Leftist Writer Accidently Makes the Case for Freedom of Association

A recent article published in The Atlantic by Jemele Hill has caused quite a stir. Hill, a former ESPN employee, titled the piece “It’s Time for Black Athletes to Leave White Colleges.” The subheading reads:

“They attract money and attention to the predominantly white universities that showcase them, while HBCUs struggle. What would happen if they collectively decided to go to black schools?”

The core message of the piece is that, since NCAA football players and basketball players are mostly black, they are making significant money for the schools they represent. Yet as a result of NCAA rules, none of these players (regardless of skin color) is allowed to receive any actual payment from the money that they bring in. Since this will continue to be the case, those elite black athletes should choose to attend historically black colleges and universities (often referred to as HBCU’s) to make money for those institutions instead. The article goes on to imagine how great that would be if it happened.

As a libertarian and thus a firm advocate for the freedom to voluntarily associate or disassociate with whomever you wish, I couldn’t help but think of Noam Chomsky when he quipped that:

“If you believe in freedom of speech, you believe in freedom of speech for views you don’t like. Goebbels was in favor of freedom of speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re in favor of freedom of speech, that means you’re in favor of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise.”

Despite many disagreements I have with Chomsky, I believe this message to be absolutely on point. But it isn’t just limited to free speech. Since people clearly have more freedoms than just speech, Chomsky’s standard should be applied to those too. One of these other freedoms, as Hill helps make apparent, is the freedom of association. In a free society, individuals have a right to both associate with those they wish and disassociate (or discriminate) from whomever they desire. There could be many reasons for this voluntary action, but those reasons are irrelevant. If individuals are truly free, then they have the freedom to be with anyone else they want to be with or not.

Hill’s article makes the case that elite black athletes should chose to discriminate against traditionally white schools and instead associate with historically black ones. She acknowledges there may be some disadvantages to doing this such as exposure, size of the school and the facilities available. Yet she continues to make the case for this voluntary association in order to counter a corrupt NCAA system. Some may question the wisdom of going down this path. But nonetheless, individuals have every right to make such decisions whether they are based on race or any other factors.

These opinions expressed by Hill have been met with a significant amount of criticism. But of course, there are other types of personal and private discriminations that occur which draw the ire of society’s gatekeepers of public opinion. Many kinds of this discrimination have become politically incorrect to the point that all debate seems to be shut down if anyone supports them. Yet the right to voluntary association should remain if we want to be a society that respects this right that all people should innately have. So the following are questions I have directed toward Hill in accordance with her new found affection for the individual right to freely associate.

Does Jemele Hill support the right to secession?

The ability of any territory to secede from a nation it does not want to be a part of anymore is a fundamental aspect of free association. Often in the United States, support for secession is met with accusations of racism and claims of supporting slave owners. But secessions have occurred all over the world and usually have no connection to slavery whatsoever. Even in the United States, the first secession our country faced originated in New England and centered around the opposition to President Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase. Clearly racism and slavery do not need to be issues when a voluntary separation occurs within a country. Certainly if black student athletes are able to voluntarily associate with an HBCU over a majority white school, then individuals who reside in a nation that they no longer feel represents their best interests should be able to disassociate from that nation.

Does Jemele Hill support Brexit?

In keeping with the previous question about secession, the decision of the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union is another example of voluntary disassociation. It is clear that many British citizens feel that the time is right to separate from the EU. Whether or not this is a wise decision is not relevant. The point is that if Hill feels that black basketball and football players should “exit” white collegiate institutions, then the UK should absolutely be able to exit the European Union. Perhaps she can call her plan “White Collexit” as a spinoff.

Does Jemele Hill support the right of a Christian baker to refuse to make a gay wedding cake?

If one believes in the freedom of association, then the belief in the right to use your labor as you see fit is a must. Hill certainly understands this since she desires for black athletes who labor under the NCAA to do so for an HBCU. Yet if this principle is to be applied consistently, those who own property and labor while using that property have this right as well. Thus, a baker (for whatever reason, not just a religious one) should be able to exclusively make wedding cakes for straight couples. If elite black ball players have the right to exclusively offer their services to historically black schools, then those who bake wedding cakes should also have the right to offer their services only to the couples that they want to offer them to.

