By some estimates, VDH informs NRO readers, the NBA’s varied Chinese markets will hit $6+ billion in profits. That’s not surprising, given the basketball league’s 1.4 billion new potential Chinese customers.
(The NBA’s) basic message for young consumers is that you can hate the man and still wear $400 sneakers — the same way that you can wear a jersey with an edgy logo during the game and then retire at night into your Malibu compound. In the spirit of medieval indulgences, paid to help the sinner enter heaven, the more that the players become corporate cut-out pitchmen, the more they voice left-wing boilerplate to square the circle of being privileged rich people who nonetheless cling to street cred for the sake of advertising.
30 Years of NBA Double Dealing
It may come to a head this fall, when the league will soon deal with some players’ plans to kneel during the national anthem next season. The NBA has approved of individual players wearing politicized slogans on their jerseys — politicized in the sense of trashing the U.S., but not offering an ill word about Chinese Communist atrocities. The message is, “Ridicule your own democracy all you want, but censor your incorrect thoughts about racist and totalitarian China.”
Multimillionaires Trashing Flag, Country, Anthem
In other words, the NBA and lots of its players are both athletes and social activists — but with very selective agendas, given that the league is as critical of America as it is silent about China’s monstrous behavior. During the COVID-19 epidemic, few NBA players noted that Chinese businesses were turning away African students and workers, as the government singled them out for forced COVID-19 testing.
NBA Diversity a Taboo Subject
Despite all the virtue-signaling about diversity, the league, like the NFL, is one of the most nondiverse institutions in America.
Of its 30 owners, only three are nonwhite. Yet over 75 percent of the players are black, raising the quandary of who are the most non-diverse — the athletes or the owners?
The Nonsense of Diversity in America
Latinos and Asians represent as a group 20% of the U.S. population. Yet Latino players represent only 1.8% of the NBA league athletes, and Asian players less than 1%.
Under our campus and government guidelines, for example, something is terribly wrong, and someone needs to do something about these volatile asymmetries.
Average NBA Player – $8 M/Year.
The average NBA player makes $8 million a year, and, for example, LeBron James, a star player, is worth over $450 million, continues VDH.
The NBA is one of the most elite, exclusive, and coveted professions in America, where players de facto become multimillionaire celebrities — on the theory that pure merit, not race, determines who wins these most-sought-after billets. Again, that is nearly the opposite mindset from that of an Asian-American straight-A, 800-SAT student assuming that by merit she should get into Yale, and thereby “overrepresent” her race in the Ivy League, at the “expense” of other “excluded” groups.
The NBA Does Not Look Like America
With a nod, the NBA’s mostly white owners indicate that something needs to be done about the owner imbalance. Yet, who would dare accuse the progressive players of not caring much for the progressive admonition of “looking like America.”
Anti-Americanism Athletes China’s Useful Idiots
Wokeness has lost some market share inside the U.S., but such perceived anti-Americanism helps to win it back — and more — in China. Beijing, of course, sees anti-American-sounding American athletes as high-profile useful idiots — a fact no doubt known to the receptive players and coaches of the NBA who willingly and sincerely play their parts.
Domestic Attendance/Viewership Flat
No wonder the NBA is so secretive and defensive about its China hypocrisies. The league’s domestic attendance and viewership are now flat. Its various affiliated TV audiences last year dived. TNT’s NBA viewership dropped 22 percent; ESPN, 19 percent.
… if the league wishes to remain politicized, with a leftish message at odds with half of America, and if both the ownership and the players hardly wish to reflect the rich diversity of America, it can seek to find greater audience share — in fact, much greater — elsewhere in China.
The Chinese themselves are invested in racial chauvinism, not the cultural tapestry of diversity.
But most of all, they are harsh belt-and-road paymasters who demand a Faustian bargain from all they make rich in the short term. The story of Chinese courting of American industries over the last half-century is that China lures them in with promises of big money, partners with them, rigs the arrangement, xeroxes their expertise, dumps their partners, and then absorbs their markets.
In other words, VDH reminds readers, “NBA China may make the league money now. But we are in a new COVID-19 world, where no one believes that China will democratize once it gets rich enough, and China itself has mostly given up on hiding its own agendas.”
For more from Mr. Hanson, read, “Is the NFL in Deep Crisis.”