When it comes to government, we hold the philosophy that Church and State (or rather, Government and religion) should be separate. There’s a constant debate as to where that line should be drawn, and how much the government should do when it comes to separating the two. There’s room for nuance.
We the people, however, work hard every day to keep various parts of our lives separate in such a manner. It’s a balancing act we all do. Our home life versus our work. Business versus friendship. Online casinos versus our wallets. Candy versus our tummies.
However, one mainstay of life has slowly been eroding away that separation. Sports have become political.
Sports as it used to be
Obviously, it wasn’t always like that. In the past, sports have been an amazing unifier between peoples and cultures. Everyone bands together to support their home team. The team itself has to come together and put it’s best together to win.
Everyone involved can put aside squabbles and day-to-day tedium to enjoy a game together, whether it’s basketball (as we’re specifically discussing today), baseball, football, hockey- you name it. Competitions, sports, and games have been a staple of society for thousands of years.
It was an amazing step forward to see white and black athletes compete on the same teams. Or Asians, Hispanics, or whichever minority group you care about. What mattered was the game and standing arm in arm with those who are determined to win.
However, the past five years or so have brought out a huge change in that regard, and it’s sad to see that sports have become incredibly divisive.
Don’t miss to read
Divisive Sports and the NBA
The NBA’s ratings are down nearly twenty-seven percent in the last season and nearly forty percent in total since 2017 / 2018. Ratings are down across nearly all the major sports leagues too. NFL viewership is down eleven percent, and MLS ratings are down somewhere between seven to fourteen percent.
So what’s been going on?
The answer is politics. Let me fill in some context.
This year, 2020, has been pretty harsh politically. Many have written off this year as “god-awful”. One of the major events of the summer, in the lead-up to the presidential election, was the George Floyd riots.
To summarize the George Floyd incident, in case you somehow missed it: Cops responding to a 911 call found George Floyd at the wheel of a car and wanted to arrest him. Floyd, who was high as a kite at the time, resisted arrest and ended up on the ground, with a cop kneeling on his neck to pin him in place. Floyd died during the incident, either from suffocating due to the knee on the neck or from the drugs in his system (it’s vague as to which, specifically). The cops were charged with murder, and the trial is pending.
Nevertheless, following the incident, the Black Lives Matter organization, along with Antifa, began rioting. Cities burned, cops and bystanders have been attacked, and some gunned down in the street. Billions of dollars in property damage was done, mostly to black businesses and homes, and cops are quitting in droves due to the danger to their lives and the treatment they’re getting from their superiors. Antifa in Portland attempted to secede from the US and created CHAZ (Capital Hill Autonomous Zone), where Warlords immediately took over and started demanding protection money from the unlucky populace who happened to live in CHAZ.
Needless to say, a lot of people are not very happy with Black Lives Matter, at the moment.
So when the NBA paints a giant “BLACK LIVES MATTER” mural onto their courts, people who just wanted to get away from the politics and the violence are pissed. When Lebron James makes statements about how scared he is as a black man to live in the US, people get frustrated with the rich, celebrity, athlete, telling them he’s got it rough. Same thing when Colin Kaepernick did it back in 2016.
They’ve eroded trust and sympathy. When a hate crime is reported, everyone looks on with skepticism, and it’s justified because of bad actors like Bubba Wallace and Jussie Smollett. When sports institutions, like NASCAR, the NFL, NBA, and so on, promote and support such people, it alienates part of, if not the majority, of the audience.
Sports are supposed to bring people together, and it’s depressing seeing these great institutions drive people apart further than ever.