All of this brings us back to that infamous quote from Chomsky. If Hill truly believes in the freedom to associate, then that freedom needs to be applied to more than just those she finds favor in. Hill clearly admires black college athletes and sees them as positive agents of change. But in keeping with the true application of freedom, people need to also support it for those they believe are not being wise or virtuous. Hill may not admire secessionists, Brexiters or discriminatory bakers. But the admiration for any of these aforementioned groups is not the point. The point is that freedom must be applied to them too if we are going to claim that we believe in it. For if we do not believe in the freedom of association of those we despise, we really don’t believe in it at all.

Looking to NFL History to Determine Carli Lloyd’s Chances

A recent video of soccer star Carli Lloyd successfully kicking a 55 yard field goal has many people talking. The video, taken before a preseason game between the Eagles and Ravens, has made its rounds on the internet after “going viral” and has gotten played on many sports talk shows. The result has been that several NFL teams have reportedly contacted Lloyd about the possibility of kicking in the league one day. When asked about it in a recent interview, the USWNT forward said that she is “toying with the idea of potentially going for it.”

Though the viral video of Lloyd’s kick is undeniably impressive, some are skeptical of how a number of details would translate to the kicking that goes on in a game situation. First, during the clip Lloyd is wearing shorts and a t-shirt rather than full pads and a football helmet. Second, there is no defense attempting to block the kick that a game situation would have. Finally, since the entirety of the video is only 20 seconds long, it’s impossible to tell if Lloyd had any misses from any distance either before or after the video was shot.  Taking in these variables creates a much greater unknown when it comes to someone who has never played the sport on any level.

Although no female kickers have made it onto an NFL squad, a number of male soccer players have tried to do what Lloyd might attempt. Several men who have played “the other football” on the highest level have taken a crack at making the roster in the National Football League. Since this is the closest comparison we have to what Lloyd could be trying to do, it’s fair to look back at what happened in the NFL careers of these men to see how successful she might be. It’s also fair to consider that Lloyd is 37 years old and doesn’t plan on trying out as a place kicker until the 2020 NFL season. So her age in relation to these male counterparts should be considered as well.

The clearest American comparison to Lloyd would have to be that of Tony Meola, a goalie for the US Men’s National Team during the 1994 World Cup. The 25 year old Meola was then signed onto the New York Jets roster as a potential replacement for their existing kicker who was 38 years old (remember, Lloyd is 37). Unfortunately, he had a shaky technique and didn’t create enough hang time on his kickoffs to maximize their effectiveness. Meola was cut after his third preseason game and never ended up playing in regular season NFL contest.

Arguably the best NFL kicking career coming from a former soccer player was by that of Anton “Toni” Fritsch. As a professional striker in Austria, Fritsch won several championships in his home country and played on their national team. In 1971 he was discovered and signed by the Dallas Cowboys and went on to have an 11 year NFL career that also included the Chargers, Oilers and Saints. He would retire in 1982 but make a one year comeback in the USFL for the Houston Gamblers in the 1984 season.

Although Fritsch’s success might give Lloyd’s biggest fans some hope, it’s important to consider the age at which he accomplished these feats. When he first started playing for Dallas, Fritsch was 26. When he retired from the NFL he was 37 and his final season of football came a year before his 40th birthday. Lloyd would be just starting her NFL career, if she chooses to do so, at around the same age as Fritsch (the most successful soccer to NFL convert) ended his.
Support for Lloyd’s potential testing of the waters into NFL kicking has been notably supported by current Buffalo Bills kicker Steven Hauschka. Upon hearing about Lloyd’s possible NFL tryout, Hauschka told ESPN:

“if it’s something she really wants to do, not only will I help her out—if she wants it—but I hope she goes for it.”

Hauschka has an extensive soccer background where he initially went to a Division III school with the intent to play the sport there. Upon getting cut from the school’s soccer team, he ended up trying out for and making the football team as a place kicker.  Eventually he would up kicking for NC State before heading to the NFL. But it would be wise consider the fact that Hauschka was nearly 20 years younger than Lloyd is now when he attempted to switch between the two sports.

So without even getting into any possible gender differences between Lloyd and any of these aforementioned male athletes or discussing the potential of physical harm if a kick gets blocked, the ability of her to make this transition at this stage of her career will be very difficult to say the least. This isn’t to say that Lloyd shouldn’t attempt to accomplish this. In fact, it would make her achievement all that more impressive if she’s able to make it onto an NFL team and survive the cuts. But despite all of the hype surrounding this possibility, it’s apparent that Lloyd securing a spot on an NFL roster is a long shot when we look at the history of the league.

