Mike Matteo: The future of sports hypocrisy

Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

Sports are about winning and to win, you must play the athletes that give your team the best chance to win.  Baseball teams invest millions of dollars in analytics that are used by managers to compare favorable matchups between hitters and pitchers.  In the NBA, players are substituted frequently to take advantage of skill assets of their players and the deficiencies of opposing players.  Teams in the NFL call a variety of different plays, which require specific personnel to execute these plays. No one complains about the lack of diversity in the NHL, where 93% of players identify as white or that the NBA has a league that is 75% black.  Fans don’t care about diversity; they care about wins and losses and this is achieved by the merits and skillsets of the individual players for whom they root.  Despite what social justice warriors say, sports are a meritocracy.

Sports teams are businesses and, despite what liberal college professors or AOC espouse, the goal of all businesses is to maximize profits. To put fans in the stands, a team needs to win more games than it loses.  To win requires scoring more points, goals and runs than the other team does in a majority of the games you play.  Teams in free agency don’t look at the ethnic, racial, religious, sexual orientation or transgender status etc. of the players that they ask to perform on the field or court.  Tom Brady wasn’t the winning quarterback because of anything factor other than he is a future hall of fame QB, team leader and can throw a football better than anyone else on the teams he has played for.

However, social activists often demand that businesses and academic institutions commit to diversity, and many spend a lot of money on diversity training and devise hiring practices that give applicants preference based upon things like race or sex. This includes sports franchises, but this message is contradicted by the product that they put on the diamond, field, court and rink, so I guess it’s ok to be diverse in the hiring of non-playing positions in a sports franchise.

Major League baseball was notoriously racist until Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947.  He faced terrible conditions, but his talent and character helped him rise above the bigotry that he faced and he became one of the best players in the league when he played.  Despite this inarguable fact, MLB never instituted affirmative action policies (which were instituted in businesses, government and academic institutions for decades and quotas (nicely defined as court-ordered staffing ratios) were established in these areas) to ensure that past discrimination was rectified.  Scouting in baseball continued as usual and the best players were signed without regard to skin color of the players.  To my knowledge, no scout ever signed a player because of a quota (court-ordered staffing ratio) for X number of minority players.

Capitalism and sports have one big thing in common: competition. Companies demonstrate winning with their profit and loss statements, while sports teams do it in the standings.  To hire the most diverse teachers, police officers or admission of college students to schools to promote diversity over merit, while teams employ merit to win is hypocritical.

So when athletes (who are paid vast amounts of money to play games) or coaches lecture the average person about social justice or entire leagues commit millions of dollars to it, remember that they conveniently ignore the principles of diversity that they say social justice requires.  How would Lebron James (whose departure from the NBA playoffs led to a rise in their television ratings) feel if he was not allowed to play because his team was required to play a dwarf because there aren’t any dwarfs in the NBA?

Michael Matteo

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