The NBA Should Play Basketball, Not Politics

As Americans face increasing economic pressures, social unrest, escalating crime, and the prospect of nuclear war, it would be wonderful to have a variety of comforting distractions.

In previous years, Americans flocked to movie theaters for escapism, but that simple pleasure has been destroyed by an ever-increasing appetite for “woke” morality inserted in films by the far-left Hollywood powerbrokers. The revulsion by average Americans can be seen in the anemic ratings for recent television broadcasts of the Academy Awards.

Another distraction for stressed Americans is collegiate and professional sports. Fortunately, most collegiate sports have been able to escape heavy-handed liberal propaganda. Sadly, for the past several years, professional sports leagues have eagerly embraced the promotion of “woke” messages.

For example, the National Hockey League (NHL) has promoted LGBTQ+ “pride” by asking players to wear rainbow-colored jerseys. This year, seven players decided not to wear the jerseys and three teams declined to participate in the promotion.

While the NHL Commissioner says he is going to “evaluate” the promotion going forward, it has been embraced by other professional sports leagues. In Major League Baseball (MLB), LGBTQ+ “pride” jerseys were refused by five pitchers with the Tampa Bay Rays last year. They all referenced their Christian faith as the reason for refusing to wear the shirts.

The MLB is no stranger to involvement in political activities. After the state of Georgia passed a mild election reform measure, the All-Star game was moved from Atlanta to Denver. This cost Atlanta millions of dollars in economic development that would have benefitted the city.

Supposedly, the MLB was taking a stand against a bill that would “disenfranchise” voters. Ironically, the measure had the opposite effect as voter turnout in Georgia broke a record in the 2022 midterm election.

Such political statements have also been made in recent years by the National Football League (NFL). In support of far-left activist and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, players began kneeling while playing the National Anthem in 2016.

Such gestures were highly offensive to many fans, especially military veterans, as Kaepernick espoused anti-American and anti-police rhetoric. He also praised Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, a brutal communist killer, and wore jerseys with his image.

The impact of this political activism was that the NFL lost fans, some permanently. The television ratings were down as well, as Americans expressed their disgust with the kneeling controversy.  In the years since the kneeling controversy began, the NFL has downplayed such overt political activism and some fans returned.

The lesson was discovered anew in the recent Bud Light controversy. If the customer base is ridiculed, there will be a backlash. With Bud Light, the response was quick and negative to their use of transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney in advertisements.

To save their brand, the company immediately blanketed the airwaves with pro-American “Clydesdale” commercials. In addition, the engineer of the fiasco, their Vice President of Marketing, was forced to take a leave of absence as the parent company lost $6 billion in market capitalization due to the controversial partnership.

Despite the troubled history of sports leagues and corporations partnering with left-wing causes, the National Basketball Association (NBA) was not deterred. Instead, the NBA embraced the radical left with unconcealed enthusiasm.

For the NBA, in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in 2020, Black Lives Matter (BLM) slogans were painted on the side of the court. In fact, players knelt during the National Anthem and wore slogans like “justice” on the back of their jerseys.

The NBA was not reluctant to announce their advocacy for BLM, despite the movement’s controversial founders, who embraced a Maoist political ideology. Even though Mao was an ardent communist, known for saying “never benefit oneself, always benefit others,” several of the BLM founders purchased a $6 million mansion in Southern California with “donated funds.”

To make matters worse, BLM is also well-known for its controversial attacks on the nuclear family. Former BLM leader Rashid Turner said the organization had “little concern for rebuilding Black families” and wanted to “disrupt the nuclear family structure.”

Notwithstanding these radical beliefs, the NBA donated generously to BLM-affiliated organizations and made a strong promotional tie to the movement. This was too much for legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson, who won thirteen titles as a coach and player.

In a recent podcast interview, he said, “They even had slogans on the floor, on the baseline. It was catering. It was trying to cater to an audience or trying to bring a certain audience…and they didn’t know it was turning other people off, you know. People want to see sports as non-political. Politics stays out of the game. It doesn’t need to be there.”

Jackson said he has not “watched” the NBA since the 2020 “lockdown” season. He lamented, “I am not enjoying the game, that’s too bad. There’s a whole generation that doesn’t like the game.”

Jackson’s comments created an uproar on social media as critics contended he was insensitive to the concerns of African Americans. According to radio host Bishop Talbert Swan, Jackson “didn’t mind” winning his “championships” with “mostly Black players.”  As Swan noted, “80%” of the players in the NBA are “Black.”

While he was criticized, Jackson also received support for his comments. Former Tennessee GOP congressional candidate Robby Starbuck tweeted that Jackson is “not alone in this. My oldest daughter and I used to love watching but it got too political to watch.”

Starbuck stated that Jackson is “widely seen as the greatest coach in NBA history.” No doubt, it took tremendous courage for Jackson to make his comments, knowing that it would generate huge criticism. Nevertheless, he is correct, all sports leagues have turned off their fans with their left-wing political activism.

In 2021, a YouGov/Yahoo poll indicated that almost 50% of fans changed their “viewing habits” because of inappropriate politicization.

Fans just want to watch basketball, not receive a lecture about politics or social justice.

Jeff Crouere is a native New Orleanian and his award-winning program, “Ringside Politics,” airs Saturdays from Noon until 1 p.m. CT nationally on Real America’s Voice TV Network AmericasVoice.News and weekdays from 7-11 a.m. CT on WGSO 990-AM & Wgso.com. He is a political columnist, the author of America’s Last Chance, and provides regular commentaries on the Jeff Crouere YouTube channel and on Crouere.net. For more information, email him at jcrouere@gmail.com

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