Modern Athletes Are Not Paid to Speak–or Think?


Rashard Mendenhall recently committed the ultimate sin of an athlete or entertainer: thinking or asking others to think. Mendenhall has come under fire for his Twitter question which was: “What kind of person celebrates death? It is amazing how many people can hate a man they have not even heard speak.”
Mendenhall is not supporting Bin Laden nor is he supporting death. What he has chosen to do, in this free and democratic country of ours, is ask people to think. It is admirable that a person whose profession is a violent one, seems to be professing anti-hate sentiments and anti-death sentiments.
Who cares that team owner Rooney distanced himself from Mendenhall’s comments. Rooney is only interested in the bottom-line–money.  His response to Mendenhall was weird and failed to capture the intensity of Mr. Mendenhall’s comments.  Mendenhall never tied Rooney or the Steelers directly to his call to urge folk to remain critical thinkers.
What is clear to me, and hopefully soon to others, is how spin masters (PR folk and media) try to control the thoughts and words of athletes when it suits their business interests.
The knee-jerk response to Mr. Mendenhall  proves my point in Ballers of the New School: Race and Sports in America (TWP) that athletes are constantly urged to be apolitical, and are controlled more than they were 30 years ago. Who decides what is politically correct? Whose moral or intellectual compass placed Mendenhall’s thoughts out of bounds?  Who empowered themselves to throw a penalty flag in his direction?

What crime has he committed?  Who did his comments offend?  What is wrong with urging people not to celebrate death.  One hour ago on Patrick Oliver’s radio show, “Literary Nation” I broached this argument. Prove to me that it bad or a crime to urge people not to celebrate death, and I will happily lock myself up.

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