April 20, 2018

Fighting Bigotry with Basketballs

Aaron Lavitsky ‘19

On February 18, Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham responded to a video of NBA stars LeBron James and Kevin Durant discussing the country’s current administration. She started her segment by saying “this is a dumb jock alert!” and proceeded to say that the players know nothing of what they are talking about and advised the two to “shut up and dribble,” saying their comments on President Trump were “ignorant” and “barely intelligible.” Ingraham then cited James’ decision to go right to the NBA from high school as a reason for the Cavaliers superstar’s stupidity.
Ingraham then posed a question to the viewer: “must they run their mouths like that? Unfortunately kids, and some adults, take these ignorant comments seriously.”
This is not the first time that athletes and political analysts have crossed paths before. In 2017, several Fox News analysts had many hateful things to say about football players who knelt during the national anthem.
The real problem that most have with Ingraham’s statements during the segment is the people they were directed toward. James and Durant have not been the only ones within the NBA to publicly criticize the current administration. Head coaches like San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich and Golden State’s Steve Kerr have openly criticized the President several times, yet Fox News never aired a segment about what they were saying.
So why is this the case?
Many believe Ingraham was being racist during her statements, and that her remarks that James and Durant weren’t capable of having valid political opinions was simply due to their skin color. Kerr and Popovich, two white male coaches were not criticized for their comments while James and Durant, two black male athletes, were. Ingraham, meanwhile, has had a history of making somewhat questionable remarks related to race and Fox News network is not known for their appreciation for outspoken athletes.
In response to these remarks, James and Durant spoke heavily against Ingraham and racism during All Star Weekend. James adopted the hashtag #WeWillNotShutUpAndDribble while also discussing with the media why he thinks it is so important for him to show his political views.
“We will definitely not shut up and dribble,” James said. “I mean too much to society, too much to the youth, too much to so many kids who feel like they don't have a way out.”

While some like Ingraham would disagree, James – one of the highest paid athletes in the world – does have a lot of influence over the youth of America. And while one may not agree with the political views for which he is advocating, the way he responded to adversity and bigotry is undoubtedly a positive influence on this country’s youth.

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