Nearly a year ago, the basis of free speech was challenged on a nationwide scale. As the evening Fox News aired on Feb. 15, 2018, the existential relationship between media and professional athletes was tarnished as Laura Ingraham went center stage to announce her displeasurement with LeBron James’ public bashing of President Donald Trump. LeBron has faced slander and scrutiny, in regards to his playing career, to no end. To ridicule his value of life and strike down his worth as a human being, Ingraham managed with four words.
Shut up, and dribble.
LeBron responded to this by opening The I Promise School in Akron, Ohio for 240 struggling, at-risk students to get a proper education, something he calls arguably the greatest moment of his life. He had already been paying college tuitions for a countless number of struggling households prior to the schools opening on Jul. 30, 2018.
This is a man raised in dirt and poverty that prioritizes helping his community over his own individual career. LeBron should be loved and appreciated by everyone who claims to hold a good heart. The ones who stand against him are typically two different kinds of people: Those who love Kobe Bryant, and those who hold firm to the agenda that LeBron stands against.
“At this time right now, with the president of the United States, it’s at a bad time, and while we cannot change what comes out of that man’s mouth, we can continue to alert the people that watch us, that listen to us, that this is not the way,” said LeBron in a podcast with ESPN’s Cari Champion in February 2018.
LeBron puts forth his stance on racial injustice as have many professional athletes since the sacrifices of Colin Kaepernick. In using a high platform to speak out against the murdering of young men, these athletes accept a target being placed on their back. As bulls charge at the sight of red, those who align far-right tend to take the fight to their opposition. That’s what Ingraham did, and it’s what Fox Sports Writer Clay Travis attempted to do.
Travis has a reputation for targeting athletes like LeBron who publicly denounce Trump and the views of his supporters. In August 2018 Travis published an article on Outkick the Coverage, publicly bashing LeBron for paying only 20% of the total funding for The I Promise School and leaving around 75% of it to taxpayer money.
It did not take long for the graces of the internet to point out that the most money one party can put into a public school before it, by-law, becomes a private school is 20%.
However, the issue is not nationally acclaimed journalists making millions of dollars to spew inaccurate information without proper research. The issue is how far people will go for the agenda they believe in, and how media manipulates that for a profit. Did Ingraham really mean it when she said LeBron was too unintelligent to talk about politics? She was more than likely reading off a screened transcript. Is Clay Travis a racist bigot that isn’t good at his job? Who knows, but in this world of journalism where all that matters is how many clicks an article gets or how many people are talking about a story, integrity and moral won’t make Fox any money.
Of course, what gets talked about the most in our current society are issues surrounding Trump, the controversies of those aligned with him and the issues of social injustice, with those intertwining more times than not. It has further bolded a dividing line based on belief, between those who hold firm to their ethical values and those who hold firm to the foundations set by our predecessors. When those foundations are challenged, opposed against, viewed as immoral, it is resulting in continued retaliation.
People have access to more grounded, more personally-affecting information than ever due to the sheer masses of social media. Heinous actions, that would otherwise be ignored, are brought to light in this spectrum. It allows people to be able to connect with each other, to use a wide-reaching platform to make a difference. It allows for widespread interpretation on current issues.
When a man who opens schools and helps people is mocked and insulted for utilizing his first amendment rights, when an acclaimed athlete gets verbally slaughtered for taking a stand against murder, when rapes and assaults get swept under the rug with no real punishment, people no longer have to wonder why.
It is no longer about these things being morally wrong nor about why they are happening. In this era of media, it is about standing up against it.