The sports world has been outspokenly political over the past few weeks, and this time it’s right-wing sports figures who are stepping out to share their views.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) and star players LeBron James and Stephen Curry were dunked on for supporting the communist Chinese dictatorship, and Monday, Florida Atlantic University head football coach Lane Kiffin joined the mix.
“Florida Atlantic coach Lane Kiffin was fined $5,000 on Sunday for tweeting a meme aimed toward Conference USA referees after the team’s five-point loss to Marshall,” Fox News reported. “Kiffin tweeted a photo depicting blind referees. He tagged the Conference USA official Twitter account.”
Here is the tweet in question, which is still live on Kiffin’s account:
While Kiffin was angry about poor refereeing, he was also upset about what he described as the lack of “freedom to tweet.”
“I just lost $5,000 for a tweet,” Kiffin said. “We have freedom of speech, but I guess around here there’s no such thing as freedom to tweet. Maybe LeBron James will come out and comment about it tomorrow.”
He even appealed to President Donald J. Trump over what he viewed as online censorship:
Sports leagues generally have rules against criticizing referees, and doing so generally leads to financial repercussions, as it did in Kiffin’s case. This is not exactly a “freedom of speech” issue per the First Amendment, but it is interesting to see a prominent sports figure discussing it. Kiffin was formerly the head coach of the Oakland Raiders in the National Football League (NFL).
Kiffin’s reference to James, the NBA all-pro, was a shot at the basketball star who has been caught in the crossfire of the protests for democracy in Hong Kong and his league’s willingness to capitulate to the brutal Chinese dictatorship in Beijing in order to protect its business interests. James, known as a “woke” athlete for his social justice activism, sided with the authoritarian regime over those fighting for freedom in Hong Kong, leading to the exposure of just how much influence China has over American entertainment.
“We do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negatives that come with that too,” James said during the hoopla.
During the controversy, Fox Sports 1’s Jason Whitlock joined Tucker Carlson on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” where he broke down the league’s business interests in China, and noted the hypocrisy of the players who are keen on bashing America, but apparently just fine with authoritarian rule.
“I think the cultural impact that China’s influence over a great sport, great American sport like basketball, is just now being exposed and just how dependent the NBA is on the Chinese economy and the Chinese money to put on the appearance of how great the league is doing. Without the Chinese money and without — you really have to understand the shoe companies, Nike, Adidas, they run American basketball from the high school level all the way to the pros and the shoe companies are dependent on the China market and that’s where all of this is coming from,” Whitlock said.
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