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Expanding Beyond Basketball, The Philadelphia 76ers Now Make Terrible Socio-Political Decisions

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Former Philadelphia Eagle, ex-NFL head coach, and current ESPN talking head Herman Edwards says a lot of stupid things on television, but he also says a lot of things that are undeniably true. One of those truisms hangs on the wall in my office; it’s my #1 dictate when it comes to management.

You’re either managing something, or you’re allowing it to happen.

There’s a lot of layers in those ten words, but when it comes to how the Philadelphia 76ers handled a national anthem protest this week, they managed to turn right into wrong. The fact they ham-fisted yet another decision doesn’t surprise me; bad decision making is a hallmark of being one of the worst-run organizations in all of professional sports.  What concerns me for that organization is how they did it; they went to a new level of gutlessness and stupidity which will haunt them in future contract negotiations.

On Wednesday moment prior to their season opener, the team stopped Sevyn Streeter from singing the national anthem because of her “We Matter” jersey.  Instead, the 76ers had a member of their dance team sing the national anthem. Of course, there’s two sides to every story.

The Associated Press said the 76ers declined in their original statement to say why Streeter’s performance was canceled, but there was a dead give-away contained within the politically-correct hogwash they released.

“The Philadelphia 76ers organization encourages meaningful actions to drive social change. We use our games to bring people together, to build trust and to strengthen our communities. As we move from symbolic gestures to action, we will continue to leverage our platform to positively impact our community.”

That’s a serious amount of fertilizer, but it pales in comparison to what Streeter laid out to the Associated Press.

”I’d say two minutes before we were about to walk out … the organization told me that I could not wear my shirt while singing the national anthem at their game. I was never given any kind of dress code. I was never asked beforehand to show my wardrobe.”

What the 76ers offered us was just meaningless PC crap.  What Streeter said is either an outright lie or a monstrous display of stupidity.

ESPN reported ”any on-court performer–singer, dancer, or entertainer must sign a contract that gives the 76ers the right to cancel a performance if the standards described in the contract are not met.” Jan Carabeo of Philadelphia’s CBS3 added the contract Streeter signed when she agreed to sing the anthem prohibited her from making political statements in the performance, and that the 76ers offered her an alternate shirt and song, but she refused.

Unless you are a complete chowderhead, it’s obvious what’s happening here.  Streeter was trying to pull a “Kaepernick,” and she thought she could get away with it because somebody else pulled a similar stunt in the 76ers last pre-season game in Miami.  The Heat let it happen, and they were wrong to do so.  I’m probably going to get a lot of noise from some politically-correct mushheads, but the 76ers were legally AND morally correct for denying Streeter’s action, and were being responsible form a business perspective.

First of all, whether you like it or not, she DID NOT have the right to make any form of protest as she signed a legally binding agreement stating that she would not do so. The argument begins and ends there. She willfully entered into that contract, and she would have been completely and totally in breach of that agreement.  But to go back to the Herm Edwards saying, the 76ers managed that situation. They invoked the clause in the contract preventing any such display which was mutually agreed upon, and they were well within their rights to do so, as well as being right to do it.

When Streeter tries to get you to buy her excuse that she didn’t know, she’s either lying, stupid, or both. There is no other option because she signed the contract.  That means she either signed it knowing she was going to violate the terms and/or made a decision to violate the terms after she signed it (the “liar” option), or she didn’t read and understand the terms of the agreement (the “stupid” option).

This is the part where the PC Police and the usual suspect “social justice warriors” are going to toss a lot of bilge at me about “rights” and “freedom of expression.”  I dealt with that in my original piece about Kaepernick’s so-called protest, and it is just as applicable in this case, because the 76ers are a large organization which has many different levels of responsibilities and obligations.  Look at it this way.  Given what is happening to the NFL’s television ratings (Kaepernick certainly may not be the only reason for that, but he certainly doesn’t help), and given the fact that the NBA just cashed some big TV money checks this year, the last thing they are going to risk is an NFL-style ratings plunge.  The hard reality is in the numbers.

The NBA’s television ratings for last season were very much on the rise.  ABC’s NBA coverage was up 9% with 3.9 million average viewers per game this season. ESPN and TNT were both up 10% with an added 1.7 million viewers, and even the limited-exposure network NBA TV was up 19% for an additional 345,000 viewers.  That’s a big part of why the NBA is enjoying a new $24 billion television deal with Disney-owned ESPN and ABC,  and Viacom-owned TNT.

It would be easy to simply say they are just protecting their money, but that’s a child-like view of the business at work here.  The fact of the matter is that the 76ers, like every other franchise in the NBA have to make payroll, and I’m not talking about the players. no matter what happens, millionaire players and billionaire owners already have their money.  But every professional sports team has a large staff of people who get paychecks every other Friday.  I’m talking about vendors, office staff, event security, and the like. If people stop going to games and stop watching on television, those people who need those paychecks are the first ones to get hurt.

