“Shut Up and Dribble”

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A phrase that we’ve heard before that was used to diminish an athlete’s platform. Fox News host Laura Ingraham made this comment on-air in 2018, in regards to LeBron James, as well as Kevin Durant. During an episode of Uninterrupted with two superstars, they spoke of their opinions of our current president, to which Ingraham reacted to on Fox News, “As someone once said, shut up and dribble.” Her comments on the situation were seen as ignorant and racially charged.

“Must they run their mouths like that?”, was Ingraham’s response to Kevin Durant’s allusion to Donald Trump not being a great coach, in reference to his leadership of the country. Now, I am young, and am not very educated in politics. I don’t necessarily associate myself with a party, but what I will say is that this is wrong. What is the problem with sharing your opinion and being an activist with the platform that you’ve earned? LeBron James has created such an influence in sports and pop culture, with his actions on and off the court. Sharing an opinion is a freedom given to us from our first amendment. Everyone has that power as long as they are a citizen of this country.

Laura Ingraham Invites LeBron James to Come on Her Program ...
Screen Capture from Fox News of a demeaning headline from “The Ingraham Angle”

This is Wrong

People can choose whether they side with his opinions or disagree, or just to ignore it. But, calling him out on it, and basically saying, “Since you play dribble a ball for a living, you can’t have an opinion.”, is wrong. It’s just a sheer act of disrespect to someone who has never had anything to do with you. When you work for a major news network, and you make a statement like this, it is not a great look. Her later comments didn’t help her out much either. She had basically said afterwards, that if a white NBA player had made those same comments James had made about president Trump, but in regards to president Barack Obama, that he’d never play again.

Ingraham’s comments contradicted the first amendment. This, to me, shows that the discrimination of African Americans hasn’t changed much since the days of Michael Jordan, in fact, it may have gotten worse. The reason I bring up Michael Jordan is because, when watching The Last Dance, I learned that Jordan was actually criticized for not being an activist, particularly in politics. When Jordan didn’t endorse democratic candidate, Harvey Gantt of North Carolina, he was harshly reprimanded by many Americans. LeBron James has a very similar platform as Jordan did, and now with social media’s dominance, it may be even bigger. Now, people like Laura Ingraham have a problem with this practice of free speech. Quite ironic.

Athletes: Should They Just “Shut Up and Dribble?” – cmns324: Media ...
Quote from LeBron James on the situation, Courtesy of Bleacher Report

My Impact

I am truly writing this article because I feel like it is still very relevant to today’s times a couple years in the future. This one scenario is a bigger representation of what America truly is today. Although we have progressed throughout the years, racial discrimination is still prevalent. Situations like these cannot be forgotten because they need to be conquered. As an 18 year old white male, I recognize that this situation was very mild compared to other racially charged harassments. These things happen daily but don’t fall under the media’s microscope as much as they should. These situations should never happen. Racism is a form of weakness. This weakness can be eliminated in a person so easily, but yet we still have these events to this day.

LeBron James is a huge role model in my life. Growing up a Cavaliers fan and watching him throughout his career played a big part in my childhood. As a man though, is where he is most powerful. James is an inspiration to millions, and I think it is amazing how he uses his platform. He encourages others to do so as well. If you have such a platform, I believe you should use it to shed light on things you think are wrong, which is exactly what James has done.

Being a renowned celebrity comes with responsibilities such as these. People are watching your every move and are in awe of you. But, to criticize one for using their platform that they’ve worked hard to earn, is the problem. This is most definitely a form of discrimination. The comments of Durant and James had nothing to do with Ingraham, but she decided to try and shut them down on a news network with millions of viewers for sharing their opinions.

Activism is Essential

It’s been a while since this event unfolded, but this situation has inspired me to speak out on what I believe is right. Whatever platform you have, use it. Spread the word of what you think is right. Our first amendment allows us this freedom, and it’s vital for everyone to use it in a positive way. So, I’ll continue to speak my mind on what I believe in. These racially charged situations of discrimination need to be ended.

Thank you for reading my piece. This article in my opinion, Tyler Shelt, and mine only. My opinions do not directly reflect Overtime Heroics. Check out our other works here. Follow me on Twitter @TShelt23

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NCAA and NBA Writer for Overtime Heroics