I will come right out of the gate and admit that I hate this idea. Personally I view sports as an escape from the troubles of the real world and I am well past the point of seeing politics injected into every aspect of the sporting world, regardless of which side of the aisle that they come from. Unfortunately the National Basketball Association is contemplating a move that will only serve to make their league all the more political and I would hate to see it come to the National Hockey League.
According to a report from ESPN, a news organization that has seen an incredible decline in viewership ever since it has gone down the route of injecting politics into sport, National Basketball Players Association president Chris Paul has revealed that the players are currently negotiating with the NBA to allow players to replace the names on their jersey with custom messages about social justice or charity.
"We're just trying to continue to shed light on the different social justice issues that guys around our league continue to talk about day in and day out," Paul told ESPN. "People are saying that social justice will be off of everybody's mind in Orlando. With these jerseys, it doesn't go away."
Although I have no doubt that the players genuinely believe in the causes that they are trying to represent, after all why would they be negotiating with the league if the didn't, my issue here stems from the fact that this will only be one more step towards ruining the escapism that sports traditionally provided. When you sit down at home, or at the bar, or even in the arena to take in a sporting event it is extremely easy to forget about the trials and tribulations going on in the world and for many, like myself, that has been a big part of the draw of sports for a very long time.
It is also worth mentioning here that a jersey does not leave a great deal of room for a statement of any kind, and who knows how those statements are going to be interpreted as a result? What if a player has a particularly controversial opinion he wants to share on his jersey? There are so many problems that can arise from something like this that it simply seems like a bad idea all around from my perspective.
I have no doubt I am going to get a lot of pushback on this one so please let me know your thoughts in the comments.