Players receive fines for lots of things. Criticizing officials, making obscene gestures, and breaking dress codes all could lead to hefty penalties in the world of sports. Unless, of course, your actions or choice of clothing taunt and bash police officers, then you’re good to go.
A couple of weeks ago a group of St. Louis Rams players, including at least one with a rap sheet of his own, struck the “hands up, don’t shoot” pose before a game against the Oakland Raiders. The gesture is the same one protesters have used to decry the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. According to eyewitnesses, Brown did not have his hands up on the day he was shot. But when has truth gotten in the way of a good protest from uninformed athletes?
As the sports world joins the race baiters in politics and entertainment in falsifying the Ferguson narrative, they’ve also turned their attention to the incident in New York City involving Eric Garner, who died after a police officer placed him in a choke hold. Some self proclaimed “socially conscious” players in the NFL and NBA are donning “I Can’t Breathe” shirts. At first when the Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose wore one, I assumed it was just his latest excuse for not playing. But after multiple others also put on similar attire I realized it was yet another misguided protest.
While Reggie Bush and other NFLers certainly brought attention to themselves and the “issue” with these shirts, the campaign really took off Monday night when the attention grabber of attention grabbers stuck his nose into things. King James himself wore an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt around the time he hobnobbed with Prince William and Duchess Kate. James then went out of his way, after the blowout over Brooklyn, to make sure he told us it wasn’t about race. Really? When he wears a shirt in tribute of Autumn Pasquale, the little New Jersey girl murdered for her bike, or the countless other victims killed by Chicago gang members, then we may start to believe his professed intentions.
No fines are expected to be levied against any of the Rams or any of the other players who altered their uniforms. Free speech right? Fair enough. Kenny Britt, who has been arrested multiple times, and his St. Louis teammates have the right to act like morons. It’s protected in this country. The altering of uniforms is another debate. But can the rules on uniforms at least be uniform?
Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall was fined thousands of dollars for wearing green shoes to bring awareness to mental illness. Yet players can rip police officers who have been cleared of any wrongdoing and not be fined. That is mental illness.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was hit with a ten-thousand dollar penalty for wearing blacked-out Under Armour helmet clips to attach his visor to his face mask. Under Armour is not an official uniform partner of the NFL so he was deemed in violation of the rules.
The NFL often fines coaches and players for the slightest critique of officiating crews. Touch a quarterback too roughly and you’re digging into your pockets as well. Make a blanket statement about police officers, however, and there’s not much of anything done. Sheldon Richardson, one of the New York Jets top stars, called Officer Darren Wilson a “pig.” Not a peep from the NFL meter maids.
So here’s the deal. Allegedly make a racial slur? Pay up, Mr. Kaepernick. Say something perceived as “anti-gay”? That’ll be 100K, Kobe. Lambaste police officers? A-OK in the NBA.
Cops, of course, aren’t the only ones that are free game. Christians like Tim Tebow can be disparaged at will. Any politician who speaks out against President Obama is also allowed to be skewered. But don’t you dare speak out against a criminal. This should come as no surprise. The NFL has long coddled dog killers, rapists, and even murderers. The NBA is no stranger to rewarding bad behavior, either. This is the state of today’s culture, in sports and otherwise.
There’s such irony in all of this. With all of the actual victims of violence in this world (some are even married to NFL running backs), we see bodies laying in the streets blocking traffic for criminals. Most of this takes place in major cities. So, basically, you have a bunch of white, Occupy types impeding the hybrid cars of their metropolitan brethren who voted for Obama twice, all in the name of fallen thugs. Was there not a good police cruiser to defecate on?
Some are comparing these recent antics to those of Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and other sports stars who took up social causes back in the 1960s. While some of their opinions could certainly be questioned, Ali and Brown at least passed the eye test. They seemed to actually know about what they were speaking out against. Today, LeBron and friends seem to simply be creating another reason for themselves to be in the headlines. Agree or disagree with Ali and Brown, their intelligence wasn’t often questioned. Britt and his teammates won’t be attending any Mensa meetings any time soon.
When we are continuously pitted against one another by the current administration, Hollywood, and the media, the last thing we need is to have this garbage infiltrate sports. Too late.
For those who just want to unite behind a team, the division annoys. Fans of all colors, religions, and backgrounds once found common ground in their favorite teams. Now things have taken an ugly, ugly turn.
You can’t breathe? This latest nonsense that has no place in sports will soon make many of us say “I can’t watch.”