The irony of very well-recompensed nominally-American basketball players of color reacting with wild indignation to American criticism of China with regard to heavy-handed treatment of citizens of Tibet and residents of Hong Kong is of a density so thick and heavy that it threatens to drop through the core of the earth and come out the other side. This of course, after months of rather public displays by professional athletes of color making a big thing of knee-taking and demonstrations of disapproval during the playing of the American national anthem at the start of various games. This cheap display of woke-virtue sporting world division may already have sunk the National Football League, in the minds and hearts of those fans of football in Flyoverlandia-America. I suppose now we can look forward to seeing the same fatal holed-below-the-waterline-and-sinking-fast pattern in the round-bouncy-ball franchise; honestly, it’s as if the NBA is basically saying, “Hold my beer and watch this!”
Frankly, I’d boycott them both and the Olympics for good measure but since I have never been sufficiently interested in any of them as a fan, and I think that Gregg Popovitch is a total d*ck anyway, my disinterest wouldn’t have any particular effect. Is there something deeper going on, as this commenter suggests? I’m not enough of a fan of sports or the Nike brand to have any particular insight, but abiding native cynicism leads me to the conclusion, as Rep. Ilhan Omar/Elmi (D-Mogadishu) explained in another context, “It’s all about the Benjamins.”
That China in general, or China as a consumer seems to exercise so much economic power over American pop-culture generally is a matter to give one pause. It is one thing to consider the what we in Air Force Broadcasting used to call “Host Nation Sensitivities’ – that is, certain topics were, out of consideration for those countries in which we operated, were to be avoided. In Japan, it was any depiction of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or mention of atom bombs, especially in a joking manner. In Spain, it was, IIRC, the Spanish-American War – a bit of history so far in the past that I cannot recall it ever coming up. Denmark, the civil authority over Greenland when I was serving there, was quite sensible about it all, admitting that they didn’t have any beef over anything which we might potentially air. In contrast, the host nation sensitivities pertaining to Greece were draconian: any mention of Greece in any context, Turkey, ditto, NATO or the European Economic Community, as the EU was known then.
The bottom line is that I totally get being circumspect in a foreign country, or about one where you hope to do business, but there is a line to be drawn, when pro-Hong Kong demonstrators are thrown out of an exhibition game in an American stadium. There is a line to be drawn when American movie-makers preemptively censor themselves to curry favor with a foreign audience, over those at home.
Perhaps this group of basketball fans in Toronto has the right idea; to give away pro-Hong Kong tee shirts for members of the audience to wear to games. Discuss as you wish.