Features Australia

Professional sports are the wokest of them all

How activism is destroying sports and sports journalism

17 April 2021

9:00 AM

17 April 2021

9:00 AM

Campaign contributions are public information in the United States.  So they know that political journalists lean Democrat massively, double figures to one at a minimum. I bet all readers already knew as much. But here’s something that might surprise you. Sports reporters and commentators lean left way more even than political journalists and commentators. One analysis put Democrat to Republican supporters at 27 to one.  It turns out that if you want the most woke, politically correct crowd who have no backbone and no willingness to stand up to cancel culture then you should pick up the sports page of your paper or turn on an ESPN sports show on TV or listen to pro sports administrators. Indeed as far as one can tell, only one big name US sports commentator (Clay Travis, whose daily podcasts I thoroughly recommend) publicly backed Donald Trump at the last election. No one on ESPN, CBS Sports, or NBC did. Nor any of the big podcast sports talking heads. Publicly, at least, they were Trump-hating, virtue-signalling foot soldiers for wokeness, cancel culture and Joe Biden.

When you think about it, that’s sort of weird: the biggest audience for sports, by far, are middle-aged men who politically lean right more than just about any other demographic going. In other words, the consumers of sports have views that the sports journalists, administrators and TV reporters who serve them really don’t like, indeed mock.

Here are a couple of recent examples from the US. Take basketball to start.  I played Canadian varsity basketball in university. I love the game. But I now won’t watch any NBA games and I am not alone. A few years back the NBA moved its all-star game from Charlotte, North Carolina because that state had legislated for female-only toilets. Last year the league went so woke and so indulged in virtue-signalling against the police, white men and anyone with views that were perfectly normal only a decade ago that the NBA pushed its alienation of huge swathes of its core audience to new heights. And the consequences are showing. Remember last year’s NBA finals with the LA Lakers against Miami – so two of the most desirable big city catchment areas. The average TV audience per game was under seven million viewers. And it was broadcast on free-to-air TV. These are disastrous numbers. In the 1990s NBA finals games on TV could get up to 37 million viewers. (And since then the US population has grown by some 50 million souls.)

Want more context, in case you think maybe Americans have gone off basketball? Well, the recent college basketball final that played last week between a tiny Catholic college Gonzaga in Washington State and a tiny Baptist college in Texas (so just about the least desirable catchment audiences imaginable) pulled in 17 million TV viewers – 10 million more than the NBA. Yes, yes, yes I know that the NBA product for anyone who knows basketball is these days pretty awful with barrages of three point attempts, mindless dunks galore and rules that come close to forbidding the playing of defence while the US college product (where the rules are enforced and defence is played) produces without doubt the best display of good basketball going in the world. But that doesn’t come close to explaining a 10 million person TV-watching disparity right now. The NBA has gone over-the-top woke, with LeBron James being the face of the mindless, know-nothing, happy to regurgitate the latest Twitter wokery crowd. It’s even so bad in the US that some sports bars are finding that their patrons are demanding that the NBA be turned off all their multiple TV sets. And meantime, the NBA is taking so much money from China that it (and LeBron) refuse to criticise in any way China’s treatment of Uyghurs or anything else. They’ll kneel during the US anthem, attack all things American, but say not a peep about China. Turns out a lot of people who love sports really, really hate that.

Or take baseball, which has been on a slow, steady decline in terms of its US popularity for decades. (Trivia fact:  In the 1950s the three biggest sports in the US were baseball, boxing and horse racing. Only baseball rates much at all today, but it’s far behind today’s massive market leader gridiron, the NFL. Its US audiences dwarf all other sports.) Anyway, last week the Commissioner of Major League Baseball Rob Manfred completely caved in to the Twitter cancel culture mobs. He ordered this year’s All Star game to be moved out of Atlanta to Denver. Why? Because the Twitter mobs were apoplectic about the new State of Georgia voting laws that brought back just a tiny few limits on when and how people could vote, limits that had been jettisoned totally during the pandemic. According to the ESPN talking heads and Twitter mobs this was a return to Jim Crow laws. Joe Biden actually said that. Activists and Biden started pressuring baseball to move the game as well as pressuring the big corporations in Georgia (think Coke for instance). And so Manfred caved.

And then the facts came out. Baseball has its head office in New York State.  These new Georgia laws were so mild that voting in New York (the most Dem of Democrat States) would be – no, is – more restricted than in Georgia. Baseball wasn’t moving out of New York. The same goes for Colorado, Denver’s home state. And then people pointed out you can’t get a beer or pick up your tickets at baseball games without showing ID. So what’s the problem with showing ID when voting in Georgia (and New York and Colorado)? And then it was noticed that Manfred belonged to the Augusta National golf club in Georgia, home of the Masters. Would he be quitting his membership it was asked. To ask is to know as virtue-signalling can never involve any personal sacrifice. (P.S. The Masters golf tournament never caves to anyone. It was threatened by woke advertisers a few years back and just put the tourney on TV for free. Golf, the least woke sport going.)

Oh, and then it was noticed that Atlanta is an over-50 per cent black city and Denver is under 15 per cent. So moving the $100 million dollar All Star game was going to hurt actual blacks. Loads of them. The backlash against this dumb decision became so bad that Joe Biden walked back his support for it (basically lying and denying he’d called for it in the first place).

I feel torn on this one as my late dad loved baseball. When we’re back in North America I always go to a game or two. But no more. The usual high-minded conservative attitude of not sinking to their level is not working. It’s plain it’s not working. More and more conservatives realise we have to make life as tough for these pathetic sports administrators and woke corporate CEOs as the Left regularly threatens to do. And that’s starting to happen in the US. Conservatives, time for it to start here too! Qantas anyone, given that they did as much as anyone to ruin rugby union with their PC demands?

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