Here’s What Navy Football’s Changed Motto Means

In the lead-up to their 2019 season, the US Naval Academy’s football team decided to change their season’s motto from “load the clip” to “win the day.” This was in response to employees at The Capital Gazette (a newspaper in Annapolis, MD) calling into question a lack of sensitivity surrounding last year’s deadly shooting in its newsroom. The horrific incident took place in June of 2018 and left five people dead. For the past several years, the team’s captains have come up with a different motto to use for the season. According to a Navy spokeswoman, the phrase “load the clip” was intended to “be a metaphor for daily game day preparation.”

When put into context of current American society, this decision becomes very interesting to dissect. It speaks to a number of truths about our current culture as well as the modern military in this country. Several points become apparent when considering what these events mean. Here are a few examples of those points.

1. Those who think that the military is not a politically correct institution are wrong.

When one thinks about political correctness in the United States, a number of groups or institutions may come to mind. Examples can include politicians, the mainstream media or colleges. But some might think that the armed forces should be omitted from this collection of PC examples. Perhaps that’s because they tend to lean to the right politically or because they rely heavily on the use of guns and other weapons. But make no mistake about it, the military can often match the political correctness of any other established fixture of American life.

Look no further than the statement made by Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Admiral Sean Buck. In response to this controversy, Buck said:

“The bottom line is, we missed the mark here. The initial internal football team motto selected, ‘Load the Clip,’ was inappropriate and insensitive to the community we call home, and for that, I take responsibility for, and apologize to not only the Capital Gazette, but the entire Annapolis community.”

A more politically correct response would be difficult to imagine. To call the motto “Load the Clip” inappropriate and insensitive while also apologizing shows that even the military is not immune from going into damage control to appease anyone who may find something insensitive.

2. Loading a clip is the only way that a Navy officer would be able to win at their most important job.

The reason for the “Load the Clip” slogan being used by the Navy’s football team is the obvious connotation between sports and the field of battle. Without a loaded clip, Navy personnel would be significantly unprepared to enter combat and “Win the Day” (in keeping with their new slogan). But anyone with a reasonable understanding of the differences between athletic competitions and war should be able to tell that loading a physical clip (or magazine) with actual bullets is not how football games are won. So despite the fact that we as Americans root for our military to “win” on the battlefield, the means to which they win (like loading clips) are a bridge too far when put into a metaphorical context for a team that represents a branch of that same military.

3. Despite the loading of clips, the US Military rarely wins wars anymore.

Actually winning a war has become pretty rare for the American armed forced these days. It’s not for lack of preparation since their clips (and other weapons) have no problem being loaded. It’s also not for a lack of technological advancement, deadliness or money spent since all of these things have made our military the greatest in the world. The lack of winning is a phenomenon that arises from the politicians who send troops to war not having adequate goals for those troops to achieve in order to actually win. This is why the military often spends year after year (and sometimes decade after decade) occupying various nations around the world with seemingly no end in sight. Winning isn’t possible if you can’t know when you’ve won. So actually, “Load the Clip” is more appropriate than “Win the Day” to today’s Navy since preparing weapons for use has become much more common than winning wars.

The Selective Desire for Diversity

Current NBA commissioner Adam Silver has recently expressed his views regarding the number of women in referee and coaching positions. At The Economic Club of Washington, D.C., Silver was quoted as saying:

“”It’s an area, frankly, where I’ve acknowledged that I’m not sure how it was that it remained so male-dominated for so long. Because it’s an area of the game where physically, certainly, there’s no benefit to being a man, as opposed to a woman, when it comes to refereeing. The goal is: Going forward, it should be roughly 50-50 of new officials entering in the league … same for coaches, by the way. We have a program, too. There’s no reason why women shouldn’t be coaching men’s basketball.”

Some may see this aspiration as ambitious. But what does this message from Silver really reveal about disparities in certain occupations?

First of all, Silver’s claim that there is no physical advantage to being a male referee as opposed to a female appears to be true enough. But why does he assume that this alone would account for the fact that men dominate this profession? After all there’s no physical advantage women have in female dominated professions such as nurses, interior designers and elementary school teachers. Yet those disparities have continued to exist. Clearly other factors than physical ability must be at work in creating the gender over-representation that occur in these fields.

