Michael Jordan, NFL, James Naismith discussed on 1A with Joshua Johnson
Sam emailed, I wonder if I was wondering if your guests could touch on the role of money in all of this. I find the sport politics connection, particularly interesting in the ways that politics are brought into sport from those at the top such as owners and those who run the league's in the form of military, flyovers, White House, visits, etc. These things are done because it helps the league's generate revenue, but when athletes bring up politics, they are criticized Gotham Chopra, how would you respond to Sam? I think it's a great point. I think all of these leagues. I mean specially the NBA the NFL the ones we've been speaking about our multi billion dollar corporations, and they're generating a lot of wealth for a lot of different people. So the one of the fascinating things is exactly about that. National anthem issue. We suddenly feature at across the series. And you see the national anthem is such a big part of sports. And so the link and how that's been used to sort of market and wrap these leagues in the American flag. So the politics intersect, and it's a complicated issue. And what it means to fans versus what it means to owners and athletes are are slightly different. So I think it's a great point. And I think, you know, we we do see this owners somehow are often left off the hook the error allowed to do and say, whatever they want to you know, we can all see now who's been contributing to whose campaigns hetero, but somehow and athletes, and particularly African American athletes are outspoken. They take a lot of heat for on. And there's also some political issues that affect owners not a whole lot. But there are some. I mean, there's there's a football team here in Washington with a name that its owner, Dan Snyder has made very clear he has no interest changing no matter what every native American in the country feels. Yeah. This is what people have to understand the moment that there is a stadium built an arena constructed it's inherently political because they need tax payer dollars to do it. And so that means the vote. So that means politics is already there before you ever show up for one game. And a lot of this to whip. Once you started kind of digging deeper and looking at these relationships is that. As got mentioned a lot of this is marketing, the NFL has been taking money from the department of defense for years for military flyovers to market and sell patriotism players before I believe it was two thousand nine didn't even come on the field for the national anthem. So this is marketed purposeful patriotism that is being infected into the game because somebody's collecting a check. So for all these people who look at it as some kind of natural part of the game. It was always force because the one thing that the NFL considering the way they like to market themselves to family that was an easy tool because you talked to any coach, and they always tell you the three Fs with with football. Which is you know, I guess the order is it's faith family football. And that's a that's sort of a mantra in a slogan that they believe in the NFL. So that's how they're marketing this game to you. But is that kind of a reflection of what fans won't I mean, this this is the national anthem and they post nine eleven America. I think that's that. Event that tragedies is exactly what changed it obviously a terror attack on US soil. It changed the way that we all looked at the national anthem. It probably deepened a lot of a lot of those feelings. But make no mistake that it is a business relationship for the NFL. Why that is marketed the way that it is. And so I think fans may look at this emotionally, but understand that the leagues that are marketing this to you. They are looking at it as an opportunity to sell you speaking of that business relationship. It's interesting how the business relationship comes from the executive offices as opposed to some of the players themselves in terms of how engaged or disengaged. They are in politics. Gotham you focus in part on Michael Jordan in the second installment of the three part series. He did not speak up about politics. The way of players did I guess partly because he had so many endorsement deals as the phenomenon that kinda hit the scene. Gene, the particularly in regards to the Senate race in North Carolina in one thousand nine hundred ninety tell us more about that. Yeah. So Michael is an amazing character and cultural flashpoint, and when we talk about the fifty the sixties seventies, there's certain movements the civil rights movement, Vietnam that are more overtly political you start to get into the eighties and then later into the nineties, and there's a lot more subtlety and settled t to it where you also have as the greatest player, I think in the history of the game and not many people, including the greats of this year will argue with that. And you have this rise in the economics of the league television deals, and and just you know, the Lakers Celtics sort of take the league off of tape delay and put it in the mainstream. And then comes this David FOX, Michael Jordan's agent has this great line in the documentary says one thousand nine hundred four was fourteen ninety two because you have burned magic in the NBA finals. And then you have Michael Jordan drafted, and yes, Michael is an interesting character because what he represents culturally, but also because of. Who he is? And where he came from and how he grew up. And so when he's asked later in the nineties to sort of get behind this Jesse helm Harvey Gantt who's running against the notorious racist Jesse Helms, and he's sort of box at it. It becomes a thing. And. You know, it's sort of been hung onto him as a political statement. When in truth, it was probably a sort of casual flippin joking comment. But you know, it's it's something that stuck onto him. And that to this day people really talk about and we try to deconstruct that and it's complex because I think a lot of people, and I'm probably one of them come to his defense. Who says we'll why do we just assume that every black athlete now has to be outspoken, and and also the the cost and the risk at that time is not what you know, what we see today is LeBron James cardinal. Anthony, all these guys they can be