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Should Auston Matthews Be Obliged To Talk American Politics?

from Gare Joyce of Sportsnet,

A week or so ago at Leafs’ practice, as training camp dragged on, reporters asked Auston Matthews about the news of the day — tapping into a raw desperation for news of any sort beyond line combinations and the last player sent down. On this day, the news originated a long way from Toronto but spread far and wide: NFL players were following the lead of the currently unemployed Colin Kaepernick and kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to protest the institutional oppression of African-Americans. U.S. President Donald Trump had made the protests a distraction du jour at yet another one of his fawn-fests, calling for the firing of “the sons of bitches” who disrespected the flag — at least the way he was playing it — and encouraging fans to abandon the NFL for not thwarting the protests. Yeah, Trump as usual, looking to hook his supporters with a trip to the race-bait shop.

Matthews did not have a prepared response. “I don’t think I’d be one of the people who would take part in that,” he said of kneeling during the anthem. He noted that the protest might be seen as “a dishonour” to members of the military who “fight for the flag” and he pointed out that he has an uncle and other friends and family members who are or were in the service. He also noted that he isn’t a “big politics guy.”

On first pass, you might suppose that he had bought into the Trump line, maybe not the full Richie Incognito but still MAGA-ish. But then Matthews showed his position might be more nuanced. He said that he understands athletes using a platform to “send a message.” And then: “Isn’t that one of the Amendments? You have the right to say what you want.”...

A year from now I don’t imagine that we’ll be going to Auston Matthews for hot takes on the news of the day. But the actualization of the young phenom will grow to encompass more than the stuff on the ice. It has to. So far he has exercised a freedom not to speak. It’s a dubious freedom when so many are there waiting and listening.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: auston+matthews

Comments

Paul's avatar

Joyce, a Canadian-based writer sort of gives his US political views in numerous tweets at his Twitter page.

Personally, Matthews can say whatever he wishes and should not be forced to speak about matters he does not wish to talk about.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 10/08/17 at 11:00 AM ET

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This makes me sick.  19 and 20 yr olds being dragged into something they didn’t ask for.  He obviously doesn’t feel strongly about it so why is he being forced to take a position.

Posted by bababooey on 10/08/17 at 11:01 AM ET

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With you Bababooey.

 

Posted by ThatGuy on 10/08/17 at 11:15 AM ET

DocF's avatar

I do not believe that Matthews should or should not give his views on political topics.  That is up to him.  Personally, I would prefer he stick to hockey.

Posted by DocF from Now: Lynn Haven, FL; was Reidsville, NC on 10/08/17 at 11:18 AM ET

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He should absolutely be forced to give an opinion. And if it isn’t the correct one the media should be allowed to hold him accountable and he should pay for it with his career and endorsements.

Posted by SlimChance on 10/08/17 at 11:24 AM ET

WingedRider's avatar

This is a joke right?? He doesn’t need to say anything .  Joyce is embarrassing to Canadian sports reporting.

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 10/08/17 at 01:02 PM ET

Steeb's avatar

The press is free to ask him anything they want, and Matthews is equally free to tell them to get bent.

Posted by Steeb on 10/08/17 at 01:28 PM ET

The Meal's avatar

Other than the writers looking to have a story, who exactly is breathlessly waiting to hear Matthews’ response?

Posted by The Meal from Firestone, CO on 10/08/17 at 03:55 PM ET

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This guy is what’s wrong with “journalists”.

Posted by teldar on 10/08/17 at 05:59 PM ET

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I’m surprised that the teams media / PR people are allowing these questions. The PR people can clearly say those types of questions aren’t allowed. Sounds like this was an informal setting, but they can still apply their rules.

No matter where he stands on the issue he has nothing to gain by stating it publicly. Either way some fans would be pissed. Damn if he does, damn if he doesn’t.

Posted by RussianRocket10 on 10/08/17 at 06:10 PM ET

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Why doesn’t this pundit just hand Mathews a script and demand that he read it verbatim?

Yes, the near-teenage hockey player with no connection to, background in, or other stated opinions
about politics that I’m aware of, owes it to the Toronto media - and all of the Canadian public who must be waiting with bated breath - to parrot whatever Gare Joyce wants him to say.

Because he was born in the US.

Joyce is revealing far more about himself and the state of much of the insular, smug,
lockstep media that anything this one hockey player might think or say.

Whatever one thinks of the underlying issues, or the politics and personalities,
the attempt by a presumably experienced journalist to promote his personal take on these
issues and himself by attempting to use of the massive amount of hype in the Canadian media
surrounding Mathews and the Leafs ought to be embarrassing.

It would be funny to see him try it with Babcock or Lamoriello.

