Over the weekend, media on the Right and the Left cast doubts on the intent and impact of social justice actions taking place in college and professional sports. Appearing on Fox News Saturday, Outkick's Jason Whitlock said the pro athletes staging social justice protests falsely think they are moving the country forward, and it will take years for sports to recover from the divisiveness they're spreading. The far Left blog, Deadspin, also questioned the sincerity of college and pro sports efforts to appease the Black Lives Matter movement.
In a Fox News segment on the "rise of activism in sports," Whitlock (at right in photo) estimated professional sports has lost "a lot of fans" and it may take 5-10 years to regain them.
Whitlock said sports "was a celebration of Americana" (until now) and he doesn't believe current athletes swept up by Black Lives Matter mania understand the business and the attachment of sports to patriotism. Their symbolic social justice actions of teams and athletes are not uniting the nation:
"They think they're having real impact and pushing the country forward. I don't think they fully understand the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. I don't think they understand a strategy that leads to actual growth in a movement. What they're doing is very divisive. ... It will take some time for the athletes to realize how divisive their embrace of Black Lives Matter was."
Also over the weekend, Deadspin writer DeArbea Walker questioned the intent and impact of white people who've sprung into action to appease African American anger:
"Black people are not puppets, and they are not to be used to prop up an agenda. We are human beings who would like to live equal and equitable lives to our white counterparts. It’s that simple. The way white people treat and see their white peers is precisely how Black people want the exchange between them and their white counterparts to be."
Walker condemned the University of Alabama for the way it reacted to a women's gymnastics coach's racist comments to African American team members. Gymnast Tia Kiaku explained what happened to them, in a Tweet:
"Do we really stand together? The program that allowed the Assistant Coach to make a racist 'joke' & ask a group of black girls 'what is this the back of the bus',allowed gymnast to say the N word, and much more. You cant stand with us & allow injustices to happen."
Dana Duckworth, Alabama’s head gymnastics coach, said on social media that she is ultimately responsible for what goes on in her program, and she seeks to foster an "inclusive" environment. Duckworth also expressed interest in featuring Kiaku for "African American Appreciation Month," but did not follow up.
This was an insincere, disingenuous response in the view of Walker, who slammed the university. "Having solidarity with Black folks’ strife goes beyond a spontaneous social media post." Coaches shouldn’t encourage athletes to speak up on racial justice if they aren't expecting the honest truth, added Walker, who expanded her vitriol far beyond Alabama:
"Anti-blackness is a global illness. Combating America’s racist society will almost certainly ruffle some feathers. If you jump in the ring and don’t want to get hit, why step in there in the first place?"
Walker said Duckworth’s message speaks to a hypocritical and contentious environment where people say they want to end racism. But they're ignoring "the fact that if you want to have honest conversations about race, you have to look at the culture on which this country was built: racial violence and hierarchy."
If organizations haven’t dotted all their i’s and crossed their t’s to address their "role in perpetuating the toxic racial hierarchy this country sits on, then why encourage your athletes to speak out against racial injustice in the first place. ..."
Walker told athletic programs that are white-led to cultivate the right culture before encouraging their athletes to speak up, lest they back-peddle on race.