When I (Morgan) was younger, I remember hearing about a family friend on the US Men's Soccer Team. He was training for the 1980 Moscow Olympics when then-president Jimmy Carter announced that following the USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan, the US would boycott the Summer Games. “Although the United States would prefer not to withdraw from the Olympic games scheduled in Moscow this summer, the Soviet Union must realize that its continued aggressive actions will endanger both the participation of athletes and the travel to Moscow by spectators who would normally wish to attend the Olympic Games,” said Carter. (Full speech here.)
The Carter boycott—stay tuned to find out how it ended!—reminded me of North Carolina’s current predicament. Last week, Pat McCory signed a bill overriding city LGBT non-discrimination ordinances and banning transpeople from using their preferred bathrooms. The NBA suggested that the law may jeopardize Charlotte hosting the 2017 All-Star game. I’m here to help. To assist the beleagured governor in navigating the waters of professional sports boycotts and threats of ‘em, I’ve created a foolproof, objective ranking of professional sports boycotts (and threats of ‘em) for him. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, The 12 (Sometimes) Highly Publicized Sports Boycotts and Threats of ‘Em Ranked in Order of Power.
Leadoff hitter: 12 (Sometimes) Highly Publicized Sports Bo...aw, you know the rest.
The (would-be) Boycotter: The USA Olympic team.
The (would-be) Boycottee: Sochi, Russia, host of the 2014 Olympics.
But why? Vladimir Putin signs a bill forbidding Russians to a) say it’s okay to be gay and b) tell children that it’s not wrong to be gay or grow up with gay parents.
Result: No boycott. Russia wins 33 medals. Team USA wins 28. Putin keeps his law. Putin invades Ukraine the week the Olympics close. Being queer in the USSR Russia—depending where you live—still a nightmare.
Rating: Wet Noodle.
The Boycotter: Team USA
The Boycottee: Moscow, Russia, USSR, host of 1980 Olympics
But why?: USSR invades Afghanistan in 1979, beats USA by 22 years.
Result: Berlin Wall stays up for nearly another decade. Buh bye Jimmy Carter.
Rating: Sad trombone.
The Boycotter: USSR and its buds, aka Friends of Communism
The Boycottee: Los Angeles, USA, host of the 1984 Olympics
But why?: He started it!
Result: US wins 83 gold medals. Reagan wins reelection. Family friend doesn’t play. IOC tries to figure out how to host games on the moon, where they’ll be safe from nuclear warfare smack talk.
The (would-be) Boycotter: “The White Sox team” according to Chris Sale and Adam Eaton.
The Boycottee: A spring training game against the Milwaukee Brewers? (Not sure how you “boycott” your general manager.)
But why? Beloved teammate turned down 13 million cha-ching and retired after GM Kenny Williams says Adam LaRoche’s teenage son, Drake, can no longer pretend to be MLB player.
Result: Team drama revealed to oblivious public suddenly interested in fourth place team.
Rating: An Adam Dunn at-bat in which he does not homer. A water cooler conversation on the Oscars with Adam Eaton.
The Boycotters: Dayton, St. Louis and Notre Dame college basketball teams.
The Boycottee: Annual Louisiana Christmas basketball tournament known as the Sugar Bowl.
But why? Louisiana passed a mildly inane law banning black and white people from publicly interacting with one another. (Can’t even you guys.)
Result: The tournament carried on after tournament organizers found three southern schools to play the Kentucky Wildcats. No Northern schools were invited back until 1962, three years after Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional.
Rating: Some of y’alls grandparents.
When: Apartheid Era.
The Boycotter: Literally, the world. (International Olympic Committee bans South Africa from the games for 21 years. Rugby and cricket are peer pressured into making a good decision.)
The Boycottee: South African sports teams.
But why? South Africa's apartheid laws institutionalized racism, banning marriage and sex in between Europeans and non-Europeans, required people to carry identification of their race, and made it illegal for people to live anywhere else than their racially segregated neighborhoods.
(may not need to add but here's extra info: In conjunction with the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act of 1953, even black workers who during the day worked in the now residentially white only cities were still required to use different public transportation, post offices, restaurants, schools, and even separate doors, benches, and counters."
Result: Apartheid ends! Then Rugby saves everybody! Or the White Man saves everyone! Wasn’t that the story of Matt Damon in Invictus?
Rating: Whatever precedes the straw the breaks the camel’s back.
The Boycotters: Bear with me: Egypt, Iraq, and Lebanon because Britain and France invade Suez; Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden after USSR invades Hungary; China begins a three decade grudge boycott against the games because Taiwan.
The Boycottee: Melbourne Olympics
But why? You would have had to lived under the Iron Curtain or in the Free World to know the answer. (Or read Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.)
Result: Suez Canal shuts down for six months, emboldens USSR to invade Hungary. USSR occupies Hungary until 1990. China hosts its own Olympics in 2008.
Rating: TFW you wanna play 2K, but the squad wants to play Risk.
The (would-be) Boycotter: Coach Doc Rivers, stars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, and the rest of the Los Angeles Clippers.
The (would-be) Boycottee: Owner Donald Sterling? Other NBA teams? Organized basketball? A playoff game against the Warriors?
But why? Donald Sterling’s instructs his “girlfriend” or girl friend or young female friend not to bring black people to Clipper games. “V.” leaks recording to TMZ. It goes as well as you expected.
