14 Jun Requiem for Professional Sports, 2020
As the incredible upheaval of 2020 continues, it’s immeasurably sad to watch professional American athletes join in the denunciation of racist America, with the essential corollary, ‘hate Trump’.
There is a very high probability that they are in the midst of killing for at least half a generation the golden goose that has made them unimaginably wealthy and famous by normal human standards.
Humanity in general, and Americans specifically, love to play and watch sports. They have for decades packed stadiums and gathered around radios and televisions and now streaming devices to root for Packers and Bears and Giants and Dodgers and Celtics and Lakers. They have done so in numbers that in America’s free market system have generated ‘sponsorship’ revenues that ultimately led to multi-million dollar salaries and endorsement earnings for professional athletes, coaches and owners across all sports.
And in the NFL and NBA, to name just two professional sports leagues, a very large majority of the players making these millions of dollars are black.
Memo to professional athletes everywhere: this could not happen in a racist country. Period. Full Stop.
People of great achievement in any field often want to be recognized for more than their skill in their chosen field. Athletes are no exception. They want to think their fame can be put to good use for the betterment of their communities, and they want to think their ability to achieve great things on a playing field or court translates into great wisdom or insight on social issues outside the playing field.
So there’s nothing unusual or wrong about LeBron James speaking out in the aftermath of ugly incidents involving racism. In America especially, that’s his right. It’s Colin Kaepernick’s right, too.
But when their comments put them into alignment with the theme of racist America, they are joining in a lie. Don’t be surprised if joining in that lie will spell the doom of their sport for at least several years—perhaps the remainder of their careers.
Why? Because free people can vote with their feet. They don’t have to watch sports; they don’t have to buy tickets. Neither the NFL nor the NBA nor any other professional sports organization has the power to order fans to fill the seats or gather around the TV.
The NFL started to learn this lesson in the first go-around with Colin Kaepernick. Ratings and attendance fell significantly, but then recovered, mostly on the strength of the economic rebound and the fairly rapid dissipation of the kneeling routine after President Trump hounded them about it. But now, of course, the mob has decreed that Colin Kaepernick was right all along (and Drew Brees has fallen on his sword to confirm it), and so team-wide kneeling will become the least gesture that must be taken.
It’s pretty clear that the suits’ way out will be to abandon playing the national anthem at sporting events, but they are going to find out that the Marxist/SJW ringleaders who are driving all this will not be satisfied. The ringleaders want racist America punished; they want racist America to kneel to them; they want racist America to apologize to them. They will insist upon ways to deliver this message even in the absence of the national anthem—maybe especially in the absence of the national anthem.
And here’s what seems very likely to happen: Americans will tune them out at levels which will make the Kaepernick slump look mild; Americans don’t have to pay to be mocked and insulted. The current economic models of professional sports may be crushed.
Will the stadiums be empty and the TV ratings go to zero? Of course not. America is a nation of 320+ million people; there will be some segment of the population still interested in buying tickets and watching. But it is increasingly likely it will be a small fraction of previous levels. The radical left is simply not the ‘base’ of support for professional sports.
The Marxists will then scream that the rapidly declining popularity of certain professional sports will prove America is racist.
No it won’t. It will prove that Americans do not honor lies or accept insults about themselves or their country.
Will interest in professional sports ever recover? Sure, once there are new leaders and spokespeople who can with fortitude and clarity acknowledge some simple truths.
- It is possible to hate racism and support law enforcement at the same time.
- It is possible to denounce police brutality and support law enforcement at the same time.
- It is possible to recognize that condemnable ignorance and detestable prejudice and bigotry exist in some human beings, and at the same time to unapologetically affirm that America is not a racist country.
The current leaders of professional sports—owners, coaches and players—plainly do not possess the requisite fortitude and clarity. They cave to and err on the side of the Marxist/SJW mobs. In some cases they may think they are making nuanced public statements that stop short of condemning America, but the nuance isn’t registering, and their words and actions are being interpreted as coming down on the side of condemning the country and the American people as a whole.
They think they are standing for something positive and important; their media acolytes will tell them they are heroic; and they think their actions will bring about a better country with a better set of fans to root them on as before.
Much more likely: they are not just wrong, but dead wrong, and they are going to lose, and lose big. And sadly, they are so confused and misled, they will watch it all go down the drain and believe it confirms their worst suspicions about their fellow Americans and their country.
The truth will be the opposite. They all thrived at almost unimaginable levels in the freest, least racist country in the history of the world. Their American fans of every creed and color and gender proved year after year that they were not racist; American sports fans were lovers of competition and rivalry and athletic excellence in whatever color or form it came in. But the professional sports class apparently never learned enough about human history or American history to understand this. And now they look like they are going to bring on their own destruction because they have been convinced to believe lies.
The destruction does not have to be permanent; it can lift as soon as the belief in lies lifts. But that possibility looks distant among the current cast of characters.
A lot of money may be lost by athletes of every skin color, and a lot of brilliant athletic careers may be cut short, all courtesy of the Marxist mobs (and their aligned Democrat Party for whom 95+% of black Americans historically vote).
What a sad requiem for professional sports in 2020.
Eric Georgatos blogs at America Can We Talk?