Kate Smith Controversy Embodies Modern Day Sports Absurdity

This week the New York Yankees stopped playing a rendition of “God Bless America” by a woman who raised hundreds of millions of dollars to help defeat Adolf Hitler’s Germany. And the Philadelphia Flyers covered up her statue outside their arena.


Because a disgruntled activist emailed the two teams that Kate Smith, the singer of the recorded “God Bless America,” song was potentially racist based on the lyrics to songs she sang back in the 1930’s. The songs, which are considered satire by many — that is, they existed to humorously ridicule racism in the 1930’s, not glorify it according to many – were frequently sung by famous singers both black and white in the 1930s.

But that doesn’t matter.

Smith, who has been dead since 1986, and was awarded the presidential medal of freedom by Ronald Reagan in 1982, was an accused bigot with no ability to defend herself against the accusation.

Even though, you know, according to her New York Times obituary: “No single show-business figure even approached her as a seller of War Bonds during World War II. In one 18-hour stint on the CBS radio network, Miss Smith sold $107 million worth of war bonds, which were issued by the United States Government to finance the war effort. Her total for a series of marathon broadcasts was over $600 million.”

Now six hundred million dollars is, plainly, a lot of money no matter when it was raised, but since we’re taking old actions and putting them in a modern day context that $600 million Smith raised to fight Hitler in World War II would equate to nearly $11 billion dollars in today’s money.

$11 billion!

Smith also traveled over 520,000 miles to entertain American troops serving overseas and battling Hitler.

Now I know it’s popular on social media for modern day social justice warriors to argue that current American politicians are Nazis, but even those people would have to acknowledge that it’s better to actually, you know, help beat real-life Nazis by raising more money than any other entertainer of your era than call people they disagree with on social media Nazis. (Sadly, maybe they wouldn’t. A RT calling a politician you disagree with a Nazi is the modern day equivalent of storming the beaches of Normandy, y’all. It’s basically the same thing!)

But none of that history matters because if someone emails a nearly hundred year old allegation of racism in 2019 we have to immediately pretend that accused person never existed and erase them from public life.

Don’t believe me?

The Philadelphia Flyers didn’t just ban the playing of Smith’s singing they covered Kate Smith’s statue in the parking lot outside their venue as you can see from the above photo.

Seriously, this happened in 2019.

How scary is this? A couple of people email a team allegations and the next thing you know the team tries to erase that individual’s existence.

For those who ask why a story like this matters, it’s because of the precedent that’s being set. When you respond in this manner to a social justice warrior allegation, you don’t put out the fire of their outrage, you encourage it to continue and move on to the next target.

These perpetually aggrieved and offended people are never happy and satisfied, they just move on to the next outrage and repeat the process over and over again.

Now you might find it a bit strange that Kate Smith has a statue at all outside the Flyers arena, but Smith’s connection to the Flyers has become a part of team lore. When they played Smith’s “God Bless America” in the arena, a tradition that began in the 1960’s, their team record was outstanding. So the trend grew, eventually leading to Smith herself attending big games and singing before the games commenced. After Smith sang before the Flyers 1974 Stanley Cup championship, she’d become such a fan favorite that she got her own statue, a part of team legend and lore.

But that all changed this week with both the Yankees and the Flyers when team executives panicked over a few emails.

I want you to think about this for a moment — what kind of person scours the recording history of a woman dead for over thirty years to complain about a song recording nearly 100 years old? Is that person a normal, sane and representative example of modern American life or is that person a pathetic loser crank obsessed with being a victim?

I think we all know the answer.

So why do we keep kowtowing to the worst people in our society?

Especially when evidence reflects that Americans of all races, ethnicities, and religions are sick of these kinds of people infecting their own particular brand of cultural division upon the rest of us.

In fact, according to a recent Pew Research Report — you can read the entire report here — which is summarized by The Atlantic if you are too lazy to read the entire thing:

“Among the general population, a full 80 percent believe that “political correctness is a problem in our country.” Even young people are uncomfortable with it, including 74 percent ages 24 to 29, and 79 percent under age 24. On this particular issue, the woke are in a clear minority across all ages.

Youth isn’t a good proxy for support of political correctness—and it turns out race isn’t, either.

Whites are ever so slightly less likely than average to believe that political correctness is a problem in the country: 79 percent of them share this sentiment. Instead, it is Asians (82 percent), Hispanics (87 percent), and American Indians (88 percent) who are most likely to oppose political correctness… Three quarters of African Americans oppose political correctness. This means that they are only four percentage points less likely than whites, and only five percentage points less likely than the average, to believe that political correctness is a problem.”