outspoken, by the way, doesn't particularly affect it. Certainly doesn't affect the bottom line. Michael had a lot a lot at risk. I wonder how much just the fact that we're social media society plays into all of this. I mean, it seems like if you're Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls who won six championship. Rings in their day. It's easier to just insulate yourself from the constant twenty four hour barrage in your pocket people who are mad at what you said. Or didn't say your you said it, and then to me this is the beauty of this documentary is that. It does wind up kind of at least getting you to critically think about some things. Now, I'm the opposite. I have been very critical of Michael Jordan for his lack seemingly lack of public. Social awareness in terms of speaking out, however through this film, and and just seeing some of the footage realize that Michael's activism, every every level of activism looks different depending on who they who they are. And so they don't have to look the same where Michael Jordan elevator black athletes is with global marketing and being somebody because he was the face of a company in the face of an industry that he by extension was showing fortune five hundred companies and white businessmen and to some degree, you know, mainstream are to a large degree rather mainstream America that you can make a black man the face of a company and the face of an industry, and that is marketable and bankable that was his activism is that he was in control of his image and his empire. And so once I started to see it that way it helped me understand Michael Jordan and why he chose. Does not to be as vocal even if it's something as obvious as coming out against somebody who's an Torius racist like Jesse Helms Paulin Minnesota emailed. What about teammates? If you don't think that animosity builds you're naive. It does build players are drawing lines and standing on either sides of the lines as a coach or team owner. You would really not want this Gotham what about Paul's common? In terms of the players who choose to be more politically active the players who don't and whether that creates friction right? Well, so what we're talking about over the past hour is the inherent politics that are parts of these these because they're made up of human beings. There is an element of there is an element of sports and politics sort of giving us space from each other. And or sports giving us space. And so I think what you see one of the beauty of sports is that you can bring together people of every different complexion every ethnicity. Race socioeconomic class and put them on a team where they the great word is chemistry in sports, where they do put their politics aside, you know, whether it's for three hours or whether it's for a season, and and so, you know, athletes have and this happens with fans also when we go to games, we're all Red Sox fan. I am rejoicing in what is what is going on the last week? I could feel the globe through my here your phones and said, you know, that's one of the beauty of sports is a respite at times from all of these politics. And I think we should celebrate that I think we should enjoy that. But we shouldn't be naive to think that that necessarily. That sports is the place that it has to always be independent of politics. Well, here's what's so interesting about that I've been covering sports now for twenty one years, and when you talk to athletes, they will tell you that the locker room is actually a great place for those different kinds of discussions to take place and better equipped to handle them, then wider society than say us at our regular jobs because athletes have really honest with one another that's number one. And so they're able to get to these things on a deeper level. And even if guys are on different sides of the aisle, it doesn't creating create new friction and the other thing I'd like to bring up to is do you realize that there are guys that are playing alongside each other? Knowing other players have been accused of crimes have done very serious things, and they don't seem to mind plan with them. So I don't understand how somebody, you know, being pro-life pro-choice that that's going to all of a sudden anger somebody to the point. They don't wanna play with them. And they also realize their window is short the average NFL career last three or five years. I don't think that a guy is going to care about how somebody vote because he's trying to extend his career and make his money. Let me get to a few more of your comments before we are out of time. Mike in Kensington, Maryland emailed, African American players are speaking from the heart about something, they know very intimately racism I for one. Although I don't follow any sports think they should be honored not despised for this. Mark in Indiana emailed, the current White House and conservative media will accept support from anyone and conversely attempt to shutdown anyone with with an opinion that's not in line with their agenda ever heard of a guy named Kanye west. Another listener. Or tweeted politics have no place in sports. It's the one place people go to escape keep the game pure Jamal. I wonder if you could respond to this, particularly because I did a little you know, because Google is a thing. And so I asked the Google thing. I was trying to remember the guy who invented basketball Naismith, James Naismith 1891, Massachusetts. And so I go, you know, James Naismith basketball, 1891 Naismith, and I come on this link from the department of humanities Massachusetts about the history. Because the very first basketball game was played in Springfield, Massachusetts in eighteen ninety one doctor James Naismith, invented it. And it tells me that he invented the game as a way to teach Christian people, the true value of athletics. Apparently he was watching a football game. We're one of the players started Cussing, and then eventually went over and apologize. And according to the site from the state of Massachusetts the incident made such an impression on Naismith that he became committed to the idea that physical training could be a means of spreading Christianity. So there's something about the blending of sports, and politics, sports, and value, sports, and advocacy that feels anathema but that is baked into the game..