In addition, the desire Silver has for diversity is conveniently applied to those he would oversee as commissioner but not to his own job. Being an older white man himself, Silver took over as league commissioner from David Stern, another older white man. The other commissioners of America’s four biggest sports (Roger Goodell, Rob Manfred and Gary Bettman) are likewise older men who are white. Silver is curiously silent about the lack of diversity that occurs among major sports commissioners in this country.

This omission of the desire for diversity when it comes to one’s own profession (or desired profession) is certainly not specific to Silver. When interviewed by Vermont Public Radio after he declared for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2020, Senator Bernie Sanders was asked about how he, as an old white man, could represent “the face of the new Democratic Party.” Sanders replied with:

“We have got to look at candidates, you know, not by the color of their skin, not by their sexual orientation or their gender and not by their age. I mean, I think we have got to try to move us toward a non-discriminatory society which looks at people based on their abilities, based on what they stand for.”

Sanders, like Silver, is part of an ideology that places diversity as something of premium importance. That is, apparently, unless it comes to their own jobs or to jobs they are aspiring to get. Only then will talent, experience and ability supersede the desire for a “diverse” workforce. Silver and Sanders abide by the philosophy that merit should be the ultimate factor for me, but not for thee.

Whether or not Silver’s desire for a league comprised of 50% of female refs and coaches will remain to be seen. But often times when someone at the top make a demand for diversity, they themselves are far from an example of it. Many times this is likely why the attempt is made in the first place. In our diversity obsessed culture, if those running the show are members of the majority, all effort must be made to make minorities of as many professions as they can. That is, as long as those professions don’t interfere with their reign.

Is Lying About Golf Worse Than War?

Former sports columnist Rick Reilly is out with a new book. The book’s is titled “Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump.” It explores Donald Trump’s behavior on the golf course as well as his claims about his golfing skill. As one could probably guess from the book’s title, it does not paint the president in a very flattering light.

Given Reilly’s history, it isn’t surprising that he has a strong dislike for Trump. But a recent exchange with sportswriter Bryan Curtis is especially curious. Curtis describes Reilly’s experience on the night of the 2016 election as a “familiar nightmare.” At a bar in Charleston, SC, Reilly and a former colleague of his had expected Hillary Clinton to win (as so many did). He then describes himself as feeling “light-headed and nauseous” as the inevitability of Trump’s victory sets in.

The curious part of this account comes in how vehemently opposed Reilly once was of the Iraq War. In a 2005 article he titled “The Hero and the Unknown Soldier,” he recounts the death of former NFL player turned US Army Ranger Pat Tillman as well as a lesser known serviceman named Todd Bates who was also killed in action. Reilly closes the column saying:

“Be proud that sports produce men like this. But I, for one, am furious that these wars keep taking them.”

The inconsistency on the part of Reilly comes in his dread and sickness as a result of Trump beating Clinton. Trump rose victoriously through the Republican primary calling the Iraq War “a disaster.” His beating of more hawkish opponents showed that Republican voters were willing to accept that war as being a mistake. You would think someone who was as against that war as Reilly would at least see some virtue in the party that lead that invasion nominating someone who was so strongly opposed to it.

In addition, why was Reilly so saddened upon the defeat of Hillary Clinton given her past support for the war in Iraq and several other overseas military actions? After all, if he were consistently against operations OEF and OIF, then shouldn’t he oppose all politicians who voted for them? If this were the case, Reilly’s nightmare should have begun when the Democrats chose to make Clinton their candidate rather than when she lost the general election. Having to choose between Clinton and Trump could have been his nightmare (it was for many), but there should have been no love lost for the former first lady for anyone claiming to favor peace.

Certainly someone’s support or opposition for a candidate can depend on many factors outside of foreign policy. But Reilly so emphatically objected to George W. Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq that it’s hard to see how he could just disregard one politician’s war-mongering past and lambaste a president who proved that you could object to that war and still find favor within the Republican Party. The conclusion that makes the most sense is that Reilly turns a blind eye when it comes to war to those he happens to agree with politically. Clinton voted in the affirmative for a war that Reilly claims he hated. But since he has more in common with her politically, that fact is swept under the rug. Conversely, Trump becomes the embodiment of all evil despite his harsh criticism of the same war. Even though Reilly was never a political writer, it would be nice to see some intellectual consistency in his politics.

Don’t Give a Free Pass to Either NCAA or State Exploitation

The most talked about play of the college basketball season so far happened on Wednesday night as Duke’s Zion Williamson injured his knee after one of his shoes split open. It was less than a minute into the game when the star forward fell to the hardwood. Williamson was forced to leave the game against arch-rival North Carolina and did not return. Reports are that he suffered a knee sprain and is listed as “day to day.”

