Ben Shapiro Says Politics Has Ruined Sports for Him

Conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro has criticized American sports for being overly political.

Suggesting some of the players' outspoken views were putting fans off, he claimed the landscape of U.S. sports may eventually end up consisting of just two leagues.

"It [Players speaking out on social issues] does make me wonder whether, inevitably, we are going to end up with two sports leagues," he said during the Ben Shapiro Show on Monday.

"Whether at some point people are going to want a sport league that does not allow this sort of stuff [political views] to impede the play or get on the field and people are just gonna view that."

Explaining he had been "fairly tolerant in terms of watching sports in my entire life", Shapiro said Colin Kaepernick's protests were the only incident which he felt forced him to stop watching sports. He also ditched his Sports Illustrated subscription after the magazine put Kendall Jenner on its cover.

Kaepernick became a global icon in 2016, when he first refused to kneel for the national anthem to raise awareness of police brutality and racial discrimination.

The gesture split public opinion and swiftly became a political drum that President Donald Trump has banged relentlessly in the intervening four years.

Shapiro suggested a similar scenario could repeat itself, now that players across the four main U.S. leagues have been vocal in demanding justice in the wake of George Floyd's death.

"I'm tempted to do the same with the NBA now that you have LeBron James, who is basically willing to virtue-signal on behalf of the communist Chinese government but rip Drew Brees [to pieces]," he continued.

"It's getting to the point where I don't want to watch sports. My place of comfort has been removed from me and it may not be restored until there are actual sports leagues that remove politics from the sports."

Ben Shapiro is mad that he can't watch sports anymore because there's too much "politics" in it: "My place of comfort has been removed from me" pic.twitter.com/Y73ZfTRHvf

— Jason Campbell (@JasonSCampbell) June 8, 2020

The NBA world has been unanimous in demanding justice and condemning police brutality, with Michael Jordan, LeBron James and his Los Angeles Lakers teammates, and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban all speaking out.

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr and his Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs counterparts Dwane Casey and Gregg Popovich have all also made their voices heard.

Former NBA journeyman Stephen Jackson has also been a prominent figure during the protests, which have been attended by a number of players.

The NFL has witnessed a similar scenario. Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Lawrence, Houston Texans star J.J. Watt, Cleveland Browns star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill have all spoken out against police brutality.

Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores has also added his voice to the chorus, while Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis made clear he would support a fresh set of protests by NFL players.

On Sunday, Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, general manager Thomas Dimitroff and members of the team joined a peaceful demonstration in Atlanta. Denver Broncos players also joined the protests.

On Friday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell released a video in which he condemned racism and acknowledged the league had not done enough to heed black players' calls for justice.

"We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people," Goodell said.

"We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all players to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the National Football League, believe that black lives matter."

Brees, who Shapiro directly referenced, caused a storm on Wednesday when he claimed that he would "never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America".

The New Orleans Saints quarterback swiftly backtracked after facing a huge backlash, including from some of his own teammates, and vowed to "do better" and listen to the voices calling for change.

Denver Broncos, NFL
Denver Broncos players raise their fists in the air as they join thousands of people protesting the death of George Floyd on June 6 in Denver, Colorado. This is the 12th day of protests since George Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody on May 25. Michael Ciaglo/Getty