The idea that sports teams have to say anything during this crisis/chaos is a mightily flawed one.
While teams position themselves as community institutions, and still could be if they wanted, they only do so for profit. They bring communities together, they’ll tell you, but only when everyone is spending $90 a ticket and/or drinking in the nearby bars they own. These are corporations owned by the 1%, and expecting them to lead change and turn minds is the same as expecting Apple or Amazon to do so.
The corporatization of America is a big reason we got here in the first place, after all, and sports teams are only an example of that.
But that doesn’t mean they’re not going to try, and for the most part, that means they’re going to fuck it up. In their boardrooms (or Zoom boardrooms hopefully right now), silence equals a loss of dollars. So off they truck; most of them into the abyss.
For instance, here’s having no sense of yourself and leaping into a waterless pool.
Not that Dan Snyder has ever bothered to care or even notice what anyone but Jerry Jones thinks of him. But having a racial slur as your team’s name, while being dismissive or downright mocking of any call to change it pretty much means you need to sit in the corner on this one. New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez scorched the Washington football team on Twitter:
Honorable mention to the Chicago Blackhawks, who have the same problem as the Washington football team, and didn’t use the word “police” once. This is not a time for tiptoeing or trying to appease everyone. Luckily, some of their players have greatly outdone them.
Full disclosure: I ran a Hawks fanzine and website with a problematic name and logo for years and it took far too long for me to change both. I got there in the end, but it took far too much prodding.
Moving into the cheering-on-the-cops category, we have the New York Islanders. Then again, as Long Island is one of the epicenters of white flight, perhaps this is just playing to their fanbase perfectly.
Sticking in the hockey world, here’s the Pittsburgh Penguins statement.
According to Greg Wyshynski, the Penguins deleted this photo celebrating the Thin Blue Flag 48 hours before releasing that statement:
Are the Penguins alone? Of course not, this is hockey, dope!
Here’s the Avalanche’s statement. Here’s the Avalanche in January.
Some ground to be made up, to be sure and to be polite.
And just to round off the NHL’s doofus-ery, here’s the Vegas Golden Knights using dozens of words to basically say “All Lives Matter.” The Knights were happy to play the “symbol of survival and unity” card after the Vegas massacre during their inaugural season, without ever actually pushing for gun control or anything resembling it. Again, attempting to appease everyone here when there is clearly an aggrieved population and perpetrators.
I don’t mean to pick on hockey...well, that’s not true, I definitely mean to pick on hockey. But they’re not the only ones. Here are the New York Yankees, always remembering to forward the brand when trying to appear to be understanding.
The Yankees also did this after the scope of the atrocities the NYPD has committed during the protests in the city has become known and reported. Wide left, Bombers.
The Yankees aren’t alone in baseball, because of course they’re not. Here are the Chicago Cubs, and while thinking they hit all the notes conveniently forget that they’re perhaps the most pro-Trump ownership in the country. It’s hard to build bridges when you’re having Trump fund-raisers in your own goddamn stadium.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t teams on the other side of the spectrum. There certainly are. The Baltimore Orioles are there, and being part of a city that has suffered greatly due to police brutality and racism might give them a greater perspective.
The Tampa Bay Rays and Rowdies also showed the way, mentioning more names than just George Floyd, actually saying “police brutality” and “we can’t breathe,” and actually promising action. Though $100K a year for a MLB team would seem just north of a token gesture, but it’s beyond what most have done. Throw in the Chicago Red Stars for self-reflection The Lynx, who have clashed with the MPD before, also outlined specific actions they will take. .
Another team statement to follow and share is the Washington Wizards, who didn’t even shrink from directly challenging the mishpane orange coward in the White House.
In the long run, teams should be judged on their actions and what they force their leagues to do as a whole. As only a precious few have even mentioned that, it wouldn’t be wise to sit on a hot stove waiting for those teams to take action. Even Minneapolis-based teams haven’t terminated the contracts they have with the MPD, as the Minneapolis School Board has. This is the kind of thing that should be watched for.
Sadly, most of the statements don’t make it seem likely anything like that will happen en masse.