Who cares about the players’ Jacob Blake opinion?
By Timothy Easling, Contributor
After the shooting of Jacob Blake, a number of players and coaches began talking about a boycott. Soon, games were cancelled, and multi-millionaire athletes were sitting quietly in their bubbles. No speaking engagements, no volunteer work, no plan of action. Just days off.
It’s really a struggle to understand political mob mentality sometimes. The idea that “boycotting” your own games (which you are willingly and handsomely employed to play) does anything for “awareness” of the cause is a serious deviation from logic. But perhaps more serious than this rational shortcoming is the insulting nature of athletes thinking that they can truly affect change simply by not doing something. Where are the athletes volunteering their time to speak to their communities? Where are the tales of athletes studying their stats and key points so they can better argue their side? Where are the millionaire athletes donating even so much as a meal to those truly in need? If you’re going to take a stand, you probably shouldn’t be pulling up a chair.
Even more insulting, albeit likely through a helpless ignorance, is the total lack of regard shown for the already struggling food and beverage industry. When the athletes decided to boycott for Jacob Blake it was easy for them. Just don’t play. Get a night off. Get a few nights off. They’ll still eventually play all the games. They’ll still eventually pick up their game cheques. They’ll still keep living the high life as they spout off against those who are truly privileged. But they didn’t think about the people who they really hurt. Game nights are the lifeblood of a great deal of bars and restaurants. They represent extra exposure. They represent extra revenue. They represent a chance to keep those already razor-thin margins above the water line for at least another day.
Of course, with that added opportunity for a decent night, the establishments also have to prepare extra staff accordingly, whether it’s behind the bar, in the kitchen, or on the floor. More food than usual might be prepped. More advertising might be in order. And when these games get cancelled and the businesses are left with a quiet evening and a boatload of unnecessary overhead? At least the players are still fine. Thank god they let us know about their righteous cause.
And all of a sudden, even some of those rabid fans among the group start to question their enjoyment. Sports are meant to be an escape. Movies are an escape. There are all manner of escapes—but now the politics are inescapable. If issues start to get crammed into our leisure activities, are they escapes anymore? If you went on a hike and someone screamed “BLM” at you every few feet, it might lose a bit of the magic. I was very invested in the Canucks’ run. Did the politics bother me? A bit, but I figured it could be worse and put up with it. And then it got worse. Because it wasn’t just politics—it was a privileged, actionless, ignorant, and selfish protest. If you postpone games without doing anything on the evening that you postponed… I’m going to stop watching. And I’m far from alone.
NBA viewership is down. NHL ratings are down. MLB is down. …perhaps not surprisingly, golf and its completely non-political approach is up. For the rest though, many of the commentators for various networks and newspapers try to explain away the drop with “people are slow to get back into watching sports,” “it’s traditionally a quiet time for TV,” and, “COVID-19 has put everything out-of-whack.”
People are slow getting back into sports? It’s the playoffs. There’s been nothing for months. Every sports fan has been starved for action. NFL fans have been reading super-early mock drafts for the entire summer. And summer may not be a traditional couch potato fest, but this is the playoffs. It’s that time of year you’ve been saving all of your best get-out-of-plans excuses for. It’s irresponsible and incorrect to try and blame so many failures on COVID-19. At some point you have to look at the product.
How do characters like LeBron James not redden with embarrassment? If the system is so terrible and racist and weighted against those less fortunate, should not he give up all of his ill-gotten gains? The system that he constantly speaks out against is the same system that has given him more money, power, and fame than any of us can ever dream of. He’s crying bloody murder as every racist money stream he’s got pours funds through his window. Quit basketball. Quit all of the oppressive practices that your position entails. Quit profiting from the very thing you campaign against every single day. He’s like those oh-so-common Canadians who decry colonialism and stealing land… and then turn around and “purchase” a brand-new plot of land complete with a stolen-wood house. And is it about race or politics? He keeps saying “Vote” without offering any real solution to issues. Are you campaigning or crusading? Anyone really think LeBron has to deal with racism? Anyone think the man shares any of the struggles with those not as well-off as himself? He’s nothing more than a massively talented hypocrite. His privilege allows him to profit from both sides.
You need fewer LeBrons and more Billy Turners. The black tackle for the Green Bay Packers perhaps said it best himself: “Yeah, we can go out there and boycott football games. Sure, we can do that; that’s easy. What change is that going to bring initially and right away? Football fans across the country and the world pissed off because they can’t watch football. What is that negativity going to bring to the world because we’re not out there playing this game? I don’t know that that necessarily creates change initially.”
I’m with you, Billy. I’d like to watch some football this season.