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Harris Poll suggests NBA is ‘Too Political’


An early September Harris Poll seemingly proved recent right-wing claims that people are watching less of the NBA due to its political incline. While NBA ratings have spiked recently with the conclusion of two thrilling Game 7s in the first round, this poll returned with 38% of sports fans claiming they are watching fewer games because of the involvement of politics.

The Harris Poll surveyed nearly 2,000 people, giving people 10 options to choose from regarding why they are watching less basketball.

Coming in next was a swift 28% of the vote claiming the NBA was “boring without fans.” Others (19%) claimed the NBA’s association with China caused fans to flip the channel, something that backs up recent claims from U.S. President Donald Trump.

Trump labeled the league a “political organization” in August after players decided to boycott games in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was shot seven times in the back by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Results of the poll don’t necessarily make circumstances crystal clear. Sports, in general, are recovering from a worldwide pandemic, which forced the NBA and others to pivot and create a bubble to hold games, which has kept players and their families safe from the coronavirus.

“While the data shows the league’s political leanings will undoubtedly cause some not to watch, the NBA is balancing the issue of racial injustice, supporting its players and completing a successful finish to the season,” said John Gerzema, the Harris Poll CEO. “The basketball bubble has kept the league immune from cases of (Covid) infection but not immune from the impact politics can have on ratings and public sentiment.”

One thing worth noting is the misconception of what “political” means. The Black Lives Matter movement, the protests for racial equality, and the fight against police brutality are hardly political issues in the normal sense but rather social issues that have been confronted by a government refusing to accept them.

Kneeling for the anthem and boycotting games in solidarity with the myriad Black men and women killed and wounded at the hands of police shouldn’t be political, but it has been turned into that thanks to the authorities’ refusal to acknowledge the palpable oppression of minorities, leaving a predominantly Black league no option but to use its platform.