Posted by Lefty30 on 10/08/17 at 07:30 PM ET

Paul's avatar

Nice job Lefty and I would love to see any Canadian media approach Lou with that topic.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 10/08/17 at 07:45 PM ET

duhduhduh's avatar

Wow, what a chorus. Or, as Buggs Bunny would say, what a [bunch of ] taa rah rah goondeays. Oh, if an athlete signs on the bottom line to say how much he loooooooves a *#$%@& shaver for a fat pay check, you chuckle like it’s actually interesting. Or when they give the mother of all Bull Durham interviews—absolutely straight out of the greatest brain dead snooze book of all time, you actually pay attention like he’s going to say something. But if a journalist gives a young guy an opportunity to express an opinion about probably the most important subject in the history of his country, you real in shock. You harken me to that great Mark Twain on American politics: “It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them.”

Posted by duhduhduh on 10/08/17 at 08:19 PM ET

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MoreShoot

I don’t think anyone is really telling him to not speak.

It’s 2017, Austin Matthews of all people doesn’t need a reporter to ask a question to get his answer or opinion out to the world if he himself chooses to share it.

Posted by RussianRocket10 on 10/08/17 at 09:00 PM ET

duhduhduh's avatar

MoreShoot

I don’t think anyone is really telling him to not speak.

It’s 2017, Austin Matthews of all people doesn’t need a reporter to ask a question to get his answer or opinion out to the world if he himself chooses to share it.

Posted by RussianRocket10 on 10/08/17 at 09:00 PM ET

I’m more concerned about public opinion that a reporter shouldn’t ask the question. That’s absurd. Athletes are people living in the world just like everyone else. The idea,that sports should be a safe harbor away from the real world is fantasy.  Usually you might think a reporter would wait to hear an athlete express an opinion on a subject before trying to get them on the record, but it’s not required.

Posted by duhduhduh on 10/08/17 at 10:22 PM ET

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“...Most important subject in the history of our country…”

That has to be the most uninformed idea that has ever been been recorded from the walls of cavemen to the furthest reaches of the internet. Ever. Without exception.

Posted by SlimChance on 10/08/17 at 10:24 PM ET

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SlimChance

Maybe I misread what MoreShoot meant, but I think he was talking about the 1st Amendment being the most important subject, that’s how I read it anyway.

Posted by RussianRocket10 on 10/08/17 at 10:34 PM ET

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RR10

Ok. I’ll except your premise. Even if it was, the first amendment is a protection from government limiting free speech/expression.  It has no application to an employers rights to limit an employees conduct and even if you apply it to Trump’s comments it still doesn’t apply since he took no action against the players for doing it. The comment from shootmore was so amazingly over over the top it cannot be defended.  For the record, I also think the whole topic is absolutely ridiculous.

Posted by SlimChance on 10/08/17 at 10:44 PM ET

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*accept

Posted by SlimChance on 10/09/17 at 05:26 AM ET

duhduhduh's avatar

SlimChance

Maybe I misread what MoreShoot meant, but I think he was talking about the 1st Amendment being the most important subject, that’s how I read it anyway.

Posted by RussianRocket10 on 10/08/17 at 10:34 PM ET

Oh, no, I was talking about slavery/racial discrimination. You have to try really hard to find anything more integral to the formation and growth of America. The most important economic factor by far. The trade to acquire slaves (history book time, remember the rum, sugar, slave trade?): ship building, seamanship (think the entire New England coast), the birth of the US insurance market, to recover for lost investments(i.e., people). Next think about the internal slave market: what do you think was the chief source of collateral in US financial markets in the first half of the 19th century?  Yep, slave property. (i.e., people). When cotton and sugar became the top export crops in the united states fueling who knows how many other markets ... hmm, how did we grow all that cotton so cheaply?  Let me think for a millisecond.

More Americans have died fighting in wars over slavery then in all other wars combined.

The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments all are about slavery and its aftermath.

How about the history of labor markets in the south (or anywhere, if you like). What could poor southern white men do for a living in the south, and what decided that. Hint, they couldn’t really make money off the land because super rich white men who owned slaves had all the cards. And after reconstruction, jim crow discrimination manipulated the labor market just as much.

The great migration was, by f cousrse, flight from jim crow, straight into the ghettos of the industrial cities of the north. In our beloved Detroit, 300,000 people were jammed into about a square mile. When they demolished the black bottom in the early 60s to put in 375, all those people moved into neighborhoods in which they were not welcome, and the rest, as they say was late Detroit history.

All this, and we haven’t even gotten to philosophical, legal, or moral issues yet.

And you want to tell me there is something more impactful in American history?  And please don’t say freedom.

Posted by duhduhduh on 10/09/17 at 09:37 AM ET

duhduhduh's avatar

Sorry, didn’t mean to be so bitter or snarky in my tone, but sometimes this issue is like, hey, i think this guy next door is beating his wife, should we do something?  It’s scary to get involved, but worse to hide from.  And ypu shouldn’t use love of sport as dope.

