Saturday, June 25, 2022

Smart Move, NBA Now Embracing Social Protest Activities.

March 31, 2018 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Politics, Sports, Weekly Columns

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( If I am being honest, I scoffed at the insinuation that America’s fascination with entertainment and titillation had aligned her destiny with a Roman Empire that many thought would never fall from its position of preeminence. Most scholars agree that the fall of Rome is attributable to internal problems, not a challenge from a foreign power. President Abraham Lincoln issued the following cryptic statement regarding his beloved nation.

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

If Rome had an Achilles Heel, it would be its populations insatiable desire for mindless entertainment such as Gladiator fights that provided citizens a cherished opportunity to escape their marginal life. Yesterday it was Gladiator games, today it is a wide-array of athletic contests that provide similarly situated citizens with a needed, yet fleeting, opportunity to escape meaningless lives.

It is the realization that various forms of entertainment, most notably athletics, serves as an escape that made me half-smile at the National Basketball Association (NBA) strategic decision to embrace ineffectual and therefore inconsequential social movements.

Please give me a moment to expound on what the NBA League Office has done to dodge the unfocused wrath of contemporary protest groups such as Black Lives Matter. The latest NBA chess move is in response to the murder of Stephon Clark, an African-American male who was shot twenty-times by local law enforcement officers who mistook his cellular phone for a gun. Clark was killed while standing in his grandmother’s backyard.

Years of academic study and political experience informs my understanding that any system of oppression will respond to any act of insurgency by refining itself as a survival mechanism. Invariably the system re-emerges stronger than ever.

When viewed through this prism, it is obvious that the NBA League Office has learned from the failures of their less politically savvy brethren, the National Football League, and decided to embrace, if not welcome, what amounts to minor inconveniences by “enraged” activists. One needs to look no further than the Sacramento Kings reaction to a protest resulting from the aforementioned Stephon Clark’s demise.

In an orchestrated maneuver that feigned solidarity with protestors, the NBA League Office had players from both the Sacramento Kings and Boston Celtics stand at half-court adorned in warm-up T-shirts bearing Stephon Clark’s name. As if this were not enough, players appeared in a public service message built around a message of “Accountability. We Are One” that communicated their support for protestors.

Power-brokers within the NBA realize that the worst thing that they can do is resist either the presence or protest activities of what appears to be an unsophisticated flash mob. Instead of resisting and therefore adding to such emotion-fueled moments of discord, NBA leaders have decided to go a step beyond welcoming the protest, they have become to be participants in these expressions of righteous indignation. I am confident that you will agree that the NBA is willing to do whatever is required for the show to go on.

I am confident that other sports leagues will recognize the inherent genius in not resisting and unintentionally adding to the energized state of emotionally-charged protestors. The act of welcoming the protest is one level, the allowance of millionaire athletes to verbalize their commitment to the struggles of poor and working-class people who are defenseless not only when confronted by officers in the street, but also during any future court-proceedings without retribution for their words causes confusion against protestors who no longer have an enemy to rage against. All the while, the game will go on.

This situation creates a most interesting dilemma for activists reliant on an enemy that opposes their goals. What happens when the enemy ceases public resistance of their opponents’ dramatic protests? Does the movement have to die?

The most reasonable counter for activists seeking to continue their rebellion against an oppressive/exploitive system is found in their ability to develop a political agenda that is neither reactionary nor devoid of an executable plan aimed at securing tangible gains that extend further than proving a point in the court of public opinion. As with any valid social movement, today’s activists need to develop priorities, an agenda, a strategic plan, and work toward executing that plan to secure goals. Although the alluded to activist framework is far from exhilarating and will most likely never result in one’s appearance on national television with a look of rage, it is undoubtedly the most logical path to winning significant tangible concessions against this unconscionably strong opponent.

Until contemporary activists learn to replace reactionary politics with sober-minded planning and execution one thing is for certain, the show will go on and they will continue to be on the outside hollering while today’s Roman citizens scream for modern-day gladiators.

Staff Writer; Dr. James Thomas Jones III

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One may also connect with this brother via TwitterDrJamestJones.

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