Following the tragic death of George Floyd while in the custody of the Minneapolis police department, corporations and sports teams have been tripping over each other in a game of wokesmanship. Sports commentator and former basketball star Charles Barkley says it’s becoming a “circus.”
Speaking with CNBC’s Power Lunch on Friday, Barkley said sports organizations should focus more on real, tangible issues instead of cheap sloganeering.
“We need police reform, we need prison reform,” he said. “My concern is turning this into a circus instead of trying to do some good stuff.”
Last week, the NBA announced that it would be permitting players to emblazon their jerseys with social justice messages when the shortened season begins in Orlando, Florida. Barkley believes that sports fans should be given a break from that, given the hardships they face from COVID-19.
“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,” he said.
“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. “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.”
The collective losses for two years could be up to $2 billion for the NBA players.
On the issue of kids returning back to school in the fall, Barkley said that he fears prolonged closures would be detrimental to children.
“You’d have to be a fool to think your kids will be safe in school right now,” he said. “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,” he added.
“I just hope we get some adults who know what they are doing and stop screwing around and dividing our country,” he added.
Last month, Charles Barkley condemned the “Defund the Police” movement by praising the many police officers who do a good job.
“We need the cops, most of the cops do a fantastic job, but instead of defunding and all this other stuff, let’s just do police reform. Everybody should be on board for that whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, conservative or liberal,” he said.
“The Democrats and the Republicans can’t even talk about police reform,” he continued. “That’s the number one thing they should do before they do anything else. That’s something we have been talking about since [former NFL quarterback Colin] Kaepernick kneeled, and these clowns in the Democratic Party and Republican Party, that’s the number one thing they should do before they do anything else.”