I was pleasantly surprised to watch this 5-minute, emotional rant from Keith Olbermann on his ESPN show calling for an end to chewing tobacco on the field of baseball. I was surprised that this was something Olbermann felt so strongly about (and it really made me miss him from his MSNBC days — this is what Keith should be doing, not sports highlights).
Olbermann, who broke down crying talking about Tony Gwynn earlier in the week, takes on the MLB Players’ Association for refusing to budge on chewing tobacco (“they are completely, utterly, indefensibly wrong,” Olbermann said.) BTW, MLB actually wants to ban it. He also takes on denialists who claim that Gwynn’s cancer had nothing to do with his chewing. (I saw one of these denialists ranting online last week myself, quoting some sketchy medical group that turns out is consistently pro-industry and pro-corporation.)
And this earlier piece by Olbermann, remembering Tony Gwynn. Hopefully, YouTube doesn’t take these videos down, but they might:
Anyway, it’s a pretty devastating coincidence that the salivary gland cancer formed in the cheek where Gwynn always put in his chew for 30 years). Like Olbermann points out, doctors 50 years ago insisted there was no link between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer.
OK, this is a struggle to transcribe this, but here is the best part of his rant, taking on the denialists:
“So one of the holier-than-thou medical groups can’t whine that we’re using scare tactics, let’s just assume that Tony Gwynn did not die by using chewing tobacco on the right side of his mouth and that the cancer of the salivary glands … on the right side of his mouth … was just a coincidence, and the cancer was caused by one of the ‘recognized’ risk factors like exposure to extreme radiation or working in asbestos mining, because we all remember those seasons Tony Gwynn skipped baseball to go work mining asbestos … with the right side of his mouth.”
Olbermann details the sordid history of tobacco advertising and sports, including baseball, and the more recent history of chewing tobacco advertising and sports. He also talks about how 40 years ago, baseball banned cigarette smoking on the field, but continues to lag on chew.
Part of the reason Olbermann feels so strongly about chew is years ago, he used to smoke pipes and cigars, believing that he it was safer than smoking cigarettes — that was until doctors found a growth in the roof of his mouth that had to be removed by a laser.
“I get it, I’ve been ‘it,’ ” Olbermann said, in response to people struggling to quit tobacco.
“Get it off the field. Cheat if you must in the clubhouses. Get it off the field. Get it off the field now. Get it off the field tomorrow. Get it off the field for Tony Gwynn.”