Sports

Rights and Wrongs of Sports Boycotts

NBA players' brief boycott in protest of police abuses and racism raises the more general question of when such boycotts are appropriate. The strongest case for them is when the sports events organizers are themselves perpetrators of grave injustice, even more so when the event directly causes such wrongs.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Over the last two days, NBA players have boycotted their league's playoff games in protest of police brutality and racism, and players in several other professional sports leagues have followed suit. NBA players have now agreed to resume playing in the near future, and I expect the same thing is likely to happen in other leagues. But the whole episode still raises the more general issue of when and if sports boycotts are justified. This situation is not the first time players or others have advocated boycotting a sports event, and it is unlikely to be the last.

It may not be easy to come up with a rule that effectively deals with every case. But, at least as a general rule, I think there is good justification for boycotts when the organizers of the event in question are themselves perpetrating a serious injustice, and even more when holding the event directly causes injustices in and of itself. On  the other hand, the case is weaker when the purpose of the boycott is to pressure otherwise innocent third parties into supporting a political cause—even a just one.

I have previously advocated boycotting Olympics, World Cup tournaments, and other major sports events hosted by oppressive authoritarian regimes, and ideally denying them the right to host such events in the first place. The reason is that the hosts are directly culpable in perpetrating grave evil, and hosting such events almost inevitably provides a propaganda opportunity for them and bolsters their position on the international stage:

The standard argument against boycotts is the traditional idea that international sports events should be kept free of politics. The problem with this theory is that the Olympics and other similar events are virtually always used as propaganda tools by host governments, as happened with Nazi Germany in 1936, the USSR in 1980, and Vladimir Putin's regime in 2014 [when Russia hosted the Winter Olympics]. For this reason, it is nearly impossible to make them genuinely politically neutral. The only realistic options are either to allow repressive regimes to use the Games to burnish their public image, keep them from hosting in the first place, or forestall their propaganda by means of a boycott that undercuts the Games' public relations benefits for the hosts.

In addition, the sports events themselves are often run in ways that directly perpetrate grave injustices, such as forcible displacement of large numbers of people in order to make way for sports stadiums and related facilities:

The Olympics are a great sports event. But they also cause great harm. Host cities routinely lose enormous amounts of money on the games, and end up with decaying stadiums that have little or no value. Even worse, governments often forcibly displace large numbers of people from their homes and businesses in order to make room for Olympic venues. Over 1 million people lost their homes for the 2008 Beijing games alone. Brazil… similarly evicted large numbers of people for the… Rio Olympics, and even more to build stadiums for the 2014 World Cup. Most of those evicted are the poor and people lacking in political power.

Boycotting sports events where such practices occur can help deter their recurrence in the future. Denying propaganda opportunities to oppressive regimes and tarnishing their image can incentivize reforms. At the very least, boycotts in such cases can deny revenue and PR opportunities to the perpetrators of grave wrongs.

Things are more complicated in a case like the NBA players' brief boycott of the last two days. Racial profiling and abusive police practices more generally are serious injustices (I have tried to highlight the need to curb racial profiling for years, now), and the players' desire to combat them is laudable. We should also not forget that, in a league where most of the players are black men, it is highly likely that many of them and their families have experienced racial profiling and other abusive police behavior directly, as have a substantial majority of African-American males.

Still, it's hard to argue that the targets of the boycott—NBA owners and fans—are the ones responsible for the injustice, in the ways that, say, the Russian and Chinese governments are responsible for the injustices their regimes perpetrate. It is even harder to argue that NBA games directly cause police brutality and racial profiling, in the way that forcible displacement of people to make way for stadiums is directly caused by current arrangements for hosting the Olympics and the World Cup.

The theory behind the boycott is that it might pressure NBA owners  into lobbying for reform. But it is by no means clear that the owners have the influence to make any significant difference on the issue. Few people even know the names of the owners, much less look to them for guidance on moral and political issues. The owners are, of course, wealthy people who might contribute to reform causes. But it's far from clear they will contribute much more money as a result of a boycott, or that their contributions will make a significant difference, either.

In addition, if it is right to use boycotts to pressure owners (and perhaps others) into supporting one just cause, why not others? Sadly, US police abuses are far from the only significant injustice in the world today, or even the most serious ones. There are arguably even worse injustices in US immigration policy, for example. If players boycott games until owners address every serious injustice in the world, we will probably never have any professional sports competitions for a long time to come!

It might still be reasonable to use boycotts to pressure third parties into action if doing so has a high likelihood of success and is likely to do a lot more good than harm. But, at the very least, boycotts targeting third parties should only be undertaken if there is strong evidence that such success is likely and that a boycott is more likely to succeed than other types of measures. That is especially true when those boycotting are players who have a contractual obligation to participate in games, as opposed to fans and others who have no such duty.

Here, NBA players and other professional athletes do in fact have a range of alternative options that are likely to be at least equally effective. They can use their high public profile to speak out against and condemn police abuses (as many have already done). They can also contribute money (and urge others to do so) to organizations that promote much-needed reforms such as ending the War on Drugs, eliminating qualified immunity, combating racial profiling, and banning asset forfeitures. All of these reforms would both help curb law-enforcement abuses generally, and be of special benefit to minority communities (which disproportionately suffer from those abuses). Moreover, less confrontatioal strategies are less likely than boycotts to generate a counterproductive public backlash. In view of these alternatives, NBA players have done the right thing in ending the short-lived boycott, and instead pursuing their cause by other means.

That said, there may be issues over which boycotts of US sports leagues by players might have stronger justification. In some instances, the NBA and other major US sports leagues really are perpetrators of injustice, not just bystanders. The most common example is the egregious use of public funds to subsidize sports stadiums.  Studies by economists across the political spectrum consistently show that government subsidies for sports stadiums hurt local economies more than they benefit them. These subsidies routinely fleece the general public for the benefit of billionaire owners and millionaire players, while also damaging local economies. In some cases, cities compound the injustice by using eminent domain to forcibly displace residents and businesses in order to build stadiums.

If players were to boycott the NBA, NFL, and other major sports leagues until the owners agreed to abjure public subsidies for stadiums and the use of eminent domain to seize land for them, the players could very likely achieve that goal in short order! Unlike in the case of police abuses, the owners are key players in perpetrating these injustices, and they could easily end them if they wanted to.

In the case of the NBA, there is also its complicity in running basketball schools in China under the sponsorship of the oppressive Chinese government, where many young players have suffered severe abuse. This practice, too, could be ended if the players were willing to boycott until owners agreed to accept that demand.

I do not claim that the players are hypocritical or morally culpable for largely ignoring these issues where their leagues are morally complicit, and instead focusing on racist police brutality. Many may not even know much about stadium subsidies and the Chinese basketball program, whereas—for understandable reasons—they are well aware of police abuses and racial profiling.

To the extent the players are blameworthy here, the same can be said of fans—myself included—who continue to patronize these leagues. That may be especially true of those—again including myself—who are aware of the stadium subsidies, yet continue to watch games anyway (as I certainly do).

That said, both players and others would do well to focus their sports boycotts on those cases where event organizers are themselves culpable in perpetrating injustice, and especially those where the event itself is part of the cause. We cannot completely exclude the possibility that boycotts can be justified in some other cases. But they are likely to be less common, and require a higher burden of proof to justify the use of boycotts instead of less disruptive tactics.

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  1. Well, call me old school, but this looks like a strike, not a boycott.
    A boycott would be when the fans quit paying any attention to what a spoiled bunch of Communist loving millionaires (figure that one out!) who ignore their contracts for political purposes while also canceling people who stand up against the injustice of actual slavery in Communist China.
    I can’t call for a boycott of the NBA because I never watched them anyway. But if I find out the names of companies who advertise during NBA games, I will avoid them as much as possible. (Looking at you, Mickey)

    1. it’s a good thing that words don’t have multiple meanings or things might get confusing!
      boycott (verb) – refuse to cooperate with or participate in (a policy or event)

      1. Refusal of workers to perform services is a strike. Refusal to give money to a third party is a boycott.

        Boycott sounds like they are refusing to ride buses in Montgomery but the riders didn’t work for the city, they were customers. Players strike, fans boycott.

    2. At least you wear your bigotry openly and proudly, Longtobefree . . . unlike many conservatives, who try to hide their racism, gay-bashing, and the like behind euphemisms.

      1. Do you have a trainload of race cards to play? Got ANYTHING else?

      2. Are my English reading skills failing? I didn’t see a single wording in there about the race of the NBA refuseniks, just complaints about their ideology and support of totalitarian regimes.

        I suppose it’s dog whistle time again? Yep, you’re the only dog here.

    3. Get woke, go broke. I’m sure the agents for all those playas notified them that their paychecks were about to get “”boycotted” and the “boycott” ended after a day. Too bad for them. I’ll “take a knee” and watch NASCAR or Fox news before I watch NBA, NFL, NHL or “baseball”. Hope they like the pay cut.

  2. Who the hell cares?

    Spoiled idiot multimillionaires who are slapping their fans in the face. I wonder how much they will bitch when the league goes out of business and they can no longer be paid.

    1. Yes, I’m sure the bankruptcy of professional sports is just around the corner.

      1. And college sports is about to go professional.

      2. Hmm, NBA is heavily subsidized by cable TV contracts, which are hurting due to cord cutting. Much lower ratings certainly won’t do much to help that issue, nor will the concern of players just stopping play whenever a political event upsets them. Their network broadcasts have terrible numbers and are unlikely to have much of a bidding war for them.

    2. Absolutely right, Darth Chocolate.

    3. You should be more worried about what happens when successful, modern cities and suburbs decide to stop subsidizing our can’t-keep-up communities. Bright flight has been devastating for our desolate backwaters, but the consequence of loss of empathy (and cash) from accomplished taxpayers likely will be worse.

      1. That is what the endgame of your policies leads to.

        Hope you’re happy.

        LOLGF

        1. Rarely worth engaging with the good Rev. unless you’re in a bad mood. Chess with a retarded pigeon.

    4. Those players earned those multimillions. It is interesting that the players are spoiled and rich, yet when we talk taxes then we are at war with the rich. Could you clarify, which rich are good and which rich are bad.

      1. The racist ones are bad, let’s start with that.

      2. Obviously, Darth Chocolate prefers wealthy people who have earned their money the old fashioned way: being born to privilege.

        Hard work and talent? That’s for spoiled brats.

  3. I’m agnostic on the question of whether the sports boycotts are a good thing or not. I would like to know, from those who oppose them, what would you propose to end police brutality against minorities?

    We are only a few months removed from the Floyd killing that set the country on fire (and some fires from that have not yet burned themselves out), and some idiot cop in Kenosha just shot an unarmed black man in the back as he was getting into his car and while his kids were watching. If you’re a police officer and you are going to shoot an unarmed black man in the back as he’s getting into his car, this would seem a particularly bad time to do it. Yet the police seem completely oblivious and impervious to any kind of reform.

    Peaceful protests have not worked. Lawsuits have not worked (thanks in part to qualified immunity). Electing reformers has not worked. Riots have not worked. At this point, nothing seems to be working to end police violence.

    So, maybe boycotts will work and maybe they won’t, but what will? What will it finally take to stop police violence?

    1. Oh no those things are working. Just not achieving the ends to which you are wishing they would. But please if you think those are effective tactics just keep ’em up.

    2. I mean, what does “end police violence” mean? That no cop ever does something wrong? It’s a big country. The number of shootings of unarmed people is pretty damn low, but is never going to be zero, and every one is going to be on Twitter. Are we just supposed to accept that every time something happens, there’s going to be rioting? Because that’s a pretty bleak future.

      1. Larvell, I don’t think the problem is that there’s an occasional bad police shooting. You’re right that that will always be the case.

        The problem isn’t even that the police seem to think they can brutalize people at will, especially minorities, and get away with it. The problem is that the police who think that way are mostly right.

      2. Only during an election year. We largely ignore these instances of police brutality and racial injustice during non-election years. See the dozens of cases similar to this one that occurred during the Obama Administration. There was no riots (except a small one in Ferguson). That this is a “Trump is a racist…see?” issue just convinces me this is a Democratic Party construct, not meant to receive justice, but to get Democrats elected. They love to make people “say her name” (Breonna Taylor), but I still have not heard a single one of these racist athletes “say their name” (Rhogena Nichols/Dennis Tuttle), the white couple who were murdered by police during an illegal no-knock raid last year in Houston.

    3. “unarmed black man ”

      A knife is an “arm”.

      Unlike Floyd, the shooting looks fully justified. Dude refuses to be arrested, gets tazed, keeps walking, ignores commands, reaches in to car where knife is found. Black, white or purple, he is getting shot.

      A cop doesn’t have to wait until the knife is plunged into his body to use deadly force.

      “What will it finally take to stop police violence?”

      Criminals like Burke stopping committing crimes?

      FYI, so long as police have guns, you will never “end” it.

      1. Well then maybe we should do like the Brits do and disarm the local police. I would not seriously support that, but a big part of the problem has been the militarization of the police.

        And no, it’s not necessary to shoot him seven times in the back, even if he tells you he’s going for a knife. There were four police officers there, which would have been more than enough to prevent his entry into the vehicle without using near deadly force.

        1. Yeah; nothing he did put the cop in danger.

          Also, ‘reaches in to car where knife is found’ is doing a LOT of work.

          Noncompliance is not a death sentence.

          1. No – not noncompliance. But grabbing for a deadly weapon.

            If you read the self defense statutes from different states, one of the things that is common among them is that the rules for self defense are different when cops are involved. Normally, when someone threatens you with imminent death or great bodily injury by, for example, threatening you with a deadly weapon, you can respond, in self defense, and use deadly force against them. That doesn’t apply though for the police. They can threaten to use deadly force against you, and if you respond with deadly force, or even a credible threat of such, they can legally use deadly force against you in self defense.

            It has to be this way. The alternative is that they would never be able to threaten to use deadly force, whether to make an arrest, or to protect someone else from a threat of deadly, or even non-deadly, force.

            1. There is no evidence he grabbed for anything.

              1. Look, he was being arrested on a felony warrant, and instead of going peacefully, he got into a fist fight with the cops, then stormed off to the car, where, yes, there was a knife.

                Yes, in theory he could have just meant to drive away, not that that would have been legal either. But from the time he slugged the cops and ignored orders to stop, he lost the presumption of peaceful intent.

                1. None of what you describe means it’s time for lethal force.

                  And your ‘he grabbed a knife’ confabulation shows you really want there to be, for some reason.

          2. “nothing he did put the cop in danger”

            Nothing you won’t spin away.

            Cops have been dragged to death before or hit by cars. He got into his car so they were at risk.

            There was a knife, a deadly weapon, in the car. Maybe he grabbed it, maybe not, but it was available and the cop did not have to wait to respond.

            1. Cops have probably been beaten to death by shoes sometime in history. Time to start shooting all the shoed suspects?

              Your risk mix is ridiculous. But I guess that’s because police shooting people isn’t much of a price to you.

              1. More blacks are shot each year in each of a dozen US cities than blacks are shot by police in the whole US, most of which are 100% justified by any standard.

                By the way, he had the knife in his hand before getting into the car. There is a picture now available.

                1. State sanctioned murders in which the murderer is not even arrested are different than murders where the murderer is charged and goes to jail.

                  1. Dead is dead.

      2. Bob, after the fight, he walks slowly around the car. The police were in melee range, guns drawn. He reached into the car and was shot. I haven’t seen it with audio, but it seems clear to me that they should not have had their guns drawn. If they thought he was a threat, they should not have let him reach into the car. They were in close melee range. He wasn’t running, and he wasn’t, at that moment, armed. Given his body language, I don’t think that he was reaching for a weapon. He was moving too slowly for that.

        They shouldn’t have shot him. If they thought he was still a threat and going for a weapon, they should have used lesser force to stop him from reaching into the car. They had plenty of time.

        1. Lots of tactical experts here.

        2. The police had already tried to tase him, with no results.

      3. Floyd – the fentanyl OD? Showing symptoms of that OD when the police first approached him? That Floyd?

        1. Bruce, if he was ODing, the police were even less justified in kneeing him for nine minutes. If he was ODing, that increases the risk that kneeing him would kill him.

      4. A knife is an “arm”.

        Did he have a knife?

        Unlike Floyd, the shooting looks fully justified. Dude refuses to be arrested,

        Arrested for what?

        A cop doesn’t have to wait until the knife is plunged into his body to use deadly force.

        A cop has to wait until he sees a knife in someone’s hand and that person is within stabbing distance to use deadly force. That you and cops don’t understand this is the problem.

        1. Yes, in fact he had the knife in his hand before getting into the car. There is a picture now available.

    4. How about something you mentioned but not in the context of not working… Qualified Immunity. Get rid of it. Hasn’t happened and is the single biggest shield against negative reinforcement for cops. There is a large number of Americans who support ending it. Which then means the problem is a) judges creating perverse readings of law and political philosophy and b) shitty members of Congress who refuse to deal with it. The issue isn’t a light switch that has just one move to be made… it is a Rube Goldberg machine of shitty decisions. Gonna take time. In the meantime… to maintain momentum people can not always go from 0 to 100 every time something bad happens and start burning the livelihoods of innocent people. How about stop being an asshole in the name of a just cause? Because it means you are still an asshole no matter your cause. And when you attempt to actually impose that assholery onto an innocent person you are going to increase the chances they go from supporting you to defending their life with deadly force.

    5. You start with a false premise: that there is a need to end police brutality against minorities. Discrete instances of even proven police misconduct do not demonstrate anything more than random unfortunate instances. All of the readily available facts and statistics show that the BLM movement is founded upon a lie, the lie that the police in this country are systemically (whatever that means) racist. And it wasn’t the Floyd killing that set the country on fire. It was anarchists, arsonists, and lawless thugs that set not the country, but certain democrat-run cities, where the police are not permitted to control the lawlessness, on fire. And we don’t yet know the full facts surrounding the Kenosha shooting.

      1. 1) Your stats are disputed.There are studies going both ways; do’t cherry pick.

        2) The reforms BLM are asking for would apply to all races.

        3) These were pretty big protests. Do you really think there are that many ‘anarchists, arsonists, and lawless thugs?’ or maybe you’re just working to delegitimize people you disagree with.

    6. How about just fucking accepting that you can not always have what you want?

      1. When what you want is maybe less police killing people, saying ‘sometimes you can’t have what you want’ is kinda horrifying.

        1. If I have to accept that I can not have what I want, so should everyone else!

    7. We haven’t really had elections to get reformers yet. Politics and law is slow, but I do think ending qualified immunity and other legislative reforms can help. Police must be accountable for misconduct. If they are above the law, they won’t respect the law. They are human (and, unfortunately, many are drawn to the profession because of the power it gives them to bully).

      If Dems win both houses of Congress and the Presidency in a wave and don’t make serious sustained effort at reform, then I think those of us who care about police brutality, systemic racism, etc., definitely have to begin considering different options. And must punish them at the polls, just as Republicans must be punished this year for their misdeeds.

      But I also agree, police violence is a very difficult thing to fix, including because of entrenched culture both in the police department and in the United States as a whole. So, yeah, I am happy they made a statement with the boycott. I do think this is a case, because the privileged and powerful have relatively little incentive beyond their moral sense to care about how poor and minorities and especially poor minorities are abused by the police. Creating some economic incentives and drawing further attention to the problem seems a decent try to help. (I am glad they are back playing too, probably less backlash, I like basketball, and money is power and they need to keep making money so they can make more of a difference.)

  4. The Left would like us to believe:

    When it comes to the environment and climate we should LISTEN TO THE SCIENTIFIC EXPERTS.

    When it comes to the pandemic we should LISTEN TO THE PUBLIC HEALTH EXPERTS.

    When it comes to issue of law enforcement we should LISTEN TO SPORTS STARS AND CELEBRITIES.

    Obviously Le Bron James knows more about how police should react to a situation of a violent man with a knife more so then experts in law enforcement, duh.

    1. Really? The Right elected a fucking TV reality star to be president you moron.

      1. Or one could think I highly successful business man who has a giant building in New York City named after him. But, sure, I guess he was also a reality TV star for a few years.

        1. Really? Please explain how do you figure Trump as a “highly successful business man.” He received over 400 million in today’s dollars from his rich daddy in the form of cash transfers or inheritance. The result was a string of continuous bankruptcies, failed businesses, embarrassing failures, and petty cons.

          If your “highly successful businessman” just took all the cash spoon-fed him down to the corner office of Charles Schwab, he’d almost certainly been more successful still (and without all the economic wreckage left in his wake).

          Now a highly successful huckster & scam artist? I’ll concede you that

          1. Yawn. Get new material.

            1. Right after you get new facts, Bob.

              Of course having ANY facts would be a big improvement for you….

              1. Yawn again. Please stop, I have work to do, cannot sleep.

          2. I think you are jealous of his hot wife and big buildings.

            1. His wife is a cosmetic surgery mannequin who won’t sleep with him and is past her dump-by date. If LeBron snapped his finger she’d run to him, disrobing along the way.

              1. This is a pretty misogynist comment.

                1. Misogynism aside, the comment isn’t without its valid points. All of which leads to my response to your comment above : If my daddy had left me 400 million I’d have a better hot wife and much more impressive buildings. The latter is a certainty, since I’m an architect and Trump has truly execrable taste.

                  (In fact, I’m already rubbing my hands in glee anticipating the tacky monstrosity of the Trump Presidential Library. The mere entertainment value in that alone is worth prying his tubby butt out of the Oval Office asap – completely setting aside the fact he’s a calamitous dumpster-fire as president)

                  And the same would hold true with women as well. It’s not Melinda’s fault; Trump cheapens, coarsens & sullies pretty much everything he touches, this country’s proud democratic traditions in particular.

                  Bottom line? Minus daddy’s millions, Donald Trump would be running a three-card monte on some street corner. Probably the local bunco squad wouldn’t even bother with him; he’d be that small-time….

                  1. Tastes differ. I married a short dark filipina, Trump’s wife doesn’t particularly appeal to me, but I wouldn’t say she’s hard on the eyes.

                    Yeah, Trump got a few hundred million from Dad. Why did he get it? Because he’d been running Dad’s business for him for years.

                    And what happens with most people who see a several hundred million windfall? They end up billionaires? No, they spend it down.

                    I realize there’s an argument that he could have invested the money in a market fund and ended up in the same place. Sure, if he’d left it alone, and paid all his expenses from some other source.

                    Instead, he somehow ended up a billionaire while living a lavish lifestyle. You don’t do that by putting $400M into a mutual fund. You do that by being a canny businessman.

                    I have to admit, I’ve never quite understood the urge to trash talk, and especially the urge to trash talk winners. Whatever say Trump is, THAT is what beat you guys in 2016, and stands a good chance of beating you this fall. Why would you want people to think a drooling idiot was able to beat you?

                    1. Brett,

                      1. Fred Trump made little Donnie a millionaire by the time he was eight, through trusts and partnerships alone. When the kid turned seventeen, daddy gave him part ownership of a 52-unit apartment building. When he graduated from the U of Penn soon after, Trump was already receiving the equivalent of $1 million a year from his father.

                      All of which is fine. I don’t begrudge Fred’s right to dispose of his fortune as he saw fit. But let’s not kid ourselves with a lot of made-up nonsense : The silver spoon sticking out of Trump’s mouth did NOT come via elbow grease put into the family business.

                      2. I’m also not jealous of DJT’s inherited fortune (or anyone else’s). But when someone claims Trump is a “highly successful business man.” it’s relevant to point out he inherited his money, and then left a continuous trail of bankruptcies, bungled business deals, incompetent investments, stiffed creditors, and embarrassing failures.

                      The judgement Trump would have made more money as a passive investor is a commonplace, found in accounts written by Fortune or Forbes magazines. The AP estimated if Trump had invested in an index fund in 1988, his net worth would be as much as $13 billion, 300% greater than his current worth. Again, this is fine. If Trump wants to blow his daddy’s millions running casinos into the ground, buying jokey airlines, and creating useless vanity businesses, that’s his call. But he is not a “highly successful business man.”

                      You want the know the last word on Trump as businessman? Look to Adam Smith, the invisible hand, and the judgement of the marketplace. Trump can’t get major loans from commercial bankers. He’s forced to get lending from Deutsche Bank’s high-end domestic loan side. Most bankers consider Trump a poor risk. They think he’s a clown just like everyone else.

                    2. Deutsche Bank isn’t a commercial lender?

                    3. I think “lender” implies a certain minimum skill at making sure you ever see your money again…

          3. Remember how NYC was a total shithole in the 1970’s and got rebuilt in the 80’s and 90’s.

            The current President was a driving force in that.

            1. If you believe that, I have a bridge you might like to buy.

    2. Well, LeBron James certainly knows more about racism than you do, having been on the receiving end of it his entire life.

      1. He has been feted and pampered and praised since he was 8.

        1. The fact that you don’t think those things can both be true is exactly why this strike is useful.

          1. Former NFL wide receiver Brandon Marshall @BMarshall posts video of security guard calling cops on him and his kids as they move into their new home in Weston.

            made over $80,000,000 in the NFL. Not immune to racism.

            1. These guys try to hide their racism but it doesn’t work.

              Where “these guys” = conservatives.

            2. Not every time a black person has the cops called on them is it a product of “racism.”

      2. Yeah “racism” really kept down that black man with his millions of dollars and multiple homes…

      3. Any examples? I know he claimed somebody spraypainted something on his gate, but his crew cleaned it up super fast before a single cop could see it for any kind of investigation. And none of his security cameras apparently caught anything either.

        He should just go to China and let his masters have their product up close and personal.

    3. Obsolete, bigoted Republicans should learn to spell James’ name before mentioning it.

      These are your peeps, Conspirators. This is part of the reason good law schools will spend more time apologizing for conservative professors than they will trying to hire them.

      1. Wow “peeps”. Really trying to be down with the hip new lingo these hep cats are indulging themselves in today, huh?

    4. Obviously Le Bron James knows more about how police should react to a situation of a violent man with a knife more so then experts in law enforcement, duh.

      There was no “violent man with a knife,” but setting that aside, you’re confused. This is a question of law and morality, not tactics, and police are not experts at either of the first two.

      1. Burke in fact had a knife in his hand before getting into the car. There is a picture.

        Its not a cell phone or his keys either. [Just anticipating your mewing.]

        1. Police have said that they found a knife in the car, not in his hand. I have seen no clear picture of what he was holding in his hand. I have seen blurry pictures and some people trying to claim it was a karambit. That seems rather implausible, given that I have not heard any cop claiming to have been stabbed or slashed, even though he was supposedly “fighting with” them. Looks to me more like sunglasses.

          Also, none of them shot him when he was right next to them, which would have seemed a bit more logical if he were a “violent man with a knife” who was fighting with him, as opposed to shooting him in the back after he walked away.

  5. I’m just glad that they’re accelerating the demise of professional sports. Adults being paid fortunes to play children’s games, and then expecting people to care about their opinions, on top of it?

    I’ve never been so happy to see a whole industry self-destruct.

    1. Back in the day when it was more or less amateurs that got paid a little bit of a premium to play those games they were entertaining. Now these things have been so optimized and analyzed that it comes down to just really numbers and data. The players are matched up based upon algorithms and told what to do based upon different scenarios that have been gamed by AI. It is boring to watch this play out.

      1. What you’re describing is American Football, which is basically ballet for big black dudes. But I’m not so sure that it also describes most other sports very well.

        1. Baseball is largely a numbers game these days. Pitchers break down batters using slow motion and have choreographed pitches designed for each player.

          1. O, right, forgot about that one.

        2. LOL, “ballet”!

          Stick to cheering men running aimslessly around a field.

          1. You say “aimless”, I say “not having their every move dictated by the coach on the sidelines”. I guess to each his own.

      2. “It is boring to watch this play out.”

        At least “real America” still has NASCAR, rattlesnake-juggling, and squirrel-shooting for sport.

        1. NASCAR actually requires some skill.

  6. If the players had well-thought-out policy proposals that would make things better, not worse, that would be one thing. But their “boycott” is more like a tantrum, and to the extent they have any policy proposals, they are juvenile and counterproductive (“defund the police”). And to the extent they are trying to get across a “message,” the message is something along the lines of “police are racist, like white people in general, so keep up the rioting.” With a whiff of “if you disagree, you’re a racist, so you better say the words we tell you to say.” So it’s perhaps unsurprising that lots of people don’t really feel like being lectured to by a bunch of rich athletes.

    1. Well, let’s just say that it’s unsurprising that racists don’t really feel like being lectured to by a bunch of rich black people.

      1. Well, you’re certainly free to say it, but you’re apparently an idiot, so don’t expect us to join you.

      2. Actually, I don’t think anyone likes being lectured to by anyone who is demanding action, but who have no specific actions in mind.

      3. I’m not big on a bunch of barely high school educated millionaires discussing their ideas for improving things, no.

  7. Professor Somin….why isn’t this called insubordination, and the boycotting players dismissed? Would that be legal?

    1. I think the word you’re looking for is breach of contract. And I’m sure the NBA’s owners would make a lot more money if they fired all their players.

      1. They’d make more money firing all of the stars and hiring new players than the players would without the league.

        I also love the WNBA protesting. I bet their fan is hella pissed.

        1. I have a co-worker, who is a HUGE Fan. Yes, she’s pissed! She probably spent $10,000 all together for Season Tickets, Jerseys, Hats and more. Then they f’ed it up with Political Crap.

  8. Like others have said, this is not a boycott, this is a strike.

    If I was trying to come up with a way to force the issue of police brutality (or racism more generally) short of setting the country on fire, a general strike seems like the obvious solution. If all African Americans go on strike for even a day, that would clarify a lot of people’s thinking right quick. (Of course, the impact would be felt more around the black people who wipe white people’s backsides than around the professional athletes, but part of the point is the solidarity and large-numbers of it all.)

    I know that many people can’t afford to go on strike, but the same was true 100-150 years ago, and massive strikes still happened all the time. Why did that go out of style?

    As for the original question, I don’t see why a strike like that would be morally wrong. (And I’m frankly surprised to see the question even being raised.) In my experience, people tend to think striking is wrong only when they disagree with the reason for the strike. Turning on Fox News right about now should offer a case in point.

    1. General strikes are for effete europeans, they have never worked in the US.

        1. “never” as usual is too strong a word to describe things

          Seldom works. See Great Railway Strike of 1877 for an example.

  9. “Things are more complicated in a case like the NBA players’ brief boycott of the last two days.”

    Not so much for decent people on the right side of history.

  10. When Kaepernick began his protest, I remarked to an acquaintance that I thought it was not an effective way to advance his cause. Then as now I thought it would be far more effective for high profile sports figures to attempt to bridge the communications gap between the police and the black community. 95% of the US did not watch the NBA finals last year, so I expect this action will be about as effective as was the Kaepernick action.

    1. 99% of America doesn’t watch Fox News. Watching clingers yap about the NBA’s popularity is hilarious.

      1. The gadfly retorts with an assertion that uses the term yap. Hilarious

      2. FNC has more viewers than the NBA.

  11. Nobody thought this out. Now the only live event is the last night of the Republican infomercial, which will have fireworks at the end.

    Morons, the lot of them.

    1. They’re morons.

      You’re a bigot destined to get stomped with every other right-winger in the culture war.

      Everybody has problems.

      1. Some nitwits in Kenosha were gunned down.

        Who is winning the culture war, again?

        1. The people who aren’t cheering on a murderer.

          There’s a reason right-wing violence has been on an uptick over the last four years, even as Republicans control so much of the government.

          1. I’ll mention the Left is currently lionizing pedophiles in WI who were killed trying to assault a youth.

            1. You need to deal in facts, not whatever this is.

              1. Joseph Rosenbaum was convicted for a sex crime involving a minor.

                Anthony Huber has been convicted of battery and has had multiple charges of domestic abuse.

                Their deaths are a net positive for the world. And the kid who shot them is being railroaded and will, undoubtedly, be acquitted of the laughable charges against him.

                1. None of them deserve to die, you victim-blaming ghoul.

                  1. Deserves got nothing to do with it.

                  2. Shouldn’t be chasing after somebody after shots were fired. They earned their fate. Don’t be idiots next time.

                    The only victim is the kid who is being charged right now.

  12. Also maybe we shouldn’t point toward professional athletes as are so called moral barometer when:

    The NFL is packed full of criminals, mostly of the violent variety.

    NBA stars seem to have a propensity to get accused of rape pretty often.

    Baseball players can’t seem to resist doing drugs…all the drugs…

    But I guess hockey players are pretty legit these days. Can’t find much online about their antics. Maybe they just keep it all on the ice since they are still allowed to fight there…

    1. NHL is the one true sport left. It is rare one of them steps out of line. And if they do they are called out for it by the league, their coaching/management groups, their teammates, and other players generally. But it does happen from time to time. And sadly there is still remnants of racism in the game despite some of its roots being in an all-black league in Canada over 100 years ago.

      Ryan Reeves (decendant of the black sherrif in Tulsa as seen as the movie hero from the Watchmen series on HBO) stated today that he, and the players generally, understood the ineffectiveness of canceling the games. However, they also know that they are limited in what they can do at this time being in the bubble. This wasn’t, at least as I understand it for the NHL, and attempt to pressure the league into policy positions but rather a way to draw more attention to the issue. Given that another man was shot by cops even after the Floyd incident shows the slow (or lack of) response by LEOs to what is going on. Even if the shooting in Wisconsin could be justified… it could also have been avoided. That is something many seem to miss. Many seem to think that any shooting that can be justified is therefore fully just and acceptable. But that isn’t the case. Many times a shooting may be justified but also not the best response. Sometimes it is… and maybe it was in Wisconsin. But it doesn’t HAVE to be is the issue. I am still fully against critical race theory and BLM… but I also don’t like seeing the state kill people if it could be avoided.

