Say, Who Controls Athletes Opinions?

Say, Who Controls Athletes Opinions?

NPR’s Karen Gigsby Bates thinks she’s on to something Very Important in the National Discussion On Race

When It Comes To Race And Sports, Who Owns An Athlete’s Opinions?

The NFL’s players are 70 percent black; its fans are 83 percent white and 64 percent male, according to online sports site The Real GM.

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And when it comes to the current controversy over the national anthem and players taking a knee, that statistic is playing a huge role.

It leads to the idea, says Amira Rose Davis of Penn State University, “that ‘you are good as entertainment, but once you have a voice, I don’t want to hear you. You need to shut up and play.’ ”

Some players, though, clearly are not be satisfied to just play and be paid.

Obviously, this is all about playing the Race Card.

Despite what critics say was intended by owners to be a chilling cautionary tale, more and more NFL players (most of them black, with a few exceptions) have joined Kaepernick in taking a knee this year, and America is not happy.

Well, a lot of white America is not happy.

And that’s an important distinction.

See? People upset because they just want to watch football are now raaaaacists. Who thinks this kind of discussion, meant to divide rather than bring together, helps?

All this doesn’t surprise Colorado College historian Jamal Ratchford. He’s African-American and studies the nexus of sports, race and protest.

“Self-determination of black athletes has always been a challenge and infringed upon,” Ratchford says.

Let’s skip to the end of this race baiting, shall we?

Ultimately, the question may boil down to this: Who decides when, and how, players — especially black professional athletes, who are all too aware that some of their ancestors actually were owned by others — can exercise their right to self-expression?

Let’s turn that around: who owns the opinions of NPR employee Karen Gigsby Bates when she is working? Who decides when, and how, Karen Gigsby Bates can exercise her right to self-expression? That would be NPR, the company she chose to work for. We all make a choice to abide by the rules of the company we accept employment from. We are not to do things on the job that create a big problem for the company. Big companies tend to have a Code Of Conduct that lays this all out. When we are on Company Time, can we disrespect customers? If we’re doing things that annoy a huge segment of the company’s customer base, causing them to stop being customers, reducing the revenue flow, decreasing the favorability of the company, what would happen? That’s right, termination.

The players could have done things much differently instead of ticking off a large segment of their fan base. They made their protest divisive, instead of bringing people together. They’ve damaged the NFL brand, and certainly reduced the income flow. Owners have let them. And you know what will get solved? Nothing.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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