That’s why the 76ers were right to do what they did when they canceled Streeter’s performance.  She agreed not to stage any protest, and by stopping her, the 76ers not only protected their interests, but those of innocent people who are dependent on the well-being of the business which is the NBA.  As I said in my original piece exposing the hypocrisy of people like Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick elevates himself from relatively-unknown shitty quarterback on a shitty team by taking a knee during the national anthem.  You aren’t an NFL player, but you can simulate the intended effect by showing up tomorrow at your job wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt.  There will be a lot of chatter about the guy from accounting whose “making a statement,” but then you’ll be called into the HR office and given a Bill Lumbergh-esque “Ummm..if you could not wear that shirt, that’d be great” chiding.

The reason why that will happen is rather simple.  Whether you are an accountant or a back-up quarterback, things you do on your employer’s property while on your employer’s time are not subject to the commonly held “free speech” rules. Those only exist between individuals and the government.

That’s why people get paid to go to work. Football players get paid to play football so that the NFL can make money from people who want to watch football. If players start screwing with that (and judging by the opening weekend’s TV ratings, that’s EXACTLY what’s happening), then the NFL has a problem. Since the NFL is too gutless to defend it’s product against the actions of a few self-absorbed jerk-offs, it’s going to lose viewers and ultimately sponsors. Then people start losing their jobs.

That’s why nobody with any brains puts any stock in these so-called protests; these are simply people drawing attention to themselves by propagating a complete lie and doing it on somebody else’s dime.

But then, the 76ers made their big mistake.  They apologized for being right.

“We are sorry that this happened. After receiving feedback from our players, basketball operations staff, and ownership group, we believe that the wrong decision was made, and Sevyn should have been welcomed to sing. We apologize to her, and in an effort to move the conversation forward, we have reached out to offer her an opportunity to return and perform at a game of her choice. We are waiting to hear back.”

How utterly fucking gutless…and stupid. You can see that by breaking down that statement.

“We are sorry that this happened…”

What the 76ers are actually sorry about is they just discovered they don’t have the organizational ability to anticipate consequences of action and develop contingency plans for those consequences?  Think about it.  The 76ers took their action, but never once thought that in a racially-divided America, this might just go viral on social media and get you fairly or otherwise accused of being racists? Somebody should have seen that coming and had a plan do deal with it.

“…After receiving feedback from our players, basketball operations staff, and ownership group…”

This is all speculation since I can’t know what happened behind closed doors, but I’d be willing to bet that line really means:

  1. Players: I’m not sure what else they could do but threaten a walk-out.  That’s a bluff the 76ers should have totally called.  Once again, players are under contracts, and they simply can’t just not play. Once they do, they have beached the contract and the 76ers could have stopped paying them.  By breaching the contracts, all players who got signing bonuses at the beginning of those contracts would have to repay all or part of those bonuses.  I’m betting that stops a walk-out threat really quick, because the player’s union wouldn’t be able to do a thing since it was the players who committed the breach.
  2. Basketball Operations Staff: A group of people who collectively weren’t going to say a single word until they saw which way the owners went.
  3. Ownership Group: Were most likely pissed off about how this was handled…namely, they probably wanted to know why they didn’t let her sing, then sue her into the stone age for breach of contract.

“…We apologize to her, and in an effort to move the conversation forward, we have reached out to offer her an opportunity to return and perform at a game of her choice. We are waiting to hear back.”

Translated, this line means “we offered her the choice to sing at another 76ers game, where her name will be in the news and every drunken meathead between here and Trenton will have proper notice to come down to the Wells Fargo with his pockets loaded with throwing batteries.  We’re not sure if being hung up on constitutes an official response.”

Sadly, I can already hear the response to this piece.  The PC nudniks and the “social justice warriors” will freak the fuck out at even the slightest suggestion that a cause they support is complete bullshit and that somebody attempting to advance that cause by being either dishonest or dumb deserved to suffer some consequences. I can already see the responses calling me a racist, or better yet, how many times I will see buzz-crap words like “unity,” “white privilege,” or my favorite… “community.” Those people will as usual, completely miss the point.

The bottom line is at first the 76ers had managed this, but then by caving to a bunch of shitheads who don’t matter, they allowed it to happen, which means they deserve all the fallout they get for this.

About J-Dub

What your view of sports would be if you had too many concussions

One comment on “Expanding Beyond Basketball, The Philadelphia 76ers Now Make Terrible Socio-Political Decisions

  1. sportsattitudes
    November 2, 2016

    The Sixers will likely be 0-5 shortly. We’re still resting our top players…those that aren’t flat-out injured of course. Have to trust the “process” ya know. Opening Night here was a circus between the national anthem fiasco and Westbrook getting a double-bird from a cursing full-time urologist, part-time comedian. You can’t make this stuff up…

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This entry was posted on October 30, 2016 by in Basketball, Sports and tagged , , .

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