Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Will the Perceived Threat of Limbaugh As NFL Owner Ignite Political Activism Amongst the Players?
Since Rush Limbaugh announced his intention to seek partial ownership of the St. Louis Rams certain players have publicly objected. As we know Limbaugh regularly says incendiary things on his radio show. He's a highly paid spokesperson for the continued dominance of white male patriarchy. He's not going anywhere anytime soon either. His perceived power exists only as long as it suits those who pay him and support his career. I say that because once it becomes too burdensome or his ties generate too much publicity that threatens the agenda of those who benefit from his boorishness he will become expendable.
There's a number of black NFL players who object to his ownership and they cite his many racist statements as the reason. They even got their union involved. Now Al Sharpton - and Jesse Jackson have jumped in the fray. Sharpton was doing the cable news circuit yesterday. He was surprisingly nuanced in his approach but as with everything their reputation proceeds them. I can understand why there's concern but this was a time for discipline on the part of those players and the racial ambulance chasers. Why? They have little credibility. Between the wife beating, the groupies, the blowing through money and a host of other less than desirable behavior by certain players we're being asked to ignore all of it and instead focus on one person who wishes to make a profit from them. Is Limbaugh supposed to be the only person in a position of would-be authority who holds self-serving interests? Is racist? Are you kidding?
Also since when do these athletes engage in thoughtful political discourse? Limbaugh is a jerk but he made a point when he referred to the behavior of some players as being akin to the Crips and the Bloods without the weapons. Is he wrong or has he instead brought attention to a negative reputation that should be addressed? No one wants to take ownership of that but who can argue about the criminal activities of numerous players even after they've been recruited? Where's the accountability? Being a professional athlete is essentially a highly visible job requiring a certain skill set. Which is why they are paid handsomely. As long as they bring value to the sports. That job in and of itself does not automatically instill values that override the mentality of those that participate.
The perception of condoned criminality and poor moral judgement is the big elephant in the room and it can't be ignored. That isn't racist. Plaxico Burress went to prison for carrying a concealed weapon that discharged in a public place. Michael Vick was just released. This behavior, as exemplified by Rumeal Robinson isn't strictly limited to the NFL. Limbaugh could also buy into an NBA team or other sports. Just like the White House focusing on Fox News as being the villain when MSNBC has Pat Buchanan in their employ, these players are pointing their finger at the wrong thing. The problem isn't Limbaugh in and of itself. He'd have a minority stake in the team. If he became too much of an obstructionist that threatened the rate of return for the other investors he'd be gone.
It seems weird that the only thing certain players respond to - yet again - involves the perceived threat from a white male instead of the out of control behavior of their fellow players. That has more serious ramifications and occurs with increasing frequency. They're not looking at the big picture. There are so few players that take a stand for social justice nowadays because it's all about me-me-me. This was a wasted opportunity to become actively involved in matters that directly impact others. I'm certain there's a certain amount of malfeasance on both sides that may never see the light of day but that isn't the point. Limbaugh is a hypocrite for bringing it up but that doesn't make him any less correct in his assessment.
Forcing the issue by opposing him because he has differing views undermines them and these players don't get it. Now they will have no more excuses for bad behavior on or off the field. I hope they have plans to take a more active role in fighting against injustice and displaying moral leadership. If the threat of an unsympathetic "dad" is making those that engage in childish behavior uncomfortable perhaps Limbaugh's participation will be of benefit overall.