10/20/21 Wrighster or Wrong: Rolovich Reaction, Lamar Jackson Takes, Jeremy Pruitt Extortion, Trump vs Powell

Wrighster or Wrong

On this episode of WRIGHSTER OR WRONG, George Wrighster and Ralph Amsden get into the firing of Nick Rolovich by Washington State University. Is Nick Rolovich a martyr for the anti-vaccine cause, or just another clown in a political circus? Lamar Jackson’s name seems to invite online arguments, George and Ralph liken the discourse to the same talk that surrounds Russell Westbrook, and give their honest assessments of Lamar Jackson as a QB. George and Ralph discuss Jeremy Pruitt’s attempt to extort the University of Tennessee, and applaud the fact that Rick Barnes and Vol Nation aren’t having it. Donald Trump made sure to remind people that he outlasted Colin Powell with one of the pettiest press releases of all time- George and Ralph react. In Cancel or Consequence, George outlines why he believes Illinois coach Bret Bielema was out of bounds for trashing his roster in front of the media, and in Best of Social Media, Ralph talks about his neighboring high school making news for a holding up a sign during a high school football game mocking the other team’s “privilege.”

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Colin Kaepernick Collusion Lawsuit Against the NFL is Over

Colin Kaepernick collusion NFL

Unexpectedly, Colin Kaepernick officially ended his collusion lawsuit against the NFL today. The former NFL quarterback has withdrawn his collusion complaint against the league and will take no further action in his case. Kaepernick had alleged the NFL owners conspired to keep him out after he began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016. The final hearing in his case against the NFL was set to take place this month. So, the timing of this withdrawal is a strong indication that the league reached a significant financial settlement with Kaepernick. People within his circle had previously spoken off the record that he would withdraw his lawsuit if the league compensated him significantly. The terms of the deal are subject to a “confidentiality agreement”.

The NFL and its owners would have been tremendously motivated to make this lawsuit go away if they believed it could be proven Kaepernick had in fact been blackballed. There is a provision within the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the NFL and NFLPA that could have voided the deal if the league was found to have colluded against players. An immediate work stoppage and a legal battle would have ensued that could have put the 2019 season and future of the NFL in jeopardy. This begs the question, how much money did it cost to make Kaepernick go away?

His protest against social justice and racial inequality issues started alone, but many other NFL players and athletes from all sports have picked up the torch. NIKE stated a campaign with Kaepernick as the spokesman.

Will Kaepernick Ever Play Again?

The end of this lawsuit likely marks the end of Kaepernick’s career. If a team was unwilling to sign him to prove he was not colluded against, then why would they sign him after they likely paid him to end the lawsuit? Commissioner Goodell said at the Super Bowl, “I think if a team decides that Colin Kaepernick or any other player can help their team win, that’s what they’ll do,” he added. “They want to win, and they make those decisions individually in the best interest of their club.” 

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Is President Trump destroying the unifying power of sports?

Is President Trump destroying the unifying power of sports? 

This is the critical question after LeBron James touted President Trump for using sports to divide the nation in his recent interview with Don Lemon.  Traditionally, sports have been viewed as one of the few arenas where Americans from all walks of life would set aside their differences and bond over the commonality of their favorite teams and players.  Historically, U. S. Presidents have relished the unifying power of sports and its ability to help the country move forward.  During World War II President Roosevelt gave the proverbial “green light” to Major League Baseball Commissioner Judge Landis to “play ball,” reasoning that Americans deserved to have baseball to distract them from the harsh realities of the war. In 2016 President Obama acknowledged sports for its ability to provide Americans with a more progressive view that enables the country to move forward when he stated that “sports has had this power to bring us together even when the country is divided[i].”

Today the country finds itself at yet another critically divisive stage where race has been one of the focal points.  Sports have been an arena where many have attempted to shed light on social injustices.  One of the most telling examples of sports being used to bring a divided nation together is the integration of Major League Baseball, which helped the nation to see the error of segregation and forced the nation to acknowledge the humanity of all people.

Since the death of Trayvon Martin at the hands of a neighborhood watchman and the death of countless others at the hands of police officers, there has been an insurgence of athlete activism where athletes have used their platforms in an effort to make the country acknowledge the humanity of the lives lost at the hands of law enforcement.  NFL players have kneeled during the national anthem in opposition to police brutality before football games, and NBA players have worn t-shirts reading “I can’t breathe” in remembrance of Eric Garner during pre-game warmups.

These demonstrations have led to heated debates regarding whether athletes should use games as a forum to shed light on social justice issues and if such demonstrations are a distraction that takes away from the game.  These debates have left the nation grossly divided and has allowed President Trump to politicize these issues to gain political capital.  The President has done this by insulting NFL players who kneeled during the national anthem, accusing them of being disrespectful to the American flag and calling for them to be fired during a political rally.  Instead of using football to bring Americans together like it once did in Alexandria, Virginia where the newly integrated T.C. Williams High School football team rallied a segregated community together to cheer the team to victory in the 1971 Virginia State Championship game, the President is instead using football and the national anthem protest controversy to further divide the nation.

The President also used basketball to divide the nation when he refused to invite the 2017 and 2018 NBA Finals Champions to the White House after comments from some of the league’s most prominent athletes stating that they had no interest in visiting the White House.  This sparked a contentious debate on whether it was distasteful for the players to express their opposition to the President’s policies by refusing the honor of visiting the White House.  Instead of seeking to understand why the players felt the way they did and trying to work through any differences to help propel the country forward, President Trump politicized the issue and used it for political gain.

President Trump does not relish the unifying nature of sports and instead seems to thrive on his ability to exploit its divisive issues to support his political agenda.  President Trump does not see sports as a tool to teach the nation about inclusion and acceptance the way Coach Haskins of Texas Western College did when he led an all-black starting five to defeat an all-white University of Kentucky team in the 1966 NCAA Basketball Championship, which forced the nation to acknowledge the athletic ability of all athletes.  President Trump appears to view sports as a tool to perpetuate the division of the nation for his own political capital.  In his apparent views and through his actions President Trump is dismantling the unifying power of sports.

 

[i] President Barack Obama, Address at 2016 World Series Championship Cubs visit the White House (Jan.17, 2017).