Everyone who is AGAINST Freedom of Speech raise your hand. How about “finding a cure for breast cancer? Anyone opposed to THAT?…. How about “9/11”? Everyone agree that was a huge tragedy? OK, I see a few IslamoTerrorists out there shaking your heads.
How about “Ferguson”? Do we all agree on where the Moral High Ground is on that? Absolutely Not. There is considerable difference of opinion; but the NFL and now the NBA are sheepishly complicit in giving a voice to Just One Side of a very volatile issue.
How far away are we from pro and college sports letting its players “sport” pure political bumperstickers on their uniforms and by their on-field/court actions? We are a lot closer than we were a month ago.
INSERT: Individual players joining demonstrations on their own time and/or giving provocative interviews on any issue is NOT what this is about. That Freedom of Speech is unquestioned. Their popularity and marketability as product spokesmen might suffer but they are free to run that risk. When they are “in uniform” they represent their team employer and their league.
I had a queasy feeling a few years ago when the NFL started it’s annual “pink out” campaign for breast cancer awareness. My mother had a mastectomy. I think breast cancer is a very bad thing. Lets stop it. While we’re at it let’s stop prostate cancer and Alzheimer’s and diabetes and leukemia and drunk driving and, yes, lets stop domestic abuse and pedophilia too. There is a very long list of diseases, maladies, and bad stuff to get rid of.
Did you know there is actually a national organization – NAMBLA – that actively PROMOTES pedophilia? Yep. Think about what those sickos must be like next time you are people-watching at a crowded mall.
Why did the NFL select breast cancer as its official “disease charity”? Because the NFL wanted to develop its female fan base. The NFL already has plenty of male fans so no point in helping cure prostate cancer, right Commissioner Goodell?
Did you know that only a small fraction of $$$$ raised thru selling their “NFL pink stuff” actually goes for Breast Cancer Awareness? They don’t tell you that. The fund-raising organizations supporting all those other “bad things” that afflict society wish The NFL wanted to attract their constituencies too.
Unless you are in a coma, you know about The NFL & Domestic Violence. Domestic violence has been around The NFL for years. A very violent sport employs very aggressive men who resort to physical methods to resolve disagreements in their personal relationships. The NFL conveniently ignored the whole issue UNTIL one of its players got caught on a security camera beating up his fiancée. If that elevator camera had been turned off, The NFL would still be ignoring Domestic Violence.
Now we have “Hands Up” and “I Can’t Breathe”. As you know, both those catchy slogans came from recent altercations involving Law Enforcement and criminal perpetrators. Neither incident is clearly cut&dried as far as responsibility and exactly “what happened”.
If these incidents were a high school debate topic, most of us could probably defend either side. The point of this column being THERE ARE TWO SIDES on these issues.
Every pro sports league has very well-defined rules about uniforms and game attire and game behavior. How high a player’s socks can be….. what can be written on shoes….. what style cap can be worn….. what a player can do when he scores a touchdown or makes a big basket…. it is a very thorough list of Do’s and Don’t’s.
Players want to express their own personalities. The leagues want a “uniform” presentation consistent with their corporate image. If every one “does his own thing” there will be chaos. A star player was once fined $15,000 for wearing a sweatband with a message of contempt for the commissioner. Fines and penalties for excessive “celebrations” are common. …… until now.
Five NFL players for the St Louis Rams did a “Hands Up” display several weeks ago. Now NBA players are wearing “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts during warm-ups. In both cases the NFL and NBA were silent.
They quietly ignore their own printed rules because they are intimidated; fearing retaliation by their players and by a very partisan biased media.
Suppose players supporting the actions of Law Enforcement came out demonstrably doing so? What hue and cry would we see from a very liberal media and from the race-baiting industry? Those players and the teams and league would be castigated.
Tim Tebow can’t write Bible verses on his eye black…. But LeBron James can wear an “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirt ? Huh?
The vast majority of players in both the NFL and NBA are black. The vast majority of on-site spectators and corporate sponsors are white. The issue of Law Enforcement vs Black Perpetrators is essentially a Black & White issue. Certainly individual opinions on this issue do cross-over ethnic lines.
Corporate sponsors of the Rams are not happy with the acquiescence of The NFL and The Rams which they saw as opposing the other side of the issue.
Those “uniformity” rules were put in place specifically to avoid exactly what is occurring. Allowing these individual expressions of opinions on volatile issues WHILE officially representing the league and their team is a recipe for public resentment.
REINSERT: Individual players joining demonstrations on their own time and/or giving provocative interviews on any issue is NOT what this is about. That Freedom of Speech is unquestioned. Their popularity and marketability as product spokesmen might suffer but they are free to run that risk. When they are “in uniform” they represent their team employer and their league.
Now that precedents have been set as noted….. we can expect to see more such “expressions of individual opinion” in other leagues and in college sports. Players will make themselves human billboards not unlike NASCAR drivers and their corporate sponsors EXCEPT the issues being promoted AT GAMES will be offensive to a significant % of the viewing audience.
Putting this toothpaste back in the tube will be impossible. We move closer and closer to cultural anarchy in America.