The build up to Wednesday night’s matchup was as intense as it has ever been in the storied rivalry. Ticket prices were rivaling that of the most recent Super Bowl. Celebrities, including former president Barack Obama, were on hand to see the contest. The reason for the hype was primarily Williamson, as the uniquely talented freshman is expected to go number one overall in this year’s NBA Draft. Alas, these high paying customers only got to see him for a short period of time before his night was over.

More than anything, this incident is shedding light on the absurdity to which college basketball conducts itself. A player who was the biggest reason for the ticket price and television ratings surge damaged his body while receiving no compensation for the revenue he was clearly responsible for. There is currently an ongoing debate within the sports media as to whether Williamson should even return to Duke’s lineup since he can’t possibly raise his draft stock any higher and could risk further injury. When the organization that a player plays under won’t allow their athletes to get paid, continuing to play under these circumstances might be too big of a risk.

One of the more interesting aspects of these opinions on Williamson’s future is how many on the political left are calling out the NCAA and questioning their unwillingness to financially compensate the athletes that comprise it. For example, The Ringer’s Roger Sherman was very critical of the current system in his latest article and lamented the situation that leads to elite athletes being exploited in this way. Sherman admitted in an NFL article he wrote back in September that he is a socialist. Yet his arguments criticizing the inability of collegiate athletes to profit off of their talent are intensely capitalistic.

The Ringer’s embrace of a socialist philosophy does not end with Sherman. The website has published numerous articles offering glowing praise of democratic socialist congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. As many of us know, she and others are in favor of dramatically raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Many who champion her cause have cited highly taxed European nations as a model for the United States to follow.

However, if one’s disapproval of the NCAA seizing all of the revenue created by its talent is so great, then why is the seizure of wealth by the state something to celebrate? Why does the government get to limit compensation via taxation if the NCAA’s prevention of compensation is so wrong? Why do those who desire the state to seize more private wealth not see the similarities to a collegiate cartel that seizes all of that wealth? Are the government and the NCAA really that different when put into this context?

While it is true that the NCAA prevents all wealth from getting into the hands of their athletes while governments take a certain percentage (based on income bracket), it isn’t clear why a lesser degree of income extraction is so much more virtuous. After all, if total income confiscation by an entity is seen as complete exploitation or even a form of slavery by some, then at what reduced level of confiscation does one cease to be exploited or enslaved? This question conjures up Robert Nozick’s “Tale of the Slave” in which he takes the reader through nine steps of slavery conditions that gradually improve. It starts with the master collecting 100% of the slave’s wages and ends with 3/7 of his wages being taken by a less cruel ruler. But the final question is still, “at what stage do you cease being a slave?”

The current tax policy put forward by Cortez and championed by others would raise the top tax rate to 70% after the ten million dollar mark is reached. Should Williamson become the NBA superstar many predict that he will be, he will have no problem reaching this number at some point in his career. However, the label that the political left throws around so frequently as a target for scorn is the dreaded “one percent.” The threshold for arriving in this exclusive club is not 10 million dollars but actually slightly less than $450,000. If we want to trot out the Scandinavian nations that the progressives seem to be so fond of, the top tax rate (that is significantly higher than that of the US) kicks in if a worker makes only around one and a half times the national average (roughly a $70,000 a year salary in the US). Here in America, a worker has to make eight times the national average in order to be subject to a lower top level tax rate.

So no matter if politicians want to soak those who make 10 million plus, the one percent or make this country more like northern Europe, the elite of the NBA are going to take a hit. As it stands right now, Williamson and other future NBA stars in the college game are having all of the money they accumulate confiscated by a ruling entity. Once they are out from under that rule and able to profit off of their talents, the ruling entity known as the state will lay claim to a sizable portion of what they are compensated with. Just like the NCAA claims that the benefits of attending college justify its withholding of any payment to their athletes, the government will claim that the benefits it bestows on society justify any and all taxation they wish to impose. Those on the left who advocate for collegiate athlete compensation and bemoan NCAA exploitation are oblivious to how the state lays its claim to privately obtained wealth using a similar farce.

No, the Government Doesn’t Get Credit for a Safe Super Bowl

Thanks to a deal that was reached late last month, the Federal Government’s shutdown has temporarily ended. President Donald Trump has signed a resolution to reopen the government for three weeks. Thousands of federal workers will now receive back pay for the pay checks that they missed due to the shutdown. The president and congress will now have until February 15th to arrive at a more permanent budget.