Think about this data for a moment, in an age when we are told that we agree on almost nothing, 79% of the American public believes that this country is way too politically correct, including a huge majority of all races.

Yet stories like these keep arising.



Professional sports teams are so afraid of being called racist by a few malingering losers — and the sports media that artificially inflates controversies like these and makes them seem more valid than they are — that they undertake drastic actions based on a few emails.

That’s the only way to explain these statements from the teams.

Quoth the Flyers:

“We have recently become aware that several songs performed by Kate Smith contain offensive lyrics that do not reflect our values as an organization. As we continue to look into this serious matter, we are removing Kate Smith’s recording of “God Bless America” from our library and covering up the statue that stands outside of our arena.”

They covered up her statue! The woman who raised over $11 billion to help beat Hitler!

I mean, what world are we living in?

Meanwhile the Yankees stated as follows:

“We have been made aware of a recording that had been previously unknown to us and decided to immediately and carefully review this new information. The Yankees take social, racial and cultural insensitivities very seriously. And while no final conclusions have been made, we are erring on the side of sensitivity.”

The Yankees didn’t have their first black player until 1955. The Philadelphia Flyers didn’t have their first black hockey player until 1974. Are the Yankees and Flyers racist organizations today because it took them so long to make these decisions?

Of course not.

Like every part of American society these teams have evolved.

So why are they continuing to judge historic figures by modern day standards that arise after their deaths as opposed to their own standards back in the past? And why in the world does anyone assume that by playing a popular version of “God Bless America” that the Yankees or the Flyers are endorsing every statement ever made by the singer of the song in her life? Especially statements made nearly a hundred years ago.

I’d hoped that sports leagues and teams were becoming more intelligent after the way the NHL responded to the most recent controversy involving St. Louis Blues goalie Jordan Binnington’s old “offensive” Tweets:

“These are five-year-old social media posts from a Player who wasn’t even a part of the National Hockey League at the time,” the NHL said. “While we certainly don’t condone public comments that can be perceived as insensitive, we haven’t seen anything to this point that would cause us to take any kind of action in response to these posts.”

This should be the response to every social media controversy.

In fact, I think the person who is trying to make controversies like these public should also be pilloried in the public square. Because, guess what, the people seeking to divide us with controversies like these almost always have bigger skeletons in their own closets.

Do you know why?

Because they’re human too! We’re all imperfect.

If someone said something on social media before you employ them, shouldn’t this be the standard employed by every team and league?

I think so.

And it’s certainly what most Americans believe.

Hell, look at the state of Virginia. The Democratic governor of the state, a white man, may have posed in a racist photo in his medical school yearbook. Then the lieutenant governor, a black man, was accused of sexually assaulting two black women. Then the attorney general admitted he put on blackface to perform in a college party.

The media was in an uproar, surely all three men would have to step down, right?

Except…nothing happened.

And the national media disappeared and the story receded into the background.


Because the residents of the state of Virginia didn’t think any of the men should lose their jobs. A majority of black Virginians in particular didn’t think the governor should step down. And a majority of Virginian’s also didn’t believe the lieutenant governor should have to resign based on allegations of sexual assault that weren’t accompanied by criminal charges.

That’s because most of us have common sense.

We don’t judge a person based on what they did — or have alleged to do — decades ago, we judge them by what they do today. And when we do that, guess what, we don’t judge them by any one word or sentence or individual photo or act, we judge them based on the totality of their actions.

Every day, every week, every month, and every year for the past fifteen years that I’ve made a living as a public figure I’ve gotten dozens (and sometimes hundreds or thousands) of emails, Tweets, Facebook messages, and radio phone calls complaining about something I’ve said or written.

And do you know what I do with all of them?

Ignore them.

Do you know why?

Because I know the vast majority of the American public — majorities of every race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and ethnicity — is tired of our false outrage culture and even if they don’t agree with every opinion I have, they appreciate the fact that I share my honest opinion every day.

They know that you can’t let the perpetual cranks and the perpetually aggrieved win, you can’t apologize for being human.

And you can’t cover up the statue of a woman who raised hundreds of millions of dollars to defeat Adolf Hitler because a couple of emailers are professionally outraged over what she did nearly a hundred years ago, before she helped to defeat the greatest scourge of her era.

Actions like those undertaken by the Flyers and the Yankees aren’t about making America more unified, they’re about tearing us all down and pitting us against each other.

In almost every instance if you refuse to apologize, stories like this just go away.

The absolute worst thing you can do is encourage the whiners.

Yet that’s what this country just keeps doing, time after time.

It’s past time for the silent majority of reasonable Americans to take back control of our country and our sports and kick the perpetual cranks to the curb.

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.