense has holes, such as saying they were not dating, yet he had been paying her rent and co-signed on her car. Though I believe Elliott deserves an appeal for due process, I do not think it will help. This whole situation is only made worse by the league's delayed ability to get the suspension confirmed before such a crucial time in the year for football.

JT: Between the constant defense Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has of his star running-back, and the lies brought forward by Elliott’s defense team by Tiffany Thompson, this entire situation has been drawn out too long. However, one thing is certain; Thompson was physically harmed and Elliott does not appear innocent. The NFL has time and time again botched domestic violence cases and Jones does not seem to care about his players lashing out against women. It is apparent that Jones has an agenda; to win football games. Nowhere in his agenda is a moral standard for how men should treat women. This case and the previous signing of Greg Hardy proves that. Without Jones’ backing, Elliott would not be in a position to repeatedly appeal the charges. Regardless, as long as Jones can make money, this won’t be the last time he stands by an abusive athlete. In my opinion, an enabler is just as bad as an abuser.

DP: Every week that Elliott is on the field, he makes everyone except the Cowboys look bad. This includes the judges who are granting his injunctions and restraining orders. Speaking of which, how on earth does a restraining order stop a suspension? Beats me. I was on his side at first because the case itself is vague and it’s hard to interpret a he-said/she-said situation that none of us were there for. But the evidence seems to keep stacking against him, the least of which being that he was involved in an assault of a DJ in a bar right before the season started. After everything the league went through with Ray Rice and Greg Hardy, I will give them credit for being decisive about Elliott’s suspension. But I think the Player’s Association is making a mockery of the situation. They are grabbing at straws to do anything to keep an alleged woman beater on the field. They need to stop backing the wrong horse and force Elliott to take his suspension.

Houston owner Bob McNair calling his players “inmates”

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-football-nfl-anthem-texans/most-of-nfls-houston-texans-kneel-during-anthem-after-owners-inmates-remark-idUSKBN1CY0WA

TZ: Bob McNair joins Jerry Jones in the Texas sports team owners disrespecting their players club. Right off the heels of Jones condemning his players for kneeling during the anthem after already having joined them on the field, McNair has gone on the record saying, “we can't have the inmates running the prison," in regards to his team. It is incredibly disrespectful for any owner to compare their players to convicted criminals, let alone ones who have to suffer Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy to help produce team revenue and wins. McNair may pay their contracts, but that doesn’t mean he owns their lives or label them as he desires. And don’t worry, Jones has already come to the defense of McNair.

JT: I recently watched “The Longest Yard” with Adam Sandler. If it were up to Bob McNair, a sequel would be made starring DeAndre Hopkins. Comparing athletes that put millions of dollars in your pockets to inmates is – to put it plainly – disrespectful. He has a hand in signing these players, he has met these players, he has shake these players’ hands and he has looked these players in the eyes. Every time he looks at them, he is not seeing an athlete or even a person, he is seeing a sack of green cash. As soon as a player wants to have feelings about something that affects their community, he wants to be able to keep them in check by shooting a gun in the air. Detaining them until they obey his every word.

DP: McNair is a moron, plain and simple. By comparing athletes demonstrating against police brutality to inmates running the prison, he has made it very clear that he either doesn't understand or doesn’t care about why the players are protesting. He also made how he feels about his players as whole very clear. The expression is actually “the inmates are running the asylum.” In this situation, it feels like McNair made a very deliberate switch. Regardless, these owners need to realize that people are paying to see the players. This situation reminds me of Donald Sterling’s racist comments and made it very clear that McNair doesn’t understand who the fans are paying to see. Here’s a hint, it’s not an out-of-shape elderly man sitting on his butt.

The sports desk can be reached at sports@ubspectrum.com.


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