Ratto: It may be time to play the ace

After talking the talk players, coaches and teams can now consider walking the walk

Ray Ratto
June 01, 2020 - 8:59 pm

Now that it's been made clear what Donald Trump thinks of Americans not directly beholden to him, it may be time for a proportionate response — at least from the sports figures he claims to revere so much in his ongoing attempt to mollify the masses.

In short, how about not playing?

Maybe the athletes should choose not to join in as sports restart — if they restart at all. Maybe they shouldn't go to rushed practice sessions or late summer training camps or even bother with the rescheduled games. And if they are rescheduled, maybe it is time for the players, many of whom have been targeted as a class specifically by the most fascist-minded among us, the players should simply say no. This is their moment, this is their cause. Long-held athletic dreams may simply have to be deferred for the good of the nation.

In other words, this is an excellent moment for players and coaches and teams who have almost all talked the talk to consider walking the walk. Of course, we exempt Jim Dolan of the New York Knicks and Rangers here only insofar as he has put out no statement in reference to George Floyd, or the new newest version of same, David McAtee, who was killed by police Monday morning in Louisville. because that's so very Dolan of him.

As for the rest, who have either donated money, time or media releases to the cause, it may be time to raise. To use a singular example, this is an excellent time for LeBron James, who rarely misses a cause that requires comment and support, to say that he isn't in the mood to dance for us. Or for Patrick Mahomes to say he hasn't the time to make you go "ahhhh" or your bet to cash.

It takes a fair amount of effrontery for someone whose livelihood is not athletic to so blithely tell others what to do with theirs, but the nation is shouting out that the old normal is now extinct, and that the new normal is intolerable. In such an environment, sports seems like a ridiculous joke.

Consider it a general strike by our amusements. The millions of people who have yammered incessantly about how much they need sports could use a bit of clapback, namely, "If you need us so badly, why do you try to crush us so?" It seems a timely message to send the oaf in Washington and the billionaires who have donated to his campaigns: "We are no longer fighting over a number of games or a pro-rated salary. We are saying no to a country that is saying no to us and our children."

This is clearly an individual question for each athlete, but it is one whose time has come to be asked, along with who should be entertaining and who should be entertained. Maybe the answer is that the athletes need sports too, but the time has come for them to ask themselves why they need it and what the true benefit is. If the answer begins and ends at "money," then that's an awfully low price to put on one's dignity.

Then again, dignity has joined toilet paper and hand sanitizer as being in very short supply these days. It may be time finally to reassess, both as purveyors and consumers, what we are willing to pay for and how much we are willing to pay.

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