Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Sports

Does Colin Kaepernick Have a Case?

San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick has drawn controversy for his decision to sit during the singing of the American national anthem. He said:

I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.

The protest undoubtedly puts the 49ers in a difficult situation–if they stand by their quarterback, they risk offending conservative supporters and if they repudiate him they risk offending supporters of Black Lives Matter. If they try to thread the needle, they risk upsetting all sides. From a football standpoint, protests like this are bad business. This is why Kaepernick makes no attempt to justify the protest from a football standpoint–for him, the issue is bigger than football. It takes a strong commitment for an athlete to do something like this. In 1996, the Denver Nuggets’ star point guard, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, also chose to sit during the anthem. He was fined $30,000 and traded to the Sacramento Kings at the end of the season, even though he had just had a career year averaging almost 20 points per game shooting almost 40% from three point range and 93% from the free throw line. All the Nuggets got in return was Sarunas Marciulionis, an ageing shooting guard who had been slowed by a crippling leg injury and averaged just 10 points per game for the Kings that year. Abdul-Rauf’s new team stuck him on the bench behind mediocre journeyman Anthony Johnson, and Abdul-Rauf was out of the league two years later. He was only 28. Three years later he attempted a brief comeback for the Vancouver Grizzlies–a Canadian franchise at that time–but it quickly fizzled. Abdul-Rauf was one of the greatest off the dribble shooters of his generation. Phil Jackson compared him to this year’s MVP, Steph Curry:

He infamously dropped 51 points on the Utah Jazz’s hall of fame point guard John Stockton, an elite defender with multiple all-NBA defensive team awards who holds the all-time career steals record (and it’s not close):

But in the middle of his prime he was cast aside for pennies on the dollar because the Nuggets did not want their brand associated with his politics. Abdul-Rauf received death threats for years, and in 2001 his home was burned to the ground–Abdul-Rauf suspects it was arson by the klan. That’s the risk Kaepernick is taking for his beliefs. He and his family may lose a lot of money and the safety of their property and persons may even be called into question. So I want to take what he’s saying seriously and consider its substance.

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The NFL Scandals Don’t Matter

I’ve recently watched the season premiers of two shows I like to watch–South Park and Saturday Night Live. Both shows were returning after a long hiatus, but rather than lampoon the intervention against ISIS, the crisis in Libya, the conflict in Ukraine, or global indifference to climate change, both shows chose to lead off with the recent scandals in the NFL, with South Park making fun of the Washington Redskins name controversy, while SNL mocked the league’s indifference to the domestic violence committed by players Ray Rice (punched his fiancee in an elevator) and Adrian Peterson (beat his kid with a switch), among others. My Facebook feed is dominated by this stuff. This is really unfortunate, because it is yet another case of the American voting public being distracted from the serious issues by soap opera outrage politics.

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Was Stephen A. Smith “Blaming the Victim”?

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith has been suspended by the network for a week following comments he made concerning domestic violence. Smith has been accused of “blaming the victim”–attributing violence exclusively to the wrongful behavior of the victim rather than to the perpetrator. Is that what Smith did? Let’s take a look.

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Donald Sterling Should Keep the Clippers

Donald Sterling, landlord and owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, holds exceptionally repugnant moral views. In a recorded conversation with one of his girlfriends, Sterling allegedly said:

It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?

You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want.  The little I ask you is not to promote it on [Instagram] and not to bring them to my games.

There’s nine minutes of it, if you’re bored. While at the time of writing, the recording has not yet been authenticated, it’s quite likely it will be, because Donald Sterling has a history of saying racist and sexist things. Many people are disgusted with the guy, as well they should be. Some are however calling for the NBA to force Sterling to sell the Clippers. This is a mistake. Here’s why.

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Developing Countries Shouldn’t Host the Olympics

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia got started yesterday. In the run-up, we’ve heard a variety of zany stories, from booked hotel rooms that for whatever reason were not ready to a road so expensive it could have been paved with foie gras. The Sochi games may go off without a hitch from here on out, and I wish the Russians the best of luck, but developing countries are not good choices for hosting major sporting events, whether they be the Olympics, the World Cup, or any such thing. I say this not because the athletes and foreign press have to make do with inferior conditions (although sometimes they do), but because it is not in the interest of the citizens of developing countries for their states to host these games.

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