The phrase “stick to sports” has been tossed around many times, with a recent example being when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the National Anthem. The issue was apparently so important that even the president became involved in the matter through Twitter. People just do not take kindly to athletes providing their own political opinion on certain issues, as though athletes are simply there to entertain us and nothing more. Lately, many people have subscribed to the idea that athletes are a commodity. Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham is one of those people, and she was very outspoken on her show Thursday, Feb. 15. Ingraham told basketball players LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors to “keep the political commentary to yourselves, and shut up and dribble.”
“Shut up and dribble,” “stick to sports” and every other variation of that phrase are something we as a society should do away with. Athletes, actors and musicians are followed closely by millions upon millions of people. Why should they not be able to voice their opinions, especially if those opinions can produce a positive change in society?
During her show, Ingraham recently had a segment in which she discussed what James and Durant had to say in regards to their opinion on President Donald Trump. In the interview Ingraham took issue with, James and Durant were taking part in Uninterrupted’s segment called “Riding with the Champion,” during which the two players rode with television personality Cari Champion through James’s hometown of Akron, Ohio. James and Durant did not hide their disdain for the sitting president, with Durant and the Warriors declining to visit the White House after winning the NBA championship 2017 and James calling Trump a “bum” on Twitter back in September 2017.
Obviously, the very credible folks at Fox News took issue with this kind of talk, and Ingraham in particular felt the need to address what the players had said. Only this time, things were a little different. In addition to the “shut up and dribble” comment, Ingraham went on to make fun of James’s and Durant’s use of grammar and denigrated the two seemingly based on their education. Ingraham specifically called into question James’s schooling when she said that one should not take advice from someone who attempted to leave high school a year early to play in the NBA.
This kind of animosity towards athletes who advocate for what they believe in will never make sense to me. When did an athlete become a commodity, someone (but unfortunately turning into something) that is meant to serve only one purpose? There is constant criticism to athletes, actors or musicians who publicly speak out against politicians. This is not the first time Ingraham has rudely dismissed someone’s political opinion. She most recently told late-night host Jimmy Kimmel to “shut up and make us laugh once in a while” when he discussed the importance of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). What confuses me is that while those on the political right will unabashedly criticize and belittle athletes and actors, deeming them unqualified to hold a political opinion, they seem to not even come close to realizing the hypocrisy in electing a reality TV star to the presidency. If we as a country are expected to respect such a person as our president, then the least we can do is to respect the opinions of those who perform on the highest level for our entertainment.