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How Bout We Have Athletes as Athletes? Not Social Reformers.

The entertainment industry gives us enough “politically active” people.


Stephen A. Smith bemoans the loss of the politcally active athlete. We know from his blog and from past interviews that he wants more people like Jim Brown willing to speak out on an issue. More people like Tommie Smith willing to raise their fist.

I don’t know why he wants these people to be athletes. I don’t know why people like Jesse Jackson or Cindy Sheehan can’t express his political views well enough themselves. But he seems to think athletes should be doing it. I seem to think that athletes are paid to play ball, and I don’t really care to hear their political views. Lets stick with ESPN for sports and C-SPaN for politics.

But, for someone who thinks that a journalism school degree, an extremely loud voice, and thirteen years of experience writing about basketball, gives him the credibility to talk politics on Hardball, they might think that athletes should voice their opinion.

Certainly, I have nothing against free speech. If an athlete wants to speak on politics, they should go ahead. But I’m not going to be listening. What do they know about politics that I don’t? I might listen to Bill O’Reilly or Rush Limbaugh because they have experience covering politics, and they are entertaining.

Athletes are entertaining when they score touchdowns, not when they talk politics. They are good at sports. O’Reilly isn’t good at sports. Watching O’Reilly run a route would be tantamount to listening to Randy Moss talk politics.

Rush Limbaugh tried going into football commentary. He failed miserably. I don’t see Stephen A. asking for him to come back.

Now, some of you might be like Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, those guys are crazy! How the hell can you rely on them for political info! FAUX NEWS is biased!

That’s just the point. I’m not going to say anything about politics here because the only thing politics is usually good for is pissing people off. People are supposed to be united by sports, not divided. Sure we have our differences over whether the Pats are a bunch of pretty boy cheaters or whether they are the best and most honorable team ever. We love debating loudly about it, but we don’t really care. In the end, it’s just an exciting game, and the results don’t effect us. Sure the results of elections don’t actually effect us much, but they effect us a lot more than a free throw. When you’ve got war and peace and prosperity, lives might be on the line in politics.

We don’t want to hear why Shaq thinks the Iraq War is a failure. Nor do we want to hear (and neither does Stephen A. Smith) why Clinton is a commie who is about to ruin the economy with her tax raises.

And that’s what what we would be hearing for the most part if athletes spoke their minds. John Feinstein wrote in Next Man Up that about 90% of NFL players are Republicans, and the numbers are skewed that way in other sports as well. These guys make millions of dollars playing pro sports, so it’s really no surprise.

Stephen A. Smith bemoans the loss of people like Jim Brown, Tommie Smith, and Muhammad Ali. Notice all three of them stood for liberal ideals. So does Stephen A. actually care about the politically active athlete? No, he just wants liberal politically active athletes. Since when did “politically active” become synonymous with liberal?

In the politically active liberal athlete category, we do have a few. Carlos Delgado has spoken out about the War. So did Steve Nash and Nick Van Exel. Etan Thomas writes for the liberal blog The Huffington Post.

But, none of them did as much as Jim Brown did. None of them helped a slave rise up from his oppressive master and find freedom.

I am speaking of course of Mauirce Clarett.

Back in 2003 when Clarett was trying to enter the draft, Brown came to his aid, calling then Ohio State athletic director Andy Geiger a slave. He also said, “They cannot beat Maurice Clarett into being a slave in this society.

So, you see where some of these politically active athletes can get you. Maurice Clarett rightfully could be compared to a slave now thanks to Brown’s guidance.

Furthermore, Stephen A. coming off as “politically active” and “tell-it-like-it-is” is as much of a joke as Rush Limbaugh on NFL Countdown. Smith admitted in an interview with that Muslim Sports Blog that he doesn’t even say what he believes!

I consider it my responsibility to express a point of view — even one I may admittedly not necessarily agree with — that echoes that of the disenfranchised, the individuals who feel passionately about something yet go unheard.

If you say something, you take it as your opinion. Someone who talks that loud and is that dogmatic with his opinions should understand that. When you say that Kobe is the the “obvious” MVP and that it’s “not even worth discussing,” is that your uninformed opinion, or the disenfranchised worker’s?

Seriously, though, his political opinions, not just his basketball opinions, make the disenfranchised worker look like an idiot if that’s who he speaks for. Why can’t he do something tough, something he wants athletes to do, and actually stand up for what he believes in? And if he sympathizes with the disenfranchised so much, why doesn’t he himself want to help them, instead of having to disagree with what it is they think. If he disagrees with them, then he shouldn’t be speaking for them, anyway.

This is like what he said on Hardball. He said that “as an African-American, I know that a lot of African-Americans are wondering if Obama is a viable candidate?”

No, they aren’t. You are. I’m sure there are a lot of other people, of black and white descent, who are or were wondering if Obama was a viable candidate. You are one of them. But, don’t speak for an entire race. Don’t speak for an entire “disenfranchised” class. They have voices, too.

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11 Responses to “How Bout We Have Athletes as Athletes? Not Social Reformers.”

  1. Would you be more comfortable if athletes were espousing conservative views?

  2. No, I don’t like listening to athletes talk politics no matter what their views are. I just like watching them make good plays.

  3. I just don’t like the lack of civility present in politics being present where it is unnecessary.

  4. I agree with mhblatt. I’d rather have an athlete make a political statement or support an ideal if he or she actually believes in that ideal. No sense in trotting out a sports super star for the sake of trotting out a sports super star.

  5. Couldn’t have said it better myself. Great site.

  6. What an incredibly ignorant article. Sports and politics have a long and storied history, from Jackie Robinson and the Civil Rights movement to Tommy Smith and John Carlos at the Olympics in Mexico City in ‘68. Go even further back in history and you’ll see countless athletes who have dabbled in politics. Get a clue you fucking dumb loser.

  7. Ben, you’re entitled to your opinion, but calling someone a “dumb loser” is really un-necessary. Please try to keep your comments focused on the article and the issue at hand. No need for personal attacks on the writer. Thanks.

  8. I think Ben wants to replace Stephen A. Smith at the Philadelphia Inquirer. First off, he apparently doesn’t know who Tommy Smith and John Carlos are, or else maybe he would have recognized them in a picture.

    Secondly, he thinks Jackie Robinson was “dabbling in politics.” Jackie Robinson didn’t want to make a political statement. He didn’t care about breaking the color line. He wasn’t that arrogant. He just wanted to play baseball. And he had the courage to do it, but that wasn’t the reason he did it.

  9. I’m sure you’ve produced some certainly interesting points

  10. Yeah!!! I can’t wait for Viola to open!! My mouth is already watering thinking about all the yummy food!

  11. I really enjoy reading through on this internet site , it has good posts .

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