NBA to allow players to substitute "social justice messages" for their names on jerseys

Personalized jerseys could say such things as “Black Lives Matter” or “I Can’t Breathe,” bring light to a social or charitable cause or even display the names of George Floyd or Breonna Taylor, who were killed by police in recent months.

Here’s my question. Can the personalized jerseys say “Blue Lives Matter”? How about “End Capitalism”, “Abortion Stops a Beating Heart”, “De-fund the Military”, or “Return to the Gold Standard”? If not, I’m agin’ it. If you’re allowed to express a certain narrow set of political expressions or else just support an anodyne charity, that’s not free speech.

And I’m troubled by reports I heard on a Slate podcast that one (white) WPSL player who continued to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance was browbeaten for doing so. FWIW, I always refused to stand for the Pledge in high school (my issue is the “Under God” bit), and took a lot of heat for it. My five year old son, on his own initiative, balked at the Pledge (which he called a “prayer”) when he started kindergarten, and I could not have possibly been bursting with more pride as his father. But I don’t like to see people bullied into conformity in either direction.

Not only is it just plain wrong to deny people the right to have their own opinions about things, as John Stuart Mill so beautifully put it in the 19th century, when you make any particular form of expression de rigueur,

there is a progressive tendency to forget all of the belief except the formularies, or to give it a dull and torpid assent, as if accepting it on trust dispensed with the necessity of realizing it in consciousness, or testing it by personal experience; until it almost ceases to connect itself at all with the inner life of the human being.

You know the NBA is only going to allow certain expressions of wokeness with the condition that China has final say.

You’d prefer Russia?

Criticizing someone for standing for the Pledge sounds like criticizing Kaepernick for kneeling during the anthem, just in reverse.

Presumably, they’d draw the line at hate speech, but I bet they will allow anti-abortion or pro-police messages, if anyone chooses to use one. “Abortion stops a beating heart” might not work simply on practical grounds of length (fit that on a jersey, and it’s going to be awfully tough to read), but I’m sure there are other anti-abortion sayings that would work.

#FetalLivesMatter would fit.

Fair point. “Abortion is Murder”? (Or what about “Meat is Murder” for the vegan/PETA crowd?)

Of course it has nothing to do with free speech. It’s marketing for the NBA.

I feel like not all of these fall under the umbrella of ‘social justice messages’.

So they can put political messages on their jerseys, but only within a certain prescribed part of the political spectrum? And that seems okay to you? Again, I don’t like this kind of selective standard even if it ostensibly benefits “my side”.

Wouldnt it make it hard to figure out who is who? What if several people wanted to have the same “name”? Could there be copyright issues?

¿They’d still have numbers, verdad?

Inasmuch as they are political, yes.

Because, as I’ve been saying for so long, fighting bigotry shouldn’t be seen as a partisan issue, but the one thing both sides agree on.

And that is what social justice is–fighting against bigotry. Any anti-bigotry message is a social justice message.

Though don’t expect them to be able to get false messages on there, like those from white supremacist organizations. They don’t have to be 100% content neutral.

Where did say it was okay with me?

Inevitably, some player if going to want his shirt to say “14 words”. If it isn’t a white supremacist, it’ll be some wiseass.

Meat Is Murder
Meat Is Murder Jr
Meat Is Murder III

My understanding was that NBA players had a choice of a few dozen approved messages to wear for the first few days back. They could choose to keep using a message, along with their name, if they wished.

One assumes most of the athletes and many of the fans would agree with most of the messages. Since choice is restricted, players probably cannot express their love of capitalism, dislike of coronaviridae, or many other ideas.

Wow! This seems much more reasonable than the hypothetical horror stories that the OP was concerned about.

The messages IIRC included BLM, Justice, Peace, a Spanish slogan, Freedom, etc. The most (potentially) acrimonious one I saw was “I can’t breathe”. None of the choices was crazy. The players can’t just choose whatever they want, and after four days individually decide if they want any message. I suspect most will.

One thing that’s troublesome is that there is an actual organization called Black Lives Matter, and there is just the sentiment. Hard for any decent person to oppose the latter, but there are plenty of reasons to oppose the former. And if players are able to express support for them, others should be able to express opposition to them.