The White House is calling for ESPN host Jemele Hill to be fired for tweeting that President Donald Trump “is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.” Personally, I would like to see Trump fired for inviting Russia to hack our elections and saying there were “some very fine people” among the KKK and neo-Nazi mob that sparked a deadly race riot in Charlottesville.
Trump has more than invited the fairly accurate criticism Hill leveled this week, and those who voted for him are complicit in condoning Trump’s nationalist hate speech dating back to his birther movement attacks on President Barack Obama and campaign rhetoric slamming Mexicans as rapists and drug dealers.
Not only should Trump be fired in 2020 (or sooner if it turns out he broke the law colluding with Russia or obstructing the investigation), any corporation that does not stand up to Trump’s hateful and divisive policies and statements deserves to be fired by consumers — and that includes ESPN if it buckles to White House pressure and fires Hill. As big of a sports fans as I am, I will stop watching the network.
Why is it that sports and politics aren’t supposed to mix? Sports are a reflection of our society — the violence, the greed, the racism, the passion, the bitter disappointment, the rush of victory — so why shouldn’t professional athletes and journalists be able to weigh in on the politics that shape our society?
Hill took to Twitter Monday to criticize Trump for his frankly disqualifying behavior as president, ultimately calling him a white supremacist, which elicited a rebuke from her employer. But why? It’s hard to argue that Trump hasn’t brought out the worst in Americans throughout his campaign and early presidency, hiring racists like Steve Bannon and Steven Miller as his top policy advisers.
So why shouldn’t Hill, who is paid to offer her opinions on sports, be able to offer her opinions on politics? Seems to me the two are intertwined. Take, for example, the related issue of athlete protests against police violence against African-Americans.
Last year at this time I wrote that Colin Kaepernick and Brandon Marshall took a patriotic risk to take a knee during the national anthem in protest of police killings that overwhelmingly target African-Americans. They should be praised, not punished, I wrote.
John Elway recently talked about the national protests in the context of Marshall and other players, supporting his right to protest but also demanding that the team and the game come first. While the politically conservative Elway could have made a stronger statement by signing the still-unemployed Kaepernick — whom the Broncos once coveted — at least he defended his right to peacefully protest.
There is a solid argument that signing a read-option quarterback like Kaepernick should be done to back up a similar QB or run an offense with geared to that kind of game. That is not Denver right now, although offensive coordinator Mike McCoy had success with Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning, so he can do both.
The better question right now is what could McCoy and head coach Vance Joseph do with Andrew Luck, who rumor has it wants out of Indianapolis? Wouldn’t that be the ultimate irony? Elway trades for the guy who replaced Manning at Indy. Stranger things have happened … like Denver bringing back Brock Osweiler.
Kaepernick and Marshall will be viewed historically as heroic figures who risked their careers to call out injustice. Kaepernick, in fact, expressed his support for Hill, who also did what we all need to do in these dark times brought on by an irresponsible and dangerous president — resist openly, publicly and proudly.