One of the concerns during the shutdown was the effect it would have on the February 3rd Super Bowl in Atlanta. Had the three week deal not been reached, many would be wondering about the shutdown’s influence on both security and efficiency of that event. After all, many TSA agents weren’t showing up for work as a result of not being able to get paid. In addition, many government agencies collaborate with both the stadium authorities and local law enforcement during Super Bowl weekend.

But how much of a crisis would this have been had the government shutdown remained through this past weekend? Why does a huge event like the Super Bowl require such involvement by the feds in the first place? Is there another way to have security that is not dependent upon the government’s ability to have a current budget? If so, what would that kind of security even look like?

One of the most significant situations facing the huge influx of people into the Atlanta area was the issue of the TSA at Atlanta’s major airport. Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International is statistically the busiest airport in the world by measure of passenger traffic. Had the government remained shut down, Super Bowl weekend may have turned into a disaster due to a shortage of TSA agents. However, things didn’t have to be this way. Over 20 airports throughout the United States have switched to private security. Not only are these employees getting paid regardless of governmental situations, but they are often better at ensuring safety and quicker at processing passengers. Unfortunately, Atlanta was not one of the cities that switched to private airport security.

Another potential problem that was thought to impact The Big Game was the collaboration between federal authorities and local or private security. Considering that the Secret Service, FBI, TSA, ICE and Customs and Border Protection all play a role in stadium security and some haven’t been getting paid, concerns over personnel appear to have been warranted. Though it’s not clear why the NFL should be so reliant on the Federal Government for the security of their biggest game in the first place. Shouldn’t a billion dollar organization like the NFL be able to provide for its own security independent of government agents?

In addition, if some sort of attack did happen during the Super Bowl (God forbid) with the government still in shutdown mode, the politicians and most of the media would be the first to blame it on the lack of a fully functional government. However, if the same attack happened in the absence of a shutdown, how much blame would the government really shoulder for it? Sure, they would have to answer some difficult questions. But the likely culprit would be the alleged “underfunding” of the failed government agencies that we trusted to protect us. Thus the state is always covered either way.

As is often the case, government will take credit for when a potentially bad situation doesn’t end in the disaster that many feared it would. But it would be wise to remember why the situation existed in the first place. If events like the Super Bowl weren’t so reliant on government for basic security, then a government shutdown wouldn’t be the crisis that many allege that it is. Hopefully this will be something to keep in mind when government manufactures their next self-imposed catastrophe.

ESPN’s “The Undefeated” Ignores Facts to Play Race Card

Recent comments made by Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield regarding former head coach Hue Jackson have made some headlines. Jackson had recently been fired as Mayfield’s head coach and almost immediately took a job with the division rival Cincinnati Bengals. Following the Brown’s win over the Bengals that came in the aftermath of Jackson’s firing and hiring, Mayfield was asked about the situation. He responded by saying:

“He left Cleveland and goes down to Cincinnati? I don’t know. It’s just somebody that was in our locker room asking for us to play for him, and then goes to a different team we play twice a year. Everybody can have their spin on it, but that’s how I feel.”

One writer who certainly had a problem with this was William C. Rhoden, who writes for the ESPN owned site theundefeated.com. Rhoden’s article criticizing Mayfield is entitled “Who does Baker Mayfield think he is?” The first part of his criticism focuses on the young quarterback not being in the league long enough to call out a veteran coach like Jackson. If Rhoden simply believes that Mayfield’s comments toward Jackson were in bad taste, that would be one thing. But since Mayfield is white and Jackson is black, a racial spin had to be injected to satisfy the criteria for The Undefeated. Thus, Rhoden proceeds with the following bizarre and unfounded quotes.

“Mayfield, the latest Heisman Trophy winner, was touted as a hero and matinee idol since his college days. This follows a pattern for just about every major white college quarterback who has talent.”

As if this isn’t the case for major black quarterbacks coming out of college who have talent. Somehow Rhoden was oblivious to the hero and idol status of recently great black college quarterbacks like Cam Newton, Vince Young, Deshaun Watson, Robert Griffin III and Jameis Winston. Some of these quarterbacks have been successful at the NFL level, some were not, and others are a little too young to make an official judgement on. But Rhoden is either completely ignorant of the hype surrounding these black quarterbacks coming out of college or he’s dismissing it out of convenience.

