Jason Whitlock has never voted. As a rising journalist reporting sports, he never wanted his writing to be critiqued through a political lens. As praiseworthy as this ambition is, it was a standard he couldn’t quite keep.
In June 2018, Whitlock, a former ESPN journalist and the first sports writer to ever receive the National Journalism Award for Commentary, sat down with podcast host and Daily Wire Editor Emeritus Ben Shapiro to discuss the racial unrest sweeping across America, NFL protests, police brutality, and the media’s encroaching agenda on sports.
Two years later, the sad truth is nothing has changed. Maybe it’s actually time we listen to what the acclaimed journalist has to say.
Whitlock’s perspective isn’t a radical one. “I just have a working class point of view,” Whitlock told Shapiro.
“I think there’s a lot of people that get involved in the media and think and try to pretend like they’re representing the point of view of the under class or the lower class or the working class, and they’re really just representing the view of the elite,” he said. “And this particularly is acute with black journalists. So many of them really come from the upper class, that they don’t really know how to represent people from the lower class or from the ghetto or the disadvantaged.”
This isn’t the case for Whitlock, who is black and who grew up under the example of two working parents, only one of whom graduated from high school. Together they showed him the value of personal responsibility and hard work, which has now shaped the way he views sports, politics, and life.
In addition to these attributes that were instilled in him through his upbringing, Whitlock said, “football has shaped my values, and sports has shaped my values.”
“If you understand anything that’s preached in sports in any team environment,” Whitlock explained, “if there’s a problem on the team — don’t look outside the locker room. ‘We must fix our problems right here within this locker room.’ Don’t blame the refs, don’t blame fans for not showing up, don’t blame ‘they cheated,’ or whatever. ‘Right here, we’re going to fix our problems.’”
According to Whitlock, this “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” mentality unfortunately isn’t understood completely by many players who advocate for social justice causes.
“Where’s all this victimhood coming from?” he asked.
Instead of cultivating change through emotions, Whitlock said we need to focus on supporting cultural changes if we want to see progress for black Americans, particularly in regard to criminal justice.
“I understand how this happens,” Whitlock told Shapiro. “And it’s not really about police brutality.”
Whitlock is speaking from personal experience, as he had a close cousin killed in Indianapolis.
He believes that “the destruction of the family is causing much of this chaos.” Whitlock is convinced that single motherhood is not just a correlation between crime rates, but a causation.
“The first policeman that a child should deal with, and is supposed to deal with, are his two parents,” emphasized Whitlock.
“They’re supposed to police their children. And so if you find yourself in a culture where there aren’t two policemen called mom and dad, and your children are running out unsupervised into America and now, ‘Oh these policemen, who didn’t sign up to be their parents, aren’t treating them the way we want them to be treated.’ Well, the first abuse is the lack of parenting,” he maintained.
“That’s the issue,” affirmed Whitlock. “We have a culture as African Americans where single motherhood is prevalent — it’s 75% of our kids.”
Whitlock blames the media for misleading the public toward emotional-driven activism instead of factual-based solutions. Shapiro agreed his frustration is not unwarranted.
It’s an “obvious issue that has to be addressed,” observed Whitlock.
“If we want, as black people, to move forward, and if we want our society to move forward, with black people, we have to address this issue,” he stressed.
The media has their own agenda — orchestrated and influential, the sports writer stated. The claim that black men are disproportionately killed “doesn’t factually hold up to statistics.”
“There are plenty of examples of the police wrongly killing white men that the media never addresses or never touches.” This is because, Whitlock said, “it seems to me, they want us racially divided and at each other’s throats.”
It’s disheartening, commented Whitlock, that the media won’t give “people with common sense” a platform to voice their opinion. “It’s like we’re irresponsible.”
Whitlock did give his opinion about Black Lives Matter — some six years ago, now — but few heeded his warning.
“I was telling people four years ago, ‘Hey look, Black Lives Matter is not what you think. You think it’s a pro-black movement — it’s not. It’s funded by communists and it’s a disruptor.”
Within his circle of friends, Whitlock is witnessing more eyes opening to the reality of this movement. But he also recognizes “the failure of being wedded to one political ideology.”
“I think black people are being programmed and pushed farther and farther to the left,” he said. “If you understand anything about the history of African Americans in this country, we have been the most religious people in the country. Our values are naturally conservative, the things we believe in. We’re not pro-abortion. But we have been pushed by the media farther left than our values say we should go. We’ve chosen politics over our belief in God.”
As someone who has been living and breathing sports for over 30 years, Whitlock has also witnessed the progression of sports gradually turning politically left.
It’s undeniable that sports shapes culture. And Whitlock said that’s what the Left figured out.
People now understand that if you can “influence sports culture and move it left,” you can “move the rest of society to the left. And that’s what I think we are seeing right now coming to full fruition,” Whitlock told Shapiro.
History has proved the commentator right.
“You go back and Jackie Robinson, in 1947, was ahead of the Civil Rights movement and actually inspired the Civil Rights movement,” said Whitlock. And, “Jesse Owns was the first black man to be celebrated as a national hero in America. Those are critical moments that opened doors for black people.”
It’s ironic, Whitlock explained — leftist media organizations are using sports, particularly the NFL, to promote social justice activism, when “there’s no institution that has created more black millionaires than the NFL.”
Whitlock’s own life demonstrated this concept. Hard work and a football scholarship allowed him to chase his dream of becoming like his childhood hero, columnist Mike Royko.
Yet, even so, big-time sports corporations rush to the side-line after any political action from players or leadership.
To be fair, Whitlock doesn’t believe the sports industry was initially at fault. “They’ve been bullied,” he said. And the culprit was the blog-based media company, Deadspin, who intimidated ESPN and finally succeeded in “moving them politically left.”
But the move is hurting the sports industry. Sports, a once all-inclusive conversation starter, has now shifted to be a common conversation stopper.
“I think the market is starting to speak, and I think that their brand has been damaged because if you understand who sports fans are, they tend to lean a bit more conservative. And so they’ve irritated the largest segment,” said Whitlock.
At the end of the day, sports teaches us values.
And “they’re not political, but they are conservative,” asserted Whitlock.
“You have to take ownership of your own destiny and life,” he urged. “And America has a track record that if you’re willing to do that, you’ll find some success here. There are just too many examples of it.”
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