    2. It’s amazing how racists think the leagues with minorities are bad and the one with overwhelmingly white athletes is good. It’s shocking that you don’t post under your real name.

  13. I’m just guessing, but my guess is that not many pro athletes, owners, or others involved in pro athletics are being motivated by these sorts of very rational and objective arguments, Prof. Somin.

    Emotion, including a spectacular quantity over overweening egoism, seems to be more what’s driving this bandwagon. I think it’s headed for a deep, deep ditch.

    1. You figure this social justice stuff will make it tough for pro sports franchises to sell $400 tickets and $250 jerseys in Can’t-Keep-Up, Idaho, Jesusland, Mississippi, and Evendumber, South Carolina?

  14. When the NBA is so popular in China, it’s a shame the league doesn’t take a stand against the human rights abuses of the Chinese government. It’s pretty clear they care about some of their fans more than others.

    1. American athletes care about America. Or at least, America First.

      1. If the NBA owners said for one second “fine if you don’t want to play the game we are not going to pay you…” the boycott would end in 2.5 seconds.

        1. Allegedly, reports that their pay would be hurt did end the boycott.

      2. Which also undermines their claim to care about human rights. They care about some people’s rights. Everyone else can get bent. That is their actual position.

      3. They play some games in China, NBA gets money from China, the shoes they hawk are made in China.

        James and Kerr and others actively attacked the Houston GM when he made a mild comment about Hong Kong.

        China strikes back, they get applauded for stunts like this 2 day strike.

      4. American athletes care about America. Or at least, America First.

        That would be fine to justify failure to speak out on injustices unrelated to the NBA, such as caste discrimination in India. In the case of China, however, they are intentionally discouraging criticism of injustices perpetrated by the Chinese government solely in order to avoid reduction in their income. They are actively obstructing the effort to shine a light on the problems and call China to account.

        “This moment demands moral leadership.” Biden tweeted about the NBA community. “And these players answered by standing up, speaking out, and using their platform for good.”

        1. What is Trump doing about China? Does that mean he’s immoral?

          1. Trump signed the Hong Kong Sanctions Bill and the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020. What do you expect him to do?

            1. So nothing that’s going to solve the issue. Certainly not spotlighting the genocide.

              And yet the NBA players are the ones you hold responsible.

              1. Trump isn’t benefiting from China, NBA players are.

                What pray tell can Trump do that is ” going to solve the issue”?

                Suprise nuke attack on Peking?

  15. Nearly 60 years ago, Bill Russell refused to play an NBA exhibition game as a demonstration against a Kentucky hotel coffee shop’s refusal to serve him. His Black teammates on the Boston Celtics followed suit, as did Black players for their opponent, the St. Louis Hawks. I couldn’t care less whether you call it a strike or a boycott, or whether you think Russell was “right” or “wrong.”

  16. But the whole episode still raises the more general issue of when and if sports boycotts are justified.

    No it doesn’t, and having not finished reading the article, I’m gonna guess you’re going to come down largely against them. Let’s see if I’m right, eh?

    1. Shock upon shock, I was right.

      Let’s highlight some particular bits of your idiocy.

      In addition, if it is right to use boycotts to pressure owners (and perhaps others) into supporting one just cause, why not others?

      Yeah, why not? In case you forgot, the players are people. If they can convince each other that they should boycott for some cause, then that’s their moral and ethical right. Maybe it’ll work. Maybe it won’t. But the decision to do so is there’s. And that dove-tails into the answer to your idiotic “slippery slope” argument… what stops them from being used to address every wrong ever is the player’s willingness to risk harm (financial, reputation, etc.) over the issue.

      Oh, and then there’s this gem:

      That is especially true when those boycotting are players who have a contractual obligation to participate in games, as opposed to fans and others who have no such duty.

      Hear that? You signed a contract, no free will for you! I bet you’re in favor of unleashing dogs on striking workers too.

      They can use their high public profile to speak out against and condemn police abuses (as many have already done).

      And which nobody noticed until they didn’t come out of the locker room. Gee, maybe it’s not as effective as you wish they thought it was. Or are you really that much of an idiot that you think it’s effective?

      Moreover, less confrontatioal strategies are less likely than boycotts to generate a counterproductive public backlash.

      Like taking a knee, for example?

      That said, both players and others would do well to focus their sports boycotts […]

      Wherever their conscience dictates. You want folks to vote with their feet? That’s what happened.

  17. Get woke. Go broke.

    NBA and NFL are likely facing existential revenue issues. NBA in particular, with few White players and close ties to the Chinese, after them just giving the world their coronavirus, is vulnerable. There is likely very little sympathy for BLM antics by the bulk of their fans. Sure, a lot of leftists in this country are sympathetic, but they mostly aren’t NBA fans. The league has essentially picked BLM violence over civilization, and the ChiComs over the US. Both likely very unpopular with much of their fan base. Their play could have been a much needed distraction during the pandemic shutdown, but this bunch of entitled multimillionaires decided to make it political. My prediction is that many of them won’t be multimillionaires when this is all over.

    The choices this election are fairly stark, esp with the continuing violence in the background. The Democrats in their convention were dark and all in, in the struggle against capitalism and in favor of dreary Marxism. The Republicans were much more optimistic, but also patriotic and lacking patience for that struggle. Billions of dollars squandered through the looting and arson of the BLM triggered rioting, all because one middle aged Black criminal ODed on fentanyl and died while in police custody. Making the choice stark, the cities that have been burned out are Dem controlled, often in Dem controlled states. And that, to a great extent, is because the riots were allowed by them to happen. The NBA has made it hard for their American fans to continue being their fans while being in favor of the country coming together and everyone living together in peace as loyal Americans.

