Ethics Quote Of The Week: Seattle Seahawks Defensive End Michael Bennett

“Of course I think he’s been blackballed, obviously. Maybe the players agree that there’s a place for politics in sports, but I don’t think the teams, or the organization, or even the fans believe there’s a place for politics in sports. I think people want you to do your job and shut up — score a touchdown, dunk a basketball, hit a home run and call it a day. We’ll buy your jersey, and that’s it.”

—-Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, speaking about the current fate of ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who remains unsigned after spending much of last season refusing to stand for the National Anthem because the United States “oppresses black people and people of color.”  Bennett’s comments came during an event at the artsy social justice warrior hang-out Busboys and Poets in Washington, D.C.

It’s an admittedly perverse selection for the ethics quote designation, since Bennett meant the statement as criticism. He went on to say that he endorses professional athletes taking pubic stands on social issues to “inspire others” to engage in  mass action and demonstration. The 31-year-old defensive end, who makes about 10 million dollars a year, drew attention to himself in February when he opted out of an Israeli-government-sponsored trip to register his pro-Palestinian views, as if he actually knows enough the 80-year-old conflict to intelligently protest anything. This is about par for the course in the field of professional athlete off-the-field grandstanding.

Bennett was correct in his rueful description of the state of the culture, however. There is no place for politics in sport. Sport is entertainment, and fans follow sports to escape real world problems, not to be lectured on them by pseudo-educated celebrities with neither the training, skills or expertise to justify the giant megaphone celebrity affords them. Kaepernick’s stunt created a media circus around his struggling team, the San Francisco 49’ers, distracted its management fans and players, and cost the NFL viewers and advertising revenues. Since he was unable to articulate an intelligent rationale for his protest, it was also useless. Naturally, Kaepernick was cheered by the Left, and defended by many journalists as well as athletes who think their physical gifts should entitle them to social influence they don’t deserve.

If Kaepernick was the star performer many thought he would be a few seasons ago, The King’s Pass would have acquired a multi-million dollar contract by now. But now  Kaepernick is just not good enough for any team to be able to justify signing someone who can’t be trusted not to put his own need for attention above the welfare of his employer, team, fellow players and sport.  Revealingly, once his employment prospects started looking dicey, he announced that he no longer will “take a knee” during the anthem, but will stand, because he believes there has been positive change in America and doesn’t want to detract from that.  Wait..what exactly has been the great change in the nation since January that makes him believe it’s a respectable place now when it wasn’t before?

Here’s the great change: now he’s out of a job.

If he is going to be a virtue-signalling blow-hard, at least he could show integrity regarding his alleges cause. Kaepernick is the perfect example of why the less heard from pro athletes about their views on the issues of the day, the better, and why Bennett’s quote describes the situation as it is and ought to be.

33 Comments

Filed under Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Race, Rights, Sports, U.S. Society, Workplace

33 responses to “Ethics Quote Of The Week: Seattle Seahawks Defensive End Michael Bennett

  1. Cynical John

    I feel the same way about movie stars and other celebrities.

    • Good. It’s exactly the same thing.

      • Matthew B

        Unfortunately Hollywood and the music industry (except country) is able to get away with it more. If they piss off a portion of the potential audience, it hurts but they’re still making insane amounts of money.

        Football’s problem is that their fan base definitely leans much more rightward than the country. Far too many of the fans there will flee from left leaning politics so it huts them more.

  2. Well said. It appears karma isn’t dead afterall.

  3. Sam

    Jack, would you mind giving some input on the Charlie gard case in the UK. Here’s a link
    To introduce the topic https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/12/charlie-gard-legal-aid.
    It’s quite complicated ethically and I don’t have the legal knowledge to decide whether the doctors could refuse care. If the parents decide to keep the child on life support.
    Sorry if this is kind of spammy or off topic.
    Just this is my go to place to understand complicated topics like this.

  4. I find myself in a moral dilemma regarding the Kaepernick situation. This mostly has to do with my moral concern regarding my respect for the national anthem and his right to free speech (both of which I strongly support). I understand that the United States has a tainted past and it is more difficult for some than others. However, the national anthem should be treated with respect in the same way the President deserves respect. It isn’t really the man, it’s the office. It isn’t really the song, it’s an idea, a dream, a chance you won’t find somewhere else.

    If Kaepernick believes his position so strongly, I think he is morally obligated to take a stand. However, since I think he is wrong, he should just sit down (or in this case stand up). Though I am no expert it seems he is ethically wrong to abuse his position as a football player to do so. Not because he can’t form a coherent argument into why he believes what he believes (any idiot is entitled to his opinion) or because he is a celebrity and has the ability to influence the mindless masses (though that is also wrong) or because he has special insight (he doesn’t), but because by taking a stand during the game he brought his employer and his fans into a situation that had nothing to do with his job.

    To me (correct me if I’m wrong) this is not much different than what the cast of Hamilton did. If Kaepernick could take a political stand in the middle of his job, why not a cast of a play, or an airline pilot? To his credit, he did put some of his money where his mouth was, but I think if he really cared he would be doing a lot more. I understand playing football is very demanding (like most sports), but I suspect he is now going to have a lot of time on his hands. I also suspect that once he no longer has a spotlight most of his concern (and money) will go away.

    An ethical and moral person does what’s right regardless of time and situation (Lawerance Kohlberg would go a step farther and call them a principled person). I feel Kaepernick (and many SJWs) are more like the Pharisees found in the Bible. I hope Kaepernick proves me wrong.

    • It’s exactly like what the cast of Hamilton did, except that it was passive, less intrusive, and repeated. Now, if he had knealt on Mile Pence before a game, it would be exactly like “Hamilton.”

