by John Walters
I’ve been thinking about writing this for the past two weeks, but 10-hour days at the diner every day (we’re located almost within an Instagram photo of the Rockefeller Center tree) have precluded any deep dives. But anyway, as we deal with a White House that seems increasingly emboldened to disregard laws and no longer even pretends to disguise its favor for Americans who are white supremacists, the thought came to me:
What is it that racists are completely able to overlook when it comes to their distaste for minorities? And the answer is, of course, sports. You’ll find thousands of racists attending and/or betting on sports events, particularly football games. Millions more will watch on television. Whatever they happen to think of black people in private, they have no problem tuning in to watch a bowl game or five NBA games on Christmas day.
And so it came to me that if Black America ever really wanted to effect change in American culture, its athletic leaders have a very powerful tool at their disposal. A mass walkout. Think about not only how many billions and billions of dollars flow through the system due to sporting events (both in local economies and through television networks and advertising) but what a giant part of the weekly diet it is for so many of us.
What if African-American athletes, en masse, were to simply go on strike until whatever specific change they hoped to effect (and that’s the rub here: you’d have to state something specific you wanted changed; and before you go down the Colin Kaepernick road, can you really hold a league hostage until one team puts him on its roster? That’s an entirely different question)? And they could invite their fellow white athletes to join them if they believed in the cause.
It would cripple the sports industry. And that’s no minor economic or cultural blip.
Now, sure, Luka Doncic is an MVP-caliber player, but I don’t think American fans want to see a league strictly comprised of Luka, Kyle Korver and Frank Kaminsky. And while Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Drew Brees are superb, who are they going to throw to? Cooper Kupp and Julian Edelman all day?
There’s no other part of American life in which African-Americans play such a vital role as they do in team sports (never mind the Olympics). If a change is ever gonna come, this would be the most profound and quickest way to make it.
The inspiration for this finally being put down on paper (internet paper) is two-fold: 1) finally have a day off and 2) what took place during the Chelsea-Tottenham match in London on Sunday. Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger, who is German but of African descent, was subject to racist jeers for part of the match from the Tottenham crowd.
Tottenham is in London. It’s not a backwoods, redneck precinct. In the aftermath of the incident, Sky Sports analyst Gary Neville, a former Premier League player, noted that viewers and fans need to take a closer look at where fans are getting the feeling of empowerment to so boldly behave this way—even in London. Neville then went on to say that he would support players if they were to walk off the pitch in a mass protest.
Sadly, Sky Sports host David Jones cut in and felt compelled to remind viewers that these are the opinions of Neville and not Sky Sports. So David Jones just added his name to the ash heap of history when documentaries are made about what a sad era this was for the western world in terms of bigotry and racial intolerance. Well done, David.
Twas A Jake Tapper Thread
Five Films: 1980
- Airplane! I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley. I tweeted this a few weeks ago and I mean it: my life can be divided in half, the person I was before seeing this film and the person after. And in a film that just stuffs as many jokes and gags as possible, I still chortle when the pilot’s wife tells the horse she’s sleeping next to to let himself out. 2. Raging Bull: The original Robert De Niro & Joe Pesci buddy film from Scorcese. Siskel & Ebert considered this the best film of the decade. 3. Caddyshack: Written in a cocaine-induced stupor by Douglas Kenney, the same man who gave us Animal House. He saw Airplane! three weeks after this was released and was inconsolable because the Zucker brothers had made a funnier film. A month later, at the age of 33, he was dead. 3. The Shining: Jack in the box 5. The Empire Strikes Back: Simply the best of the—how many have there been now, seven?—Star Wars films.
I really wanted to put Breaker Morant in here, and to a lesser extent Atlantic City, but which film in the top five to push out? So here’s a nudge to see these two films if you haven’t already because I’m sure, like me, you’ve already seen at least four of the above five multiple times.