    1. Yes, this is the common right-wing prediction. Who knows. Though I would be surprised if economics brings an end to these sports in any real way, nor become apolitical.

      In short, as in so many arenas the right is angry, and hopes their anger manifests. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. But the fallacy of conservative disgust changing markets has been disproven many times over. Dunno if there’s not enough of you, or not enough of you stick to it, but this is an old song that is true only when other events conspire to make it so.

      Also…*billions* of dollars?

    2. There is likely very little sympathy for BLM antics by the bulk of their fans.

      Not exactly clear what “BLM antics” are, but:

      https://twitter.com/YouGovAmerica/status/1299343090612920322

    3. I assume we’re now also waiting for the imminent demise of Jim Gaffigan’s career?

    4. Get woke. Go broke.

      Which is why, of course, Budweiser went broke in the 80s after it started supporting Pride Parades.

      It’s possible you can point to individual cases where this may be true (though I suspect the majority of such cases there will be larger fundamentals that were at work), but it has never been true in America at the national level. And that is precisely because corporations, as a group, are so conservative. By the time they glom onto an issue, it’s already more profitable for them to do so then to cater to the new minority who share their old view.

  18. There can be little doubt that black men are disproportionately harmed by the NFL, NBA, and to a lesser degree MLB and the NHL, as they continue to perform their circus tricks for a racist, oppressive, white-privileged society. I believe the shortest route to eliminating this disproportionate harm to Negro men would be to make the leagues look like the country they play in. If the sports leagues were limited to 13% of the team being black, 63% being non-hispanic white, and having similar proportional team membership made up of other identifiable demographic groups, right down to having at least one Samoan/Pacific Islander on each NHL hockey team. Would this not help to relieve the special burden that black professional athletes must carry?

  19. I find it interesting that when the player, as noted many are black, wanted to peacefully send a message by kneeling during the NA, they were criticized. Nothing changed and they are pushing back harder. What if instead of listening to the Divider in Chief we had welcomed that silent protest and taken its message to heart, we might be in a better place today and watching some live sports.

    1. What if instead of listening to the Divider in Chief we had welcomed that silent protest and taken its message to heart, we might be in a better place today and watching some live sports.

      Kaepernick’s stated reason for taking a knee was “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” So, one takes a knee to show one’s lack of pride in the U.S. flag. Can’t we have pride in the flag because the country has come so far with respect to racial justice (and other issues), even though we are not quite there yet? You are saying that if more people exhibited a lack of pride in the flag this would be a good thing in that our sports watching would not be disrupted. Is it because you think a country is possible in which injustice of any kind has been eliminated? Are you devoid of patriotism?

      1. “not quite there yet”

        Two black men in the same California county got shot dead by police while sleeping in their cars. (Separate incidents!)

        1. Two black men in the same California county got shot dead by police while sleeping in their cars.

          You mean the police walked up to the car and shot them while they were sleeping? Can you supply a reference to that?

          According to the Washington Post, 14 unarmed black men were shot and killed by police in 2019, and the fact that they were unarmed doesn’t mean that they weren’t fighting with the cop and trying to grab his gun. Furthermore, a study by Roland Fryer found no racial differences in officer-involved shootings. Do these facts suggest that no progress has been made on race relations in this country?

      2. I don’t think that President Trump defines patriotism. I actually find him to be among the least patriot person I have ever seen. He holds the highest office in the land and think of only himself.

    2. I keep forgetting that the ONLY people allowed to make a statement are the players. The fans, of course, must shut up and do what the players want.

      1. I have in my time seen many fans make statements by sitting during the NA. You may think taking a knee or sitting is disrespectful, but it is better than those that get a beer or take a piss during the NA.

        1. Taking a piss is a biological function.

          Taking a knee is pathetic attention whoring, popularized by a subpar QB who had lost his job to another very subpar QB.

  20. In the case of the NBA, there is also its complicity in running basketball schools in China under the sponsorship of the oppressive Chinese government…

    According to Sports Illustrated, “The NBA has terminated its relationship with a Chinese-based basketball academy located in the controversial region of Xinjiang, according to a letter league executives sent to a U.S. senator.”

  21. The NFL and NBA are the most racist organizations in this country. I’m not sure why anyone would listen to anything they have to say on the subject.

  22. One place to start with the wrongs is that the cause is factually wrong. The evidence that blacks are disproportionately killed by police is thin at best. The evidence that individually cases are motivated by racism is to my knowledge non existent.

    The sports world has lost their mind virtue signalling about a problem that doesn’t exist. And the public, misled by the media’s biased coverage (9x more coverage of a black being killed by cops than a white – https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/media-great-racial-awakening) or cowed by the reputational risks that come with questioning this narrative, has acquiesced.

    It’s a pathetic mixture of virtue signaling, race profiteering and cowardice by the sports world, the media, the public and our political leaders. I suspect it has unfortunately led to an increased chance of Trump being re-elected too.

    1. One place to start with the wrongs is that the cause is factually wrong. The evidence that blacks are disproportionately killed by police is thin at best. The evidence that individually cases are motivated by racism is to my knowledge non existent.

      So you’re saying that it’s not that Blacks are killed at higher rates then whites, it’s just that Blacks care about police brutality when whites don’t?

      You do see how that’s worse, right?

      1. Some whites care. Others join BLM protests and lay waste to black communities.

  23. I have previously advocated boycotting Olympics, World Cup tournaments, and other major sports events hosted by oppressive authoritarian regimes

    You can tell that Prof. Somin does not think of athletes as anything other than political pawns in his desire to make points and send messages.

    The 1980 boycott ruined the life of a whole bunch of American amateur athletes.

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