NBA Players should protest the president|
On a hot late summers afternoon on the White House lawn the Brooklyn Athletics club, an amateur baseball team from New York, gathered together to await president Andrew Johnson. The team buzzed with excitement, many of them had just recently returned to playing sports after a four year war that had decimated the United States, as they awaited the 17th president: a man who himself had just taken the office 4 months prior. The players shook hands with the chief of state and reportedly took a team photo. So started a tradition that had gone on until this day, but a tradition which may take a hiatus.
Now 152 years after the 17th president shook hands with the Athletics, the 45th president has slowly begun to ostracize himself from the sports world. The NFL champion New England Patriots met with the president in March, but now the NBA champion Golden State Warriors have declined an invitation after the president rescinded the invite to star Steph Curry because of Curry's criticism of the president's policies and stances on social issues.
Steph Curry not showing up to the White House would not have been particularly newsworthy in itself. Both Larry Bird and Michael Jordan declined inventions to the Oval office in the 1980s and 1990s and many other superstars in other sports have declined invites. But what is unique is when the Warriors publicly declined the invite after the president's Twitter rampage. What also is unique is that most of this has played out very publicly on social media, mostly Twitter.
The first NBA champion to meet with the president was the Boston Celtics in 1962, but the NBL champions in 1943 and 1947 did meet with president Roosevelt.
The Warriors are the sportsbook odds to once again win the NBA title once again, so this drama may be playing out well into 2018 and possibly beyond.
The NBA is not alone in the presidents condemnation. The NFL too has been at the brunt of the presidents Twitter tirades and the league responded in new unison rebuking the chief of state. The NFL players and many owners took knees during the national anthem and this form of protest is liking to spill over to the NBA as well.
It is unknown at this time what kind of, is any, protests we will see come October 2nd when the NBA kicks off its preseason. But there is a very good chance that there will be a unified rebuttal of the president
The one fun spectacular of champions visiting the White House has now, like so many other things in America, become so highly politicized that the true meaning of the visit has been lost. By now means an I advocating the players show up to the White House, nor should they stop their protests or lack their of. What needs to stop is the highest elected official in this country trying to bully private American business and citizens. This is not Nazi Germany and we as a citizenry cannot and should not stand ideally by as our president refers to Neo-Nazi's as “pretty fine people” but yet will call an American citizen a “son of a bitch” just because their views differ.
The NBA should join in with the NFL in protesting the president and the social justices that they feel are important to them. The taking a knee during the anthem started last season with the NFL's Colin Kaeperneck and has slowly gained traction until it exploded this weekend. The knee was originally a protest against police aggression towards blacks and has now started to include other social justice issues that are important to the African American and other minority communities in the US. These issues will hit home to NBA players, 74% of which are black.
Professional athletes are in a unique position to bring attention to these issues due to their access to mass media and social media. Just because they play sports does not mean that they should not have a voice or that they do not know what they are taking about. Many, especially in the NFL, have college degrees and have experienced the same injustices that they are protesting in real life.
Hopefully, these protests will bring real substantive changes both socially and politically and we can once again amuse ourselves with our favorite athletes hanging with the president.