“Stick to Sports” is a Losing Strategy

Michael Geiger

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For a long time, I was a firm believer in the “stick to sports” mantra. Whenever an athlete, coach, or sportswriter made a liberal political statement, I immediately dismissed it. Whether it was the Heat wearing the hoodies for Trayvon Martin, Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the anthem, or Gregg Popovich labeling the US a “racist country,” I refused to grant their point of view any credence. 

However, following the aftermath of Laura Ingraham’s comments advising Lebron James to “shut up and dribble” I realized that my philosophy was wrong. “Stick to sports” is a losing strategy. 

Following a video James did for Uninterrupted with fellow NBA superstar Kevin Durant and SportsCenter anchor Cari Champion, in which he claimed Trump doesn’t “give a fuck about people,” Laura Ingraham responded with this heated statement, “This is what happens when you attempt to leave high school a year early to join the NBA. And it’s always unwise to seek advice from someone who gets paid 100 million dollars to bounce a ball.”

First off, the idea that the manner in which Lebron earns his income harms his credibility in any way is asinine. I’m old enough to remember a time when conservatives applauded merit-based economic success and cited it as proof of capitalism’s credibility. Instead, Ingraham uses it as justification to silence the opinion of someone she disagrees with. 

By the way, LeBron is currently using $41 million of that money he got for bouncing a ball to put 1,100 kids through college. Ingraham is worth a reported $45 million, and I have yet to see what critical benefits she provides to society. 

Ingraham later continued to discredit James based on his career choice, “So, keep the political commentary to yourself, and as someone once said, shut up and dribble.” This line of reasoning fails on multiple levels; the most blatant is that Fox News often fails to follow Ingraham’s advice when bringing on right-wing celebrities like Jon Voight, Kid Rock, and Chuck Norris. Shouldn’t Jon Voight just shut up and act? Shouldn’t Kid Rock just shut up and sing? Shouldn’t Chuck Norris just shut up and kick ass? Maybe the reason the Right doesn’t have a cult of celebrity like the Left is lack of supply, not lack of demand. 

For the record, I disagree with LeBron James on just about every political stance he’s ever made public. I thought Colin Kaepernick’s protests were misguided. Gregg Popovich’s comments about our “racist country” made me just as angry as the next conservative. I’m not saying these people are astute political commentators. I’m not even saying we have to listen to them. All I’m saying is that we should under no circumstances shut them up. 

How often are conservatives under attack on the free speech battleground? The Left uses everything in its playbook to stop expressions of liberty: black bloc riots, safe spaces, biased university administrators, etc. Their constant assault on the first amendment is reprehensible, but the solution isn’t to try and beat them at their own game. 

Obviously, conservatives have been dealt a bad hand. Constant vilification in both the political and cultural arenas is more than enough to piss some people off. I understand Laura Ingraham’s anger. I agree with her that LeBron James was incorrect in his analysis of the president. But in order to maintain the moral high ground, we can’t run any trick plays; we’ve got to win this game at the line of scrimmage. 

The pursuit of truth isn’t easy for conservatives; we’re not afforded the same luxuries as the Left. We don’t have a war chest of famous athletes, actors, talk show hosts, comedians, and musicians at our disposal. All we have is one another, each of us armed with the knowledge that the battle we face will be long and painful. The shining city on the hill is burning, but we must do as Andrew Breitbart said and walk towards the fire.