“Black quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson, on the other hand, play under the ever-present cloud of being told they should switch to wide receiver. Even today, if you listen closely to the language around black quarterbacks, they are praised for exceptional athletic ability but not their throwing accuracy…When is the last time an elite white college quarterback was advised to switch to wide receiver?”

It now appears that Rhoden is oblivious to the brief professional football career of Tim Tebow. Numerous journalists and analysts expresses the belief that Tebow had to change positions from quarterback if he wanted to stay in the NFL. It seems rather impossible that anyone with even a basic knowledge of football would be capable of not remembering Tebow’s collegiate and professional quarterbacking. It appears that Rhoden is most likely hoping his audience has erased the quarterback’s career from their memories.

As far as Lamar Jackson goes, perhaps the reason that the Ravens’ rookie starter has been praised for his athletic ability rather than his throwing accuracy has to do with what has transpired on the field. As of Rhoden’s writing, Jackson had run for 188 yards in just two games. However, he had also passed for one touchdown and three interceptions during the same time. Is an assessment of ability still racially coded if it proves to be accurate?

“Earlier this season, after the Houston Texans suffered a loss to Tennessee, Onalaska (Texas) Independent School District superintendent Lynn Redden posted this comment about Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson:

‘That may have been the most inept quarterback decision I have seen in the NFL. When you need precision decision-making, you can’t count on a black quarterback.’

Clearly not everyone feels this way, but enough people still do to raise concerns.”

Unsurprisingly, Rhoden doesn’t mention that this superintendent resigned over these comments. He also apologized directly to Watson in his resignation letter. So why doesn’t Rhoden mention this? Probably because it shows that the country is far less tolerant of racism that his main thesis implies that it is. Racist comments making someone an unemployable pariah don’t exactly mesh with an author and a website that attempts to drive home the idea that race and racism is still an overwhelming presence in our society.

Perhaps what’s even more unfortunate than this article from Rhoden is what it reveals about the agenda of his website. Sports journalists who live and breathe statistics, information and sports history are conveniently omitting actual facts to push certain ideas. It’s a sad state of affairs when these types of issues take precedence over reality. An informed public and critical thinking remain the best antidotes to this kind of selective truth.

The Principles of Liberty that Apply to the NBA Age Limit

News was made recently in the sports world on two fronts regarding how the NBA will assess the path for elite high school basketball players and what will happen to the controversial “one and done” rule. First, the NBA G-League (essentially the minor league of professional basketball) announced the start of a program that would offer $125,000 contracts to the best high school basketball players in the nation instead of playing in college. While that goes on, league commissioner Adam Silver is trying to reach an agreement with the Players Association on lowering the minimum playing age to 18. The G-League contract program would begin in 2019. The lowering of the age requirement is aimed for the year 2022.

These developments would, of course, have a huge impact on the college basketball game as we know it today. As it stands currently (and has since 2005), the NBA requires those entering the draft to be at least one year out of high school and be at least 19 years old. There had been no realistic alternative to playing basketball in college during this time unless a player was willing to play professionally overseas. The G-League’s program will certainly lure away many of the better high school basketball players from the college game until the NBA drops the age limit and allows those players to enter the draft.

This is all very good news for those like me who have been critical of the NBA’s age requirement and want to see players get paid in some capacity since the NCAA will not allow it. I’ve written about the NCAA, the “one and done” phenomenon and how they relate to the professional game before. What I would like to do here is discuss the libertarian, or free market principles that apply to how the NBA should approach the issue of elite talent coming out of high school. These are the principles that have led me to the conclusion that the NBA was foolish to raise the age above 18 in the first place.

The Right to Your Labor

As an adult, you should have the right to enter into a contract with an organization that is willing to contract with you. Certainly the NBA has the right, as a private entity, to make their minimum age whatever they want. But why should an organization prevent individuals from receiving a contract from those within it (the teams) who would certainly offer it to them? If you truly own your talent, you should be able to use it to your own benefit in a free society.

Rejecting Society’s Obsession with College

When the NCAA is criticized for not allowing their athletes to profit in any way off of the value they clearly provide, a defense that is often made on their behalf is that the athletes are able to get a college education instead. The implication being that what you can learn in college can be equally or even more valuable than an athlete’s professional contract. But this claim ignores the declining value in having a college degree (for those athletes who actually graduate), plus the disinterest or inability that many student athletes have when it comes to benefiting from higher level learning. When going to college becomes a sacred cow, being enrolled in one is never questioned for anyone even if they would be better off contributing to society in other ways.