  5. Steve-O-in-NJ

    Kaepernick is no more principled than most other grandstanding idiots in any field of entertainment. I’m actually friends with a budding pop artist, and she freely admits that she is going to occasionally deliberately act outrageously to generate attention and hopefully publicity, even though she doesn’t believe half of what she would be doing or saying. It’s all about the attention, which is sometimes worth a lot more than the talent.

    In Kaepernick’s case it was probably worth quite a bit, given his record for this season, but, if the 49ers had cut him or released him sooner, it would have looked like they were going after him because of his views, and caused a bigger PR headache than what he was already causing them. It’s frankly no different than John Murtha suddenly becoming the Iraq War’s most principled opponent after the authorities started looking at him for steering government work to his brother. Suddenly anyone leaning on him looked like a pro-war fascist leaning on someone who just trying to make a more peaceful world.

    Grandstanding for any cause is typically either attention whoring or attempting to distract the audience from something damaging. Kaepernick was both. Good riddance to him. Hey, Krappernick, the 70s called, they want their hair back!

  6. Spartan

    “Sport is entertainment, and fans follow sports to escape real world problems, not to be lectured on them by pseudo-educated celebrities with neither the training, skills or expertise to justify the giant megaphone celebrity affords them.”

    Bit of an elitist statement, don’t you think? There are hundreds of thousands of people who participate in marches, protest, call their Congressmen, speak before school boards, and generally get engaged. It’s not for me or you to determine if they should based on their “training, skills, or expertise.”

    • Not what I said. Athletes and celebrities have out-of-proportion influence in their opinions. They distort public opinion through cognitive dissonance: that’s why they sell themselves to say products are great whether they are or not. They are not endowed with special wisdom or expertise outside of their chosen fields. They are citizens, and they can march with everyone else—as citizens, apart from their occupations that make them famous…not at the Golden Globes, not on the playing field, not at podiums, not testifying before Congress unless it’s about their sport of working conditions on the set. Being an activist requires competence and responsibility like anything else.

      • Spartan

        I don’t agree. Regardless of someone’s occupation, they have the right to shout it loudly from the rooftops. And if they have a megaphone because of their stardom (e.g., Trump) then so what? It is up to us — the people who are hearing the message — to decide whether or not that person has “special wisdom or expertise.” But complaining about the speaker’s popularity smacks of jealousy; much like the understudy who resents the lead actor every night because she thinks her acting is superior, but no one will know that until she is given the spotlight.

        • It’s irresponsible. They can use an oversize megaphone, but then their uninformed opinion does outlandish damage. Kaepernick’s uninformed, never articulately argued annoyed spectators across the country, gave impetus to a racist, divisive, dishonest organization, and cost the NFL dollars and fans—and accomplished nothing good whatsoever. Moreover, they are misappropriating the workplace and entertainment forums.

          • Spartan

            But EVERY opinion is wildly embraced by some and deemed uninformed by others. The truth is that just about every belief is deeply polarizing these days. You can find political scholars on both sides of every debate — so what if you find celebrities there as well?

    • Chris

      Spartan, I’m surprised you didn’t highlight this statement, which also struck me as elitist:

      The 31-year-old defensive end, who makes about 10 million dollars a year, drew attention to himself in February when he opted out of an Israeli-government-sponsored trip to register his pro-Palestinian views, as if he actually knows enough the 80-year-old conflict to intelligently protest anything.

      I don’t agree with his choice to boycott Israel, but I have no idea whether he knows enough about it to intelligently protest, and neither do you, Jack.

      • Sure I do. Because the position supporting Palestine is ahistorical. If you support Palestine and villify Israel, one is by definition uninformed. When the Palestinians officially concede Israel’s right to exist, then there will be some basis for discussion.

  7. dragin_dragon

    This is almost certainly an apocryphal story, but it is said that Jerry Jones walked into a team meeting prior to a Cowboys practice. He told the players that they had every right to express themselves as Kaepernick did and that if they wished to take a knee in support, they could certainly do so. But, he went on, those uniforms you’re wearing belong to me, and you will not take a knee while you’re wearing it.

    This sounds like something he’d do, but it’s unlikely in the extreme. Still, no Cowboy ever took a knee, did they?

    • Chris

      I’m not sure the owner has any right to give such an order. Is it in their contract that the players stand for the national anthem?

      • Football teams, like universities, have codes of conduct.

      • Steve-O-in-NJ

        It’s a private organization and they are on the clock at games, representing the organization. As head of the organization he can decide how he wants the organization represented while his employees are on the clock.

      • Eternal Optometrist

        There’s nothing in writing that says I can’t take a shit on my boss’s desk. And I am certainly capable of doing so. Doesn’t mean that there won’t be ramifications.

      • They have general conduct clauses. Can’t embarrass the team, etc. Moreover, this is a workplace. Any employer is within his rights to ban politicking in a place of work. The NBA has a clause requiring standing for the anthem as a condition of employment.

        This isn’t hard. The NFL or the team could have stopped Kaepernick, but didn’t have the guts to risk confronting an overwhelmingly black group of players, so they pandered to BLM.

        • As well as the ever present clause in a lot of contracts “and perform other duties as directed” to ensure that you understand your role as a team player isn’t limited to a pharisaic reading of what you think your job description means.

          • dragin_dragon

            Awful lot of argument over what is a hypothetical event. I DID mention that this story was highly unlikely, didn’t I? Happy Easter, all.

  8. Other Bill

    The observation by Mr. Bennett is stunningly astute.

  9. Two Words: Jackie Robinson

    • But the whole point was that Jackie was playing because he was a great player, not because he was black; and Robinson made no political statements on the field ever, especially that year, when it would have undermined everything he stood for. When he did speak out, it was about civil rights, on which he had impeccable credentials.

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