Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

White America still doesn’t get why athletes stand up for Black people

LeBron James and Anthony Davis kneel with teammates before the 2020 NBA Finals.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis kneel with teammates before the 2020 NBA Finals.
Image: Getty Images

Even after Colin Kaepernick, Donald Trump, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, national protests, Jacob Blake, and the storming of the Capitol by homegrown American terrorists, a new poll has discovered that America — “the land of the free and home of the brave” — still isn’t fond of athletes taking a stand on racial, political, or social issues.

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According to Axios/Ipsos’ latest “Hard Truths” poll,” 50 percent of Americans think professional athletes should use their platform to express views on national issues. But when it comes to whether those same Americans believe athletes’ views make a positive impact, that’s when things get interesting.

Eighty-three percent of Democrats, 62 percent of Independents, 83 percent of Blacks, 78 percent of Asians, and 67 percent of Hispanics think that it’s having a positive impact. Compare that to 68 percent of Republicans who think the impact is a negative one. And when it comes to white people, it’s an even split, with 49 percent on either side of the question. Privilege is being able to live in a grey area when it comes to situations as serious as these.

The poll also found that the nation’s thoughts on pregame kneeling are still largely correlated with race. Who woulda thought?

Between 54 and 59 percent of the country still has an issue with athletes, at any level, taking a knee during the anthem. Seventy-five percent of Black people are cool with it, while only 28 percent of whites feel it’s appropriate, as 57 percent of Americans overall feel pro athletes should be required to stand during the song that has a racist third stanza.

But wait, there’s more.

Over half the country (55.5 percent) would be opposed to a ban on Native American-themed mascots, as they view this country’s first inhabitants as a gimmick, and not human beings. And to make things worse, Eighty-seven percent of Americans say using a racial slur as a team name is wrong, but, yet, 60 percent of them think it’s fine for that same team to use a picture or cartoonish depiction of a Native American as its mascot.

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Make it make sense, please.

In 2018, a Washington Post poll discovered that 53 percent of Americans felt it was ‘never appropriate’ to kneel, just eight months after Trump made his “get that son of a bitch off the field right now” comments, directed at Kaepernick and other Black players taking a knee in the NFL. The Washington Post conducted a similar poll last September, which found that 56 percent of Americans believed it was now appropriate for athletes to kneel during the National Anthem, after the events of last summer.

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A day later, the 2020 NFL season began, where fans in attendance booed the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans for having a moment of silence in the name of unity.

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America’s hate for any sort of upliftment for people of color remains undefeated. And you don’t need a poll to tell you that.

Saginaw Native. Morehouse Man. Syracuse (Newhouse) Alum. 2019 & 2020 NABJ Award Winner. 2016 PABJ Journalist of the Year. I only eat my wings lemon-peppered. And I like brown liquor & brown women.