By Brody Hickle
Submitted: September 22, 2020 / Published: November 26, 2020
Brody Hickle grew up in Bluffton, Ohio and now studies Sport Management at Bowling Green State University. The fourth-year undergraduate student minors in General Business. His primary sport interests are hockey and football.
In my last article, I wrote about the Black Lives Matter Movement affecting the professional sport leagues across America, especially with the NBA. If you kept up with the NBA, you can see that they took this movement seriously. The National Basketball Association has shown great support to the fallen African American individuals who were lost to police brutality and to the black communities across America. I wanted to continue focusing on what the media has done as we head deeper into the fall season of sports. The media has brought great attention to the awareness and expects us all to believe that it is right to bring this matter into sports. But the question is, does everyone believe in this movement in sports? Obviously, the answer is no. Viewings have gone down due to the offense drawn to individuals from athletes kneeling during the National Anthem.
It seems right now in the sport world that there are many political judgements coming into sports. During the beginning of the NBA playoffs, we witnessed less fans watching professional sports due to the protests of kneeling during the National Anthem. In week 1 of the NFL season, the African American National Anthem was played before the National Anthem (Fans boo Chiefs, 2020). It created a lot of attention to fans at the stadiums, and the fans at home. During the Chiefs vs Texans game in week 1, the fans in the stadium booed the players loudly, as the players locked arms in the middle of the field (Fans boo Chiefs, 2020). This was strange to me because they were not kneeling, as the NBA athletes have done. So statistically, what has this done to the viewings of sports?
From research, Anne Hendershott (2020) released statistics indicating that 30 percent of American adults are now less likely to watch sporting events that promote Black Lives Matter. However, 21% are more likely to watch sporting events. Additionally, 35% of individuals say that they will never watch any event that promotes Black Lives Matter. Now, obviously the NFL, NBA, and MLB are all too aware of this. So, let us look at how they have responded.
NBA coach, Doc Rivers, made an emotional appeal following the shooting of Jacob Blake. In Kenosha, Wisconsin, there was a video recorded by an individual in the neighborhood where Blake walked away from the cops as if he had not done anything wrong. As he reached to his car, the cops shot Jacob seven times in the back. This would cause another protest in America due to the beliefs from individuals that the cops should have been arrested afterwards (Steinbuch, 2020).
The shooting of Jacob Blake seemed to create many controversies after the incident. Just like the riots, it seems now that the politicians have turned this movement into a “left vs. right” subject. For example, as election year is coming to a close, it seemed from my experience that many individuals Republican views do not support Black Lives Matter, while many individuals with Democratic views do.
Going back to Doc Rivers. Doc Rivers has been a coach in the NBA for numerous teams throughout the years. In his statement, he talks about fear. ESPN staff writer Ohm Youngmisuk cited Rivers ’ words, “All you hear is Trump and all of them talking about fear. We’re the ones getting killed. We’re the ones getting shot. We’re the ones that we’re denied living in certain communities. We’ve been hung. We’ve been shot. And all you do is keep hearing about fear.” (Youngmisuk, 2020, para. 3). In the video, you can see the emotions that not only reflect how Rivers feels, but also how much of the black community must feel.
Now, going back to the Texans vs. Chiefs game that I mentioned before, according to CBS news, JJ Watt mentioned that he thought the booing was unfortunate. He stated that he fully did not understand it. I also learned from CBS that there were two players who did kneel with their fists in the air in solidarity for social injustice (Fans boo Chiefs, 2020). Even the video they shared before the game promoting Black Lives Matter created controversy.
One more statistic that I want to share by Sam Amico is that ABC is down 12% of their viewership from last year to this year (Amico, 2020). ABC does many coverings for the NBA, and it started after the kneeling of the National Anthem. With all of this mentioned, I will now share my opinion with the media towards this matter. I do believe that the media is doing the right thing, promoting the players who believe that everyone deserves justice. I do appreciate them showing everyone why it is important to protest for this matter and why it is more than just kneeling. If you remember in my last article, kneeling is about respect and difference. I will say, however, in some fields of the media, such as social media platforms, I do wish they could share middle ground stating that there are good police officers out there. Lastly, I believe that this should not be a political issue in sports. I believe that professional sport organizations are doing the right thing. Showing support and solidarity makes you more than an athlete. With mentioning that there are less fans watching sports from this matter, I believe that those fans should look into the meaning behind the movement before making assumptions.
Amico, S. (2020, February 14). NBA TV Ratings Plummet by Double digits as Interest Wanes, Insiders say. Sports Illustrated. https://www.si.com/nba/cavaliers/news/nba-tv-ratings-abc-espn-tnt
Fans boo Chiefs, Texans players during moment of silence at NFL opener. (2020, September 11). CBS News. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/chiefs-texans-fans-booing-nfl-opener-moment-silence/
Hendershott, A. (2020, August 1). New evidence: Key fans unhappy with sport leagues kowtowing to Black Lives Matter. The American Spectator. https://spectator.org/black-lives-matter-protests-sports-fans-rasmussen/
Steinbuch, Y. (2020, August 25). Jacob Blake was Shot Less Than Three Minutes After Police Arrival. New York Post. https://nypost.com/2020/08/27/jacob-blake-was-shot-less-than-three-minutes-after-cops-arrived/
Youngmisuk, O. (2020, August 25). Clippers Coach Doc Rivers on Jacob Blake Shooting: We Got to Demand Better. ESPN. https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/29740593/clippers-coach-doc-rivers-jacob-blake-shooting-got-demand-better