Culture

Stop Letting Children (aka Professional Athletes) Bully the World

Mike Ehrmann/Pool Photo via AP

Enough is enough, and if professional sports team owners haven’t realized it yet, succumbing to bullying and children’s temper tantrums never works out for anyone… especially in this case, where the adults who own the teams bear all the financial risk.

Let’s all be brutally honest. Athletes are extremely well-paid entertainers. The average Major League Baseball player makes $4,051,490 per year, and the average NBA player earns a whopping $7.7 million. They are paid as high or higher than the biggest stars in film, music, and television. But they are entertainers, and in the same way that an actor is paid huge sums because they cause even higher profits for the studio or production company, these athletes are getting paid exorbitant amounts so that the team owners can make profits. These players have no financial risk and should be incredibly grateful that they are paid such large amounts for playing a sport.

All people, including entertainers of every sort, have their own opinions, especially political opinions in the current divided climate. But there are precedents for athletes using their popularity to further the expression of their goals. Jackie Robinson, Tommy Smith, and Muhammad Ali are only a few of the many athletes who have effected positive change in our culture through the use of their popularity as entertainers. Other athletes went on to become actively involved in politics and became true leaders: Bill Bradley, J.C. Watts, Jack Kemp, and many others capitalized on their popularity to become legitimate leaders on a national level. They became true policymakers by building upon their athletic successes.

But the current athletes in the NBA and MLB do not act as responsible leaders, but as spoiled children. And they need to be taken to task for their behavior.

Despite the many challenges facing all businesses — and especially entertainment industries like athletics — the athletes of the NBA, MLB, WNBA, Major League Soccer, and other sports organizations have now decided to boycott their own games in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. We still don’t know all the facts about the shooting, but these players have opted to put the owners and their entire industries at greater risk by boycotting their own games and causing the franchises to lose even more income than they already have as a result of COVID-19.

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Rather than acting as responsible individuals who use their popularity to call press conferences and publicly state their opinion off the court, they are destroying their own industry by attempting to blackmail the owners into doing what they want. Instead of acting like adults who are grateful to have such high-paying jobs in a difficult financial climate, they are acting like petulant children who are bullying their parents. They could be using their own money for donations to worthwhile causes (and let’s be clear that Black Lives Matter (BLM), an organization of hate, should never be considered a worthy cause especially in comparison to organizations like the United Negro College Fund or the NAACP), but instead are acting like spoiled brats who want the owners to pay for all the things they personally want.

Most of the team owners in these sports are parents, and it is doubtful that any of them would let their children behave this way. If a teenager acted like this to his parent, it is unlikely that the parent would just give in and do whatever the child wants… especially when the child’s behavior is risky to the family’s very survival. And if a parent did spoil their children and allow this kind of churlish behavior, most parents and counselors would guide the parents to understand that surrendering to the demands of children never leads to anything good for anyone in the long run.

But these owners seem to keep backing down and letting the athletes dictate what happens. The athletes need to emotionally grow up, and the owners need to start acting like the mature adults that they are and stop capitulating to spoiled over-paid athletes who are risking the owners’ financial wellbeing. And all fans of sports need to help those owners have the courage to act right and righteously. For their own good, and for the good of that aspect of the entertainment industry.

Americans need to take a stand and boycott any and every sport that supports the evils of BLM. We need to encourage the owners to take a stand (ironically, a stand for their own financial wellbeing) and stop letting athletes who act like children dictate their behavior.

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The owners need to know that the vast majority of Americans would have no issue seeing these well-paid athletes replaced with athletes who are committed to their sport (maybe every team owner needs to re-watch the film The Replacements) and act more like responsible adults who are making outrageous sums of money rather than spoiled children making demands of their parents.

There are tens of thousands of athletes who never made it to the professional leagues. There are amazing athletes playing in Europe, Asia, and around the world who would be ecstatic to play in the NBA, MLB, et al. for a tenth of what these petty “stars” are being paid… and in a very short period of time, Americans will adopt those new athletes as their athletic heroes. The American public has always been fickle in its support for entertainers, and there is no reason that professional athletics should stop being successful enterprises in favor of becoming vocal mouthpieces for these athletes’ petulance.

Americans need to make it clear through their words and actions, through social media and conversations, and in every way possible that we will not support the entertainment of athletics as long as these ignorant athletes control the narrative and behavior of professional sports. I suspect very few of these athletes actually know the details of BLM, about Jacob Blake’s shooting, or about any of the actual details of incidents that have resulted in BLM riots.

I have spoken or exchanged emails with hundreds of people who feel the same way: that the professional athletic organizations of the NBA, MLB, and others who are kowtowing to the whims of these overpaid entertainers should be boycotted until the owners and leagues take back control of athletics, and refuse to bend a knee to the spoiled and bullying athletes. If every one of us who feels this way made our opinions known; if we all shared on social media and websites how disgusting it is that these spoiled children have changed the entertainment of athletics into a bully box for their own warped political opinion; if we all made it clear that, one person at a time, we will step away from watching sports that support BLM; if we all did these things as individuals, the owners would rapidly see that it is not only in the interest of their sports but in their own financial interests to not succumb to these athletes’ demands.

Surrendering to bullies never ends well. The bullies will simply keep bullying more and more until someone stands up to them. It is always imperative to take a stand, to make it clear that the bullying must stop.

Owners and League officials: please stand up against this evil bullying. If not for your own financial wellbeing, then for the good of the sport. If not for the good of the sport, then for your fans. If not for your fans, then stand up because it is always the right thing to do when confronted with bullies.

I especially miss watching baseball. I was never a particular fan of the NBA, but until the owners take a stand for what is right and stop supporting anything having to do with BLM, I will continue to spend my time and money on other forms of entertainment.

Until politics has been removed entirely from the playing field, I hope that you will join me and encourage everyone you know to do the same.

Rabbi Michael Barclay is the Spiritual Leader of Temple Ner Simcha in Westlake Village, Calif., and the author of “Sacred Relationships: Biblical Wisdom for Deepening Our Lives Together.” He can be reached directly at [email protected], and followed on Facebook here.

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