In its continuing quest to greatly injure public discourse by gifting legitimacy to arguments from all sides, the Washington Post op-ed page published a hilariously dumb and wrong-headed column Friday by rural Ohio newspaper editor Gary Abernathy, mourning the loss of American professional sports’ apolitical purity.
What makes sports so popular in our culture? The answer is simple: It’s a couple of hours of escape from the real world during which people from all walks of life can forget about their troubles and cheer for a competition that, at the end of the day, is relatively meaningless.
Abernathy positions his gripe as primarily to do with athletes—NBA athletes in particular—injecting their personal politics into sports as an entertainment product. Not coincidentally, Abernathy’s examples of these intrusive personal politics are confined to “liberal causes;” even less coincidentally, Abernathy is a self-described conservative.
But in recent years, under Stern and now Adam Silver, the NBA has fully embraced the politics of the left. There seems to be no cause too liberal for corporate NBA, which emboldens the league’s players to follow suit and entangle their personal politics in league affairs. It is in that light that we digest the comments about President Trump by James and Stephen Curry after Trump’s withdrawal of a White House invitation for the champion Golden State Warriors.
So, as Abernathy has it, LeBron’s social media behavior and the travel plans of the Golden State Warriors are a continuation of political behavior by “corporate NBA,” and now “league affairs” are somehow intertwined with LeBron’s personal distaste for a batshit President. Rather than do the work of explaining how, exactly, the actual business or actual product of the NBA—a massive, international corporate entity with billionaire owners and a unionized workforce—are compromised or otherwise even tainted by the off-court outspokenness of some of its…