Posted by: Mark Nielsen | September 24, 2017

“Take a Knee”–Pro Sports and Protests, 1968-2017

The Oakland A’s Bruce Maxwell, and the Warriors’ Stephen Curry, and (thank God!) the *owners* of the Golden State Warriors all just made Colin Kaepernick’s protest/ feud with Trump and the political establishment a LOT more interesting.

Meanwhile, Trump has once again talked and tweeted himself into a corner, one that even King LeBron James is proud to put him into with a tweet of his own, and then put a dunce cap on The Don’s silly bobblehead.
Long story short: 1) Steph Curry went public with his desire to not visit the White House with his NBA champ Warriors. 2) Trump tweeted out an “uninvited” message. 3) The Warriors management backed their guy, made a generic but important statement about inclusiveness and free speech, and 4) are now opting not to visit the WH as a team. 5) Now their entire trip to D.C. (which  is still going to happen), will be a high profile act of protest. Aaaand 6) LeBron and other high profile athletes can and are safely backing Curry, who has a better rep (and more talent) than Kaepernick ever did.

Donald, you dope!

In another part of the SanFrancisco Bay Area, rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell of the Oakland A’s just became the first MLB player to take a knee during the national anthem, though he did keep his hand over his heart (which is consistent with being the patriot and Army brat that he is).

Oh and lest we forget, MLB has it’s playoffs right around the corner. Plus 162!!! games NEXT season, ten times more than Kaepernick’s 16-game NFL season. Plus they have more teams than either the NBA or NFL… not to mention lots more moderately paid players at the bottom of each baseball roster– kids and veterans, some maybe without much to lose by joining Maxwell’s call for justice and free speech, if they so choose. It may raise their profile, in fact.

Come in from the cold, Colin Kaepernick. You did your time (despite the absence of a crime), and we thank you for it.

The Big Question: How long will it take for more *white* athletes (especially a superstar or two, those who are worshipped by Trump’s base) to start joining the Warriors’ management, to have the guts to kneel down?

Bottom line, this was never JUST a race issue. Not in the Civil War. Not in the Sixties. And not now. It’s about human rights, and it’s about money (isn’t it always?)

This National Anthem Dilemma all feels increasingly familiar, with each new development. Maybe it’s the very current and relevant (and superb!) PBS/Ken Burns & Lynn Novick Vietnam series that makes me think of this:

That was at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.

Here’s a bit of lesser-known background.

” In an immediate response to their actions, Smith (Gold medalist) and Carlos (Bronze) were suspended from the U.S. team by Brundage and banned from the Olympic Village. Those who opposed the protest said the actions disgraced all Americans. Supporters, on the other hand, praised the men for their bravery.

….Peter Norman, the Australian sprinter who came second in the 200 m race, also wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge during the medal ceremony. Norman was the one who suggested that Carlos and Smith wear one glove each. His actions resulted in him being ostracized by Australian media[15]and a reprimand by his country’s Olympic authorities, who did not send him or any other male sprinters at all to the 1972 games (despite easily making the qualifying time)… In 2006, after Norman died of a heart attack, Smith and Carlos were pallbearers at Norman’s funeral.” (Wikipedia)

Then there’s Muhammad Ali’s refusal to be drafted, and his readiness to go to jail over it.

That was all before doping, or the sports marketing explosion, or Islamic terrorists, or trigger-happy police and vigilante private citizens gunning down unarmed black teens or drivers in the streets, who weren’t protesting a damned thing.

Meanwhile in 2017, the plot thickens. There are certainly many things that matter a lot more than grown men throwing a ball back and forth for money. Especially since the female half of the population (of ANY color or faith) barely gives a crap about LeBron or Ali, let alone Bruce Maxwell. But pro sports and the media that promote them are a key piece of the U. S. economy.

#Dolt45, The Man Who Would Be King, the former owner of the New Jersey Generals pro football team, one Donald J. Trump, just woke the bear out of hibernation. If he thinks he can demonize the likes of Stephen Curry, he may even find friends like Tom The Patriot Brady turning on him soon enough.

Some Great White Hope –please, somebody!– is gonna break ranks in pro sports, and soon.wheter it occurs before or after Special Investgator Mueller and his team find the smoking Kalashnikov gun, and bring down The Don, that’s anybody’s guess.

Either way, at that point, cowardly athletes and plumbers and CEOs and soccer moms and insurance clerks and fickle “front runners” will desert Trump like rats from a sinking ship.

Thank you, Colin, Stephen and Bruce. It’s like the Pied Piper himself just said there’s some good barbecue downstairs in the kitchen, so what are we doing upstairs listening to this racist, sexist billionaire as he insults us to our faces?


  1. Below:
    a brief representative quote from Monday morning’s New York Times overview of all the NFL anthem protests on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017.

    Keep in mind that Nashville –in some ways– is like the New York or L.A. of the South: a culture-creating hub, and a bellwether of mainstream and conservative opinion. It’s not as “Southern” as ‘bama (where Trump made his inflammatory remarks) or Georgia, nor is the city as football-crazy as entire states like Florida or TX.

    Most Southern cities, with very few *other* pop-culture things to focus on [recall “Friday Night Lights”?] are generally more football-crazy than NY, Chicago, Seattle or SanFran… and as for L. A., they’re just generally crazy, but their attention to actual FOOTBALL –not to mention politics– is historically fickle and shallow. It’s just one of dozens of entertainment streams… heck, even The Rock –a former Florida college football star–chose WWE over the NFL. Nobody in power in L.A. would ever dare disagree with The Rock!

    Now, back to the subject at hand, that NYT quote:

    *TN Titans vs. Seattle Seahawks*
    (Note: Seattle had pre-announced they would skip anthem, unlike TN)

    “The complete lack of players made for a bizarre scene in which team mascots and game officials were the only figures television cameras could focus on besides the flag and Linsey [the singer]. Unlike some other stadiums, where fans booed at the protests, the fans in Nashville were eerily quiet during the anthem, and after the song’s conclusion the players began running onto the field.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: