September 26, 2016

Sporting Double Standards

A black man can protest, but a white man can’t.

Although many Americans find it highly offensive that San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick refuses to stand for our national anthem (to protest “a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” in his own words), neither the NFL nor the 49ers have administered any sort of punishment or remedial action for his political speech. Yes, he has an individual right to political expression, despite the leftist strawman that anyone’s arguing otherwise. But whether Kaepernick should face consequences is up to the NFL, a private venture with the right to deal with its representatives as it sees fit.

Kaepernick’s protests are spreading, too. In one example yesterday, four Washington Redskins players raised “black power fists” during the national anthem. (Are we the only ones who find it highly ironic that black Redskins players are making racial gestures?) And high school and college teams across the country are making similarly disrespectful gestures during the national anthem.

But American professional sports organizations and their billionaire leftist owners proved, once again, that they have unmitigated double standards regarding free expression, and accept such expression only when they agree with it. The Seattle Mariners suspended backup catcher Steve Clevenger on Friday for the remainder of the 2016 season after he sent a social media message about the rioting in Charlotte. Clevenger tweeted: “[Black Lives Matter] is pathetic once again! Obama you are pathetic once again! Everyone involved should be locked behind bars like animals.” He added, “Black people beating whites when a thug got shot holding a gun by a black officer haha [expletive] cracks me up! Keep kneeling for the anthem!” Whether you think Clevenger should be punished or not, he too has an individual right to political expression.

There is ample evidence of a double standard in professional sports, as recently demonstrated by the fact that then-St. Louis Rams players could take the field in the faux “hands up, don’t shoot” posture, while the Dallas Cowboys were not allowed to apply helmet stickers showing solidarity with Dallas police after the assassination of five officers there. Likewise, the offensive actions of a black man (Kaepernick) are heralded as “courageous,” while the offensive actions of a white man (Clevenger) resulted in suspension without pay. Where is sports media outcry in defense of Clevenger’s right to speak freely? Clearly, the “right to free speech” that the pundits and talking heads champion at ESPN does not apply to everyone. Indeed, it wasn’t all that long ago that ESPN fired Curt Schilling for expressing a political opinion…

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