Recently, we’ve had a string of athletes using their first amendment rights to express their views on some controversial topics. Let’s start with DeSean Jackson and Stephen Jackson (no relation) expressing their support of an infamously anti-semitic and anti-gay public figure. I won’t say their name because I don’t want to give him any more of a platform than he already has. If you really need to know who it is, no one is stopping you from googling the incident.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver, DeSean Jackson posted something anti-semitic on his instagram and then claimed to not fully understand it’s content and even went as far as accepting invitations to Holocaust museums and speaking with Jewish leaders to understand his wrongdoing. I respect that he did that whether it was to protect his public persona or not.
Enter former NBA player and Malice at the Palace participant, Stephen Jackson, who then doubled down on what DeSean originally posted and backed up the anti-semitic rhetoric. This isn’t the first time DeSean Jackson has posted support of this discriminative individual on his Instagram. The most baffling thing about this whole ordeal is that after DeSean did all of these things to reconstruct his public image as someone willing to learn and understand why hatred like this is wrong, however, he reiterated his support of the original post soon after. Stephen Jackson then decided to threaten Charles Barkley after Barkley came out in opposition to this individual and the posts made by DeSean. Then DeSean voiced his support for Stephen! How stupid can you possibly be?
The Eagles are known for giving players second chances, namely Michael Vick and Riley Cooper, but this is too much. Jackson needs to be cut if he continues to support this type of hatred.
Another example of stupid activity is happening in the NBA right now. As some of you may know, the NBA season is about to get underway in Orlando in their virtual “bubble”. The players are on lockdown and they have a strict set of rules to ensure their safety. 99.9% of the players are respecting and abiding by these rules, which has resulted in an extremely low rate of infection by the virus. That .1% is Dwight Howard. He has been reported several times by other players and/or staff for not wearing a mask in public areas. Howard has also been quoted as saying he is anti-mask and actually threw in that he is also anti-vaccine, which was unprompted. Kick him out the bubble immediately. He’s a threat to the players safety and frankly, he’s a jackass.
These recent events have made me think back on the wise words of Charles Barkley:
“I am not a role model. I’m not paid to be a role model. I’m paid to wreak havoc on the basketball court. Parents should be role models. Just because I can dunk a basketball, doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.”
Charles has a great point. While I believe that anyone with this type of platform should use it as an opportunity to be a role model, they do not have to. He’s right though, parents should be the real role models. They should talk to their kids about these events and the attitudes of the players they look up to. Just because someone is a good basketball player, doesn’t mean they’re a good person. Don’t get me wrong, there are a TON of players who conduct themselves in a way that should be looked up to and admired. You can’t condone terrible behavior because someone can help your team win.
I’ve recently had to come to terms with this. One of the players who voiced their (muddled) support for the anti-semite was Allen Iverson. I looked up to him as a child and patterned my own basketball game after his. A lot of kids wanted to be like Mike, but I wanted to be like AI. According to the PhillyVoice, Allen had this to say about his support:
“I respect ***** *********’s strong voice on behalf of Black people and his impact on the Black community,” Iverson said. “I also acknowledge that he is viewed as a controversial figure and I am aware that he has made remarks and comments that are different from my own views and beliefs.”
When his view is that “Jews are Satan”, that’s where I would have drawn the line of my support. Allen didn’t feel that way. You can’t tell me you’re a huge fan of Hitler, and then expect me to assume you meant his art. While athlete’s have every right to voice their opinions, you shouldn’t hold those opinions to a higher standard than anyone else.