Sunday, September 24, 2017

UPDATED: Time For A Cost-Benefit Analysis

Only the supremely naive would think that the extollment of athleticism is a central operating principle in professional sports. While at one time there might have been some purity to the contests, today it is all about making money, often obscene amounts, for the owners and agents of these present-day gladiators, or, as some have called them, slaves, albeit well-compensated ones.

Slaves, of course, are regarded as property, and one only has to look at the more violent sports to see that the analogy holds true. Football, despite the increasingly well-known risks of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) caused by repeated concussions, continues apace, as do hockey, boxing and a myriad of other sports that leave a legacy of early dementia, violent behaviour, and even suicide.

None of these facts will change the nature or the practice of these sports. Business is business, violence is violence, and fans would not have it any other way.

But in light of the great physical and mental consequences of such contests, it occurs to me that players can make their shortened lives and intellectual diminishment mean something. They can all take a stand by taking a knee. They can all be Colin Kaepernick and much, much more.

There are a few hopeful signs on the horizon. A few weeks ago, in a preseason game between the Cleveland Browns and the New York Giants, a white player, for the first time, took a knee.

As the anthem sounded, several Browns players knelt in what they later said was prayer. Among them was Seth DeValve, who is white and whose wife is African-American.

"I wanted to support my African-American teammates today who wanted to take a knee," he said in a post-game interview. "We wanted to draw attention to the fact that there's things in this country that still need to change."

Up to this point, taking the knee has been an act, not to disrespect the American anthem, but to protest the racism Blacks regularly experience at the hands of the authorities. Now, in light of Donald Trump's absolutely disgraceful remarks about sports figures, both at his Huntsville cult-gathering, and his childish and ongoing tweets afterwards, I believe the gesture needs to spread to all altheles and take on new meaning as a protest against the toddler in the White House whose only mission seems to be to spread division and discord.

And there are some hopeful signs in that more and more athletes are starting to speak out. Lebron James, in response to Trumpian tweets about NBA champion Stephen Curry's refusal to join his team at the White House, had this to say in a tweet directed at the Trump:
U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain't going! So therefore ain't no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!
James then explained why he wrote it:

Sports have often been looked upon as helping to unite countries. The fact that little unity exists in the United States is ample testament to the simple-mindedness of that idea. But, I believe there is a window of opportunity here in which athleticism can transcend itself.

What I have written here is probably mere wishful thinking and will likely, for various reasons, never have a hope in hell of being realized. Nonetheless, can you imagine the effect that such demonstrations of cross-cultural and cross-racial solidarity might have? At the very least, it could provoke some much-needed discussion about the state of America, and at the most, it could help increasing numbers understand that the madman they put in the White House has no place there.

This is a cost-benefit analysis surely worth undertaking.

UPDATE: Bravo, Steve Kerr. The Golden State Warriors' coach had some harsh words for Donald Trump yesterday:
“The idea of civil discourse with a guy who is tweeting and demeaning people and saying the things he’s saying is sort of far-fetched,” Kerr stated. “Can you picture us really having a civil discourse with him?”

“How about the irony of, ‘Free speech is fine if you’re a neo-Nazi chanting hate slogans, but free speech is not allowed to kneel in protest?'” Kerr added. “No matter how many times a football player says, ‘I honor our military, but I’m protesting police brutality and racial inequality,’ it doesn’t matter. Nationalists are saying, ‘You’re disrespecting our flag.’ Well, you know what else is disrespectful to our flag? Racism. And one’s way worse than the other.”


  1. "Can you picture us really having a civil discourse with him?" Exactly.

    1. There is no rational talk possible when you are dealing with the demented, Owen.