Once again, only some political stances are acceptable in professional sports.
As the professional sports leagues continue with their insistence on social activism in their stadiums and arenas, it is apparent theirs is a targeted agenda. In seeming resistance to the fans who are turning away from the political posturing, they continue to lecture on certain subjects while stating firmly others are not permitted. As has now been proven, President Donald Trump is completely off-limits.
Going beyond what will be allowed on the field, the Carolina Panthers have shown an even wider level of football intolerance. After a series of commands directed at one of its Spanish language broadcasters, they have decided to not renew his contract over his political opinions, namely his outward support of President Trump. It is not only a contradiction of the social messaging demanded of the fans to support, it is a creeping mandate into the personal lives of others.
Luis Moreno Jr. is a longtime and popular commentator on Spanish-language radio who covered games for the Carolina Panthers. The Mexican immigrant, who came to this country as a teenager has, at the age of 42, become a naturalized citizen as of last month, and is a proud backer of the President. During his downtime this spring due to the pandemic, Moreno became more politically active and this was reflected in his private social media accounts.
At some point, Moreno was contacted by management and told that the organization requested that he remove the team name from his social media accounts. Moreno complied, even though he was technically an independent contractor and did not work directly for the Carolina Panthers. When contacted a second time about his postings, he was told that team management requested to speak with him, though he made it clear he had no intention of curtailing his messaging.
Meet Jaime Moreno who turned South America into Panthers fans
— Al-haji Ismail (@Alfaenshe) October 12, 2019
That discussion with the VP of Communications for the Panthers never took place. His position was replaced with a Mexico-based broadcaster. The more revealing aspect is that for 10 years, Moreno shared the broadcasts with his uncle, Jaime Moreno. The two have differing views on things, a component that was said to make their broadcasts even more compelling. Though less outspoken Jaime is politically different than his nephew, something Moreno Jr. is fine about. ”We’re not fighting or anything. We just didn’t see eye to eye,’’ he says of his uncle. ”I was aware that when there was backlash, it was something that I was going to have to do on my own.’’
This is just one of the ways the NFL, and the other professional sports leagues, have displayed how they are veering off course. The controversies which have reared up over the past 5 years have to do not with players becoming political but with dragging politics onto the sporting stage itself. Fans can choose to listen or not listen to speech in the post-game setting, or during the week.
When the politics are dragged into the live broadcasts — displayed at game time and even painted onto the fields and courts — the agnostic fan has only the choice to not watch the games themselves. A player off the field is entitled to all the expressions they desire, like any citizen. But the leagues insist on sending out their message in the game format and — like in this case with Moreno Jr. — there seems intolerance towards private opinions which differ.
“I’m hurt,” Moreno Jr. says, “because this has nothing to do with my performance on-air. None of my support for the president was done on any of their social-media pages, it was never done on any of the airtime — whether it was a podcast or a broadcast or anything related to the Panthers. This was solely on my personal time on my personal accounts.”
This typifies how wrong-headed so much of this woke activism in sports has become. The leagues have stridently declared that players and management have a right to expression, trending close to the point of demanding their views be respected and accepted. Yet, as they display this in the playing boundaries to the dismay of many, those who choose to have differing views on the matters are not granted this same decency. Even when conducted on private accounts and areas apart from the arenas there are commands and criticisms at times.
The NBA will allow activist terms on their jerseys, but only those with league approval. The NFL supports kneeling for the national anthem but Drew Brees was cowed into apologizing for wanting to stand up for the flag. In baseball, players have had to answer media interrogations when they elected to not kneel during the national anthem. We have had years of being told Colin Kaepernick is an athletic voice to be listened to, yet those same supporters were vocal in criticizing Herschel Walker for his support of President Trump.
Now, when a broadcaster is expressing views on his private accounts, a team sees a need to sever ties. To his credit, Moreno Jr. did not back down from the edicts of the franchise. ”I am not OK with them censoring my freedom of speech in support of the president.’’ The newly christened citizen is very excited to be able to vote for the first time. His enthusiasm to cast a vote for President Trump has not been diminished.