Result: Clippers’ black coach holds 45-minute where Clippers’ black stars express anger and frustration at racist owner. They beat the Warriors. (For like the last time ever!) NBA awards Sterling with a lifetime ban and Steve Ballmer now owns the New Lakers.
Rating: Gets the job done.
When: 2010, 2011
The (would-be) Boycotter: MLB players
The (would-be) Boycottee: Chase Field? MLB All-Star Game? Arizona?
But why? Arizona weighs implementing legalizing racial profiling. Also, more than a quarter of MLB players are Latino.
Result: Arizona does not enforce racial profiling implementing. MLB owner’s wife pumps money into #NeverTrump super PAC.
Rating: Getting an out by catching the ball on an infield fly rule.
The Boycotter: University at Buffalo football team
The Boycottee: Tangerine Bowl; Orlando, Florida
But why? Pesky rule by Tangerine Bowl Stadium stadium owner that whites and blacks can’t play together. Also the Bulls have two black players.
Result: Players unanimously decide to reject the bid. Lifelong friendships ensue.
Rating: Not about the glory.
The Boycotter: Missouri State football team.
The Boycottee: Football (practice, games, identity).
But why? After weeks of the university community protesting racial injustice, leaders call for the resignation or firing of president Tim Wolfe. Football team gives up football in ultimatum.
Result: Thirty-six hours later, Wolfe resigns.
Rating: *Slow clap*
The (would-be) Boycotter: The Final Four.
The (would-be) Boycottee: Indiana, the state.
But why? Proponents pass a bill they claim protects religious freedom in Indiana. Opponents say it sanctions discrimination against LGBT people. And the Final Four is happening in its midst.
Result: Okay, honestly it’s a stretch to include the NCAA’s “especially concerned” statement as a suggestion that a boycott was even on the table. But, Hoosier governor Mike Pence signs an amendment effectively undoing the bill a week after signing into law. Also, Indiana wins because they get to keep the Final Four. Also a North Carolina team wins the tourney--and we’re right bak to where we started.
Rating: Pretty damn effective for essentially typing words in an email to reporters.
Stick to sports: In which we stay in our lane.
Joe Lacob wants capitalists to get some respect. This New York Times profile on Steph’s boss offers a, let’s say, interesting riff on the surprisingly weak link between winning and making money in sports.
You can make a lot of money with a bad team, as the N.F.L.’s Washington Redskins have done since 1999, when they were bought by Daniel Snyder. He has been a terrible owner, winning just 43 percent of his games, burning through seven head coaches, never reaching the Super Bowl and stubbornly refusing to change the team’s polarizing name. Yet...the Redskins are the third-highest-grossing team in the N.F.L.; Snyder’s $800 million investment has more than tripled. If the team had public stockholders, they would be giving him a party.
Delay of game: All you can read before the clock expires.
You’ve come a long way, baseball. Jack Moore chronicles MLB’s dalliances with Big Tobacco for Vocativ. It’s a good look at the synergistic relationship baseball once had with the tobacco industry, including the deceptive endorsement of chewing tobacco as a safer alternative to cigarettes. MLB has made some strides forward by implementing tobacco bans in the minor leagues, but the impact remains: 17.4% of male high school athletes use smokeless tobacco, over double the overall adult rate. Baseball’s come a long way, but not far enough.
I mustache you to shave. Some more from Moore: racism coded as sports facial hair bans. Yes, really! Keep reading! Inspired by Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly’s facial hair ban, Moore investigates this hairy past. (Mostly) white folks, asked black athletes with beards and mustaches to shave in the same manner in which talking heads command Cam Newton to stop dancing and Richard Sherman to tone it down.
The late 1960s were a ripe time for these kinds of policies, as activist movements gained steam on college campuses ... they were used as an attempt to emasculate rebellious black athletes, many of whom were beginning to get involved in black campus movements.
According to a 1969 Sports Illustrated feature, Oregon State University head coach Dee Andros considered “sideburns and beards and sandals without socks” to be “dirty, smelly, unappetizing.” Andros, known as “The Great Pumpkin” for the combination of his roly-poly 250-pound frame and Oregon State’s orange colors, said of facial hair, “It ain’t neat. It ain’t athletic.”
NBA Security to Lin: “Do you belong here?” A nice story about the surging Charlotte Hornets opens with an unfortunate anecdote about the NBA’s lone Taiwanese American. Jeremy Lin, without a doubt one of the most famous NBA players in the world, a man that has inspired both books and feature-length documentaries, still needs to show ID to do his job. Says Lin:
“At opposing arenas, it happens all the time. Just the other night in Brooklyn, I was trying to leave [Barclays Center] and one of the ladies was like, 'Hey, I need your credentials for you to pass.' And then someone else was like, 'Oh, he's a player. He's good.' I'm used to it by now. It's just part of being Asian in the NBA."
If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to restoreth my soul with this cut of the undrafted point guard from Harvard annihilating the Spurs.
The MVP on DV. Reigning American League MVP Josh Donaldson remembers his father breaking into the house he lived mother to attack her. His father ultimately went to prison after her for years. “I’m not going to get too colorful with it. But it wasn’t pretty,” Donaldson shared with The Star recently. “The best way I can describe it is I can still remember things from when I was from three to five years old that are very vivid in my mind to this day. And it’s not something I would want anybody else to go through. It not only affects the two people that are involved but it affects children. It definitely has had an effect on me throughout my life
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