CNN’s Rachel Nichols Compares Missouri Football Team to Jackie Robinson

Discussing on Monday’s Anderson Cooper 360 the resignation of the president at the University of Missouri, CNN sports anchor Rachel Nichols compared the Missouri football team’s promise that it wouldn’t practice until the school’s president resigned over an alleged string of racial incidents at the school to the late Jackie Robinson taking a stand for integration in the 1950s.

Speaking with host Anderson Cooper and liberal New York Times columnist Charles Blow, Nichols ruled that sports are where Americans “have a lot of our national conversations” with the actions of the Missouri Tigers team bing an “explicit” example of athletes speaking out on issues with Robinson having acted as an “implicit” case.

Nichols first set the scene by pointing out that “there are more people that watch football games in this country than go to church” along with “more people who watch football in this country than vote.”

It was following that statement the CNN anchor made her absurd comparison:

This is where we have a lot of our national conversation and sometimes, athletes use the power implicitly. We saw it all the way back to Jackie Robinson, setting an example on integration and pushing the country forward and sometimes, it’s explicit like it is with these Missouri football players.

She added that she has found it “so interesting” that there’s been an “uptick” and “rebirth” of “athlete activism in recent years” unlike Michael Jordan’s decision in the 1990s to stay away from voicing an opinion on contemporary issues (i.e. give a boost to the far left). Finishing her thought, Nichols cited some recent cases:

But we’ve seen LeBron James got active in the Trayvon Martin case. We’ve seen NFL and NBA players in the “I can't breathe” Eric Garner shirt. We saw the Clippers say they refused to play for their own team owner, Donald Sterling, and now, we can count the Missouri football players among those athletes. 

The relevant portion of the transcript from CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 on November 9 can be found below.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360
November 9, 2015
8:16 p.m. Eastern

ANDERSON COOPER: There are obviously, Rachel, a lot of factors involved here. Faculty members were talking about walking out as well which a number of the protesters had pointed to as well, but it is undeniable the power and we see it that this team has. I mean, they bring in tens of millions of dollars to the school every year. 

RACHEL NICHOLS: Yeah, your guest had been hunger striking for a week and within 48 hours of the football team making an announcement, that's when we saw these resignations. Look, there are more people that watch football games in this country than go to church. There are more people who watch football in this country than vote. This is where we have a lot of our national conversation and sometimes, athletes use the power implicitly. We saw it all the way back to Jackie Robinson, setting an example on integration and pushing the country forward and sometimes, it’s explicit like it is with these Missouri football players. What is so interesting to me is the uptick, the rebirth, we've seen in athlete activism in recent years. You may remember Michael Jordan never got involved in anything, right? He reportedly once said, ‘hey, you know, Republicans buy sneakers, too.” But we’ve seen LeBron James got active in the Trayvon Martin case. We’ve seen NFL and NBA players in the “I can't breathe” Eric Garner shirt. We saw the Clippers say they refused to play for their own team owner, Donald Sterling, and now, we can count the Missouri football players among those athletes. 

NB Daily Media Bias Debate Race Issues Racism Sports CNN Anderson Cooper 360 Video Rachel Nichols Jackie Robinson
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