NBA great Charles Barkley weighed in on the social justice battle in America in an interview with CNBC Friday. A guest on “Power Lunch,” Barkley admitted “we need police reform, we need prison reform” but “my concern is turning this into a circus instead of trying to do some good stuff.” A dangerous circus is exactly what it has become.
Notice Barkley did not call to defund the police. He used the word “reform” which indicates the pursuit of making things better; improving our systems. Barkley’s interview comes after the NBA announced last week that players in Orland will be able to wear messages of social justice on their jerseys. “Phrases consist of everything from ‘Black Lives Matter,’ to ‘Equality,’ to ‘How many more?” reported CNBC.
Having a different perspective on the purpose of sports, being a famous MVP athlete himself, Barkley said fans need a break from reality: “The last thing they want to do is turn on the television and hear arguments all the time. It’s going to be very interesting to see how the public reacts.”
While wearing messages on players’ jerseys are optional, CNBC says its likely majority of players will participate. Barkley’s concern for public reaction rests upon the fact that hundreds of thousands of people are suffering from COVID-19, job losses, and economic uncertainty.
When asked about whether children should return to school in the fall, Barkley said, “you’d have to be a fool to think your kids will be safe in school right now.” However, he discusses the lack of education could further the divide of children who come from rich or poor families. “A lot of kids who are at home don’t have access to the internet. That really makes the gap between the rich and poor even more so. This is a critical time in our country” Barkley added.
Despite his concern for sports being more concerned with kneeling, anthems, or phrases on jerseys, Barkley does want the NBA season to go on. Despite a reported soar in coronavirus cases as NBA teams arrived in Orlando this week, Barkley is supportive of the NBA’s “re-start” plan where 22-teams will compete in the “Orlando bubble.”
“I think you’d have to be foolish to think we could go that whole three months without getting positive tests, but I think we are all flying in the dark right now and I don’t think anybody knows what’s going to happen,” he said. Barkley said if the season were canceled, the economic devastation would be drastic and could cost players roughly $2 billion over the next couple of years. “That’s a lot of money for these players…and they can put it back in their community. So, I think that’s the main reason to play” he said.
That sentiment is exactly what we the people are saying: let us keep our jobs and allow businesses to remain open continue to support our communities. Unfortunately, we have zero power without the billions of dollars and public displays of social justice rhetoric on our shirts.