The NBA embraced the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, but not everyone was happy about that. One anonymous NBA agent ripped the league for that decision, telling The Athletic it was “a horrible look for the league.”
The agent made that comment as part of an anonymous survey. The agent said the players were “being manipulated” and that the NBA was “hurting the sport” by embracing Black Lives Matter.
The agent’s full comments read:
“They initially did a great job by putting the bubble together and they completely s--- the bed with all this nonsense. They really hurt the business. … All of this Black Lives Matter stuff. … I think that the players are being manipulated into something that they don’t really understand and I think it’s a horrible look for the league and they need to be very clear about the organization, what they stand for. … If that’s what the NBA wants to align with, they’re really hurting themselves. … They’re not helping the players, they’re hurting the sport. When the ratings are down 30%, who are you helping?”
That comment came in response to the following prompt: “Thoughts on how the NBA handled the bubble/COVID-19.”
Did Black Lives Matter actually hurt the NBA?
The anonymous agent was right about one thing: NBA ratings were down in 2020. Fewer fans tuned in to watch the sport, and that issue was magnified in the NBA Finals.
But blaming that decline on the league embracing Black Lives Matter doesn’t tell the whole story. Nearly every major sport has experienced a ratings decline in 2020. There are a number of reasons for that. The COVID-19 pandemic has people thinking about other things, the upcoming election has taken attention away from sports and some don’t get the same enjoyment out of watching sports without live fans.
On top of that, the NBA faced tougher competition than normal. Game 3 of the NBA Finals, which saw awful ratings, aired at the same time as “Sunday Night Football.” The NBA also had to compete with the MLB playoffs, which wouldn’t happen during a normal NBA season.
It’s possible some fans were turned off by activism in the NBA. It’s also true that some fans were more likely to watch the sport for that exact reason.
Because of that, any argument that tries to equate activism with the NBA’s low ratings isn’t entirely accurate. But as the anonymous agent proves, even those closely associated with the league will amplify that point if they think it confirms their views.
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