On June 4, 1967, several prominent Black athletes met in Cleveland to express their support for Muhammad Ali, who had been stripped of his heavyweight title and faced charges of draft dodging for his refusal to serve in the Vietnam War.
I personally found it ironic how Ali had no problem beating opponents to a pulp in the boxing ring for money but serving his country to defend helpless victims against Communist aggression for free was against his conscience, but I digress.
The point is that these professional athletes from various sports felt strongly about their cause and made their voices known, which was their right.
But none of these athletes ever knelt before the American flag, or boycotted games to punish the fans, and they all did their protests on their own time.
It is a travesty what has become of American sports today. What used to be an escape from politics has become a hotbed of ideology that is driving fans away by the millions.
Though other athletes tried before, the Pied Piper of exploiting sports for political messaging is Colin Kaepernick.
I would applaud any person, athlete or not, who uses their platform to draw attention to a worthy cause. But on their own time.
What’s especially distasteful about Kaepernick’s antics is the blatant hypocrisy of his stand. He recently sent a note to LeBron James for his embarrassing comments, “Thank you for staying true.” But how true is Kaepernick to his own cause?
While claiming to oppose human rights violations, Kaepernick gladly accepts millions of dollars on the backs of Nike workers getting paid 20 cents an hour overseas. The Washington Post reported earlier this year how Nike was associated with forced labor camps in Communist China. If athletes like Kaepernick were “staying true,” they’d have nothing to do with Nike.
That’s why it’s impossible for me to respect NBA players who kneel for America’s national anthem with Black Lives Matter shirts while sporting the Nike swoosh, knowing of their terrible record on human rights.
As they spout their anger at America, they gleefully embrace Communist China as a partner, the world’s worst violator of human rights.
We hear professional athletes repeat the same handful of names of Black victims and yet, LeBron James tweets that every Black person in America is being hunted down. But we never hear James or other athletes mention the names of murdered Black children, gunned-down Black police officers, or victims of Black-on-Black crime. If it offends people to say that all lives matter, could we at least agree that ALL Black lives matter?
When the tragic story of Jacob Blake’s shooting by a police officer hit the news in Wisconsin, sports teams suspended games in response.
But when a man was murdered in cold blood by a gunman in Portland, Oregon, in the same week, allegedly by a suspect associated with Antifa, there was no response at all from the sports world.
In the Portland murder, the victim is identified by the media as a member of a “right-wing” group called Patriot Prayer, but Antifa is never labeled as a “left-wing” group. The media further identifies the victim as part of “Trump demonstrators,” but the mob who are doing the destruction are simply referred to as “protesters.”
It’s now become so political. If you need further proof, look at how Joe Biden and Democratic leaders who control their burning cities are now blaming their messes on President Donald Trump.
The chaos in Portland is somehow Trump’s fault? Democratic senators can’t even condemn the violence against fellow Sen. Rand Paul and his wife after the GOP convention.
And it’s sickening how all this political maneuvering has been allowed to dominate our sports. But corporate America and professional sports teams learned their lesson from gay activists who demanded compliance or suffer the consequences.
Black Lives Matter now demands total compliance without any accountability as major league sports bow to them – literally.
These sports teams are helping to build a brand that hates America, admits they are Marxists, despises the police, and wants to fundamentally change America.
Gee, where have we heard those words before? They came from the same ex-president who is encouraging more protests and advising NBA players.
On a greater scale, we’re seeing how the left handles being out of power and, with the threat of more violence, we’re seeing how the left acts if they can’t win elections.
But until professional sports recognize that ALL Black lives matter and refuse to wear the logo of one of the worst abusers of human dignity in Nike, I cannot take them seriously.
Shut up and play.
Gil Mertz is a Thousand Oaks resident and former Santa Clarita Valley resident who worked for Help the Children in Valencia for 20 years. His column does not necessarily represent the views of The Signal or its editorial board.