The claim of wanting elite college basketball players to stay in school has become laughable when other collegiate sports are taken into consideration. Do people care about elite high school baseball players choosing to enter the MLB draft instead of taking a baseball scholarship? The answer would be “no” because college baseball does not cause as much viewership as does March Madness. The desire to keep great college players at the amateur level has more to do with people’s desire to see those players compete at that level for a longer time rather than some kind of alleged commitment to higher education.

There is no Substitute for On-The-Job-Training

It is frequently stated during the debate over whether a collegiate basketball player should declare for the NBA Draft or not that the player should stay in college and “work on his game.” However, this seems curious considering that the college game varies so differently from that of the NBA and that the level of competition leads to very different personnel. In fact, according to the NCAA’s own statistics, only about 1.2% of collegiate basketball players will even make it to the NBA level. So why does it benefit an athlete trying to succeed at the professional level if they are going to continue competing in an organization where the overwhelming majority aren’t good enough to play at level in the first place? Clearly the best place to develop your NBA skills is in the NBA. While there, an athlete is able to compete against the individuals that he is trying to improve himself against. The style of play and the level of athleticism work to mold the athlete into someone who can succeed on the highest level. Claiming that trying to do this against an inferior level of talent is more beneficial makes very little sense.

For all of these reasons, those of us who embrace liberty should be encouraged by these developments. Both the G-League’s proposal and the lowering of the age for NBA draftees will go a long way in ending the NCAA’s stranglehold on top level talent that it isn’t willing to compensate. Sure, these two occurrences will cause a decline in the level of talent featured in college basketball. But considering the ongoing resistance to paying the players that so many have profited off of, it’s more than appropriate to say that this has been a long time coming.

If the Left Desires to Curb Police Abuse, They Must Confront Their Allegiance to Unions

Controversial former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick is back in the news again. It seems that over the Labor Day weekend, Nike decided to use him for a new advertising campaign despite no longer being a professional athlete. Of course, Kaepernick’s continuing relevance is due to his previous kneeling in protest during the National Anthem while it played before a football game as well as other positions he’s taken on social issues. Many have cited this as the primary reason he is no longer employed by a professional football team.

The initial causes of Kaepernick’s protest were perceived injustices that he thought were happening at the hands of American law enforcement against racial minorities. When asked about his decision to do this, Kaepernick said:

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Regardless of what one thinks about this former athlete’s methods to convey his message, the abuse of police power is something that most people can generally condemn. So if this abuse is a problem where it exists, it is then fair to ask what is being done to improve the situation or what is preventing the situation from improving. What are the reasons for incidents like this continuing to happen even if they are rare and do not represent the vast majority of law enforcement? If there are solutions that could lessen the tendency for abuse, what barriers do those solutions face?

If one were to list the obstacles that were preventing necessary reforms to police practice and the elimination of the “bad apples” who contribute to these harmful incidents, it would be impossible to ignore the role that police unions play. Time after time these unions defend the most abusive and worst cops in their respective departments. Firing a bad cop is extremely difficult if he/she happens to be a union member. The ability to do away with the few members of law enforcement who behave in this manner would go a long way in improving the relationship with the police and their communities.

As is the case with so many unions, the ones comprised of policemen are closely in bed with politics. Elected officials frequently receive campaign contributions from police unions. Despite the protests of abuse by law enforcement generally coming from the political left, it is the Democratic Party that receives most of this funding. Thus, the reforms and firings that would need to take place in order to best prevent the situations that the left continues to protest are prevented from occurring due to the money from these unions that goes to leftist politicians.

In this regard, police unions are rarely ever different from other unions in the public sector. Just like firing bad cops is rarely ever done, firing bad teachers and other government employees is a monumental task. Of course, those unions make sure that this is the case. The result is often a system with very little accountability for the worst workers in every sector and level of government employment.

So perhaps it was rather fitting that Nike rolled out Kaepernick’s ad campaign on Labor Day weekend since the political left frequently lauds the existence of unions during this time. Those same progressives should do some soul searching in relation to how their ideology allows them to vehemently protest police abuse while championing unions who protect the abusers and the politicians who take the union’s money. In order to fix any problem, the root cause must be identified. Ignoring the role that police unions play in this matter will only keep this problem firmly in the ground.