Posted by duhduhduh on 10/09/17 at 09:43 AM ET

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Oh, no, I was talking about slavery/racial discrimination. You have to try really hard to find anything more integral to the formation and growth of America. The most important economic factor by far. The trade to acquire slaves (history book time, remember the rum, sugar, slave trade?): ship building, seamanship (think the entire New England coast), the birth of the US insurance market, to recover for lost investments(i.e., people). Next think about the internal slave market: what do you think was the chief source of collateral in US financial markets in the first half of the 19th century?  Yep, slave property. (i.e., people). When cotton and sugar became the top export crops in the united states fueling who knows how many other markets ... hmm, how did we grow all that cotton so cheaply?  Let me think for a millisecond.

I agree with this - and I think its dreadfully misunderstood how much the development of America as a whole depended on slavery and the slave trade, not just the south.

 

This makes me sick.  19 and 20 yr olds being dragged into something they didn’t ask for. 

Wow, where the heck was KuklasKorner comments section during Vietnam? 


Journalists are going to ask the questions that get clicks, and its well within bounds to not answer or to pontificate from the soap box.  If the media asks a question about the refs, its usually met with indifference or ignored.  Surely, Matthews could do the same here.

Posted by PMP5030 on 10/09/17 at 01:33 PM ET

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Thanks for the high school history essay, but topics from hundreds of years ago are far from the relevant factors at play behind the current issue of race relations. The media, politicians, Hollywood….there are plenty of people who benefit financially and politically by making sure the is racial turbulence. If you’re looking at the country’s original sin as the problem for current race relations, you and I aren’t even talking the same sport.  This ain’t your grandpa’s civil rights movement.

I’ll continue this over a beer but not here.

Posted by SlimChance on 10/09/17 at 01:39 PM ET

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Thanks for the high school history essay, but topics from hundreds of years ago are far from the relevant factors at play behind the current issue of race relations. The media, politicians, Hollywood….there are plenty of people who benefit financially and politically by making sure the is racial turbulence. If you’re looking at the country’s original sin as the problem for current race relations, you and I aren’t even talking the same sport.  This ain’t your grandpa’s civil rights movement.

I’ll continue this over a beer but not here.

Posted by SlimChance on 10/09/17 at 01:39 PM ET

I’ll stand by “dreadfully misunderstood.”  Although, I’ll offer its a fairly structuralist interpretation of history (ie logical) whereas you might believe slavery has zero to do with current race relations with some Reagan revisionist paperbacks from the ‘80s. 

there are plenty of people who benefit financially and politically by making sure the is racial turbulence

  yes, since 1776.

Posted by PMP5030 on 10/09/17 at 01:46 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

I wouldn’t say that it is unfair that he get asked these questions. All sides of this question are really about the 1st Amendment at their core. The press has the right to ask these questions, Matthews has the right to answer however he wants, including a “pass.” This type of stuff will always come with the spotlight when you’re one of the best at what you do in the world. That will always elevate you to being asked about things that are “outside your lane.” And for whatever it is worth, these issues aren’t outside anyone’s lane, in my opinion. Politics is part of America’s fabric and involvement from people of all different backgrounds should be applauded—even if you disagree with them—not criticized. It’s good to see “leaders” in other areas of our culture at least participating in a discussion on any side of the issue.

I think it’s unfair if anyone is hounding him for his, uh, less than informed answer. Is he even 20 yet? Kids like this are not just kids, they are kids that breathe, eat, and sleep hockey the years in which the rest of the class are doing social studies assignments. It is what it is. Anyone criticizing him for his answer should probably take a rest on that crap. Matthews will be a much different person if he’s asked a question like this when he’s 30 years old.

And you want to tell me there is something more impactful in American history?  And please don’t say freedom.

Posted by MoreShoot on 10/09/17 at 09:37 AM ET

This is a beautiful post. It always astonishes me how incapable most people seem to be in thinking about what their lives would be like if they were literal products of one of the worst crimes that can be committed against a fellow human being, and if everywhere they turned they were reminded of it every day (oftentimes in places as close as their goddamned surnames!).

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 10/09/17 at 02:49 PM ET

bigfrog's avatar

It’s simple. No politics at sporting events. shock

Posted by bigfrog on 10/09/17 at 10:40 PM ET

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Someone from the US should ask Joyce what it’s like to live under the regime of a failed ski instructor with obvious brain damage from a similarly failed boxing career. Normally, I’d view that sort of thing as rude, but Joyce apparently disagrees.

As long as this fool is Prime Minister, there’s not a single country on Earth, outside of maybe North Korea, a Canadian journalist is in a position to throw stones at without getting worse back.

Posted by larry on 10/10/17 at 12:55 AM ET

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^ now that’s funny.

Posted by SlimChance on 10/10/17 at 01:02 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

It’s simple. No politics at sporting events. shock

Posted by bigfrog on 10/09/17 at 10:40 PM ET

Then take down the CA and US flags from every arena and stop playing the anthems before puck drop. And no more paid patriotism where the armed forces spend money to recruit in concourses or to honor heroes before games.

Please don’t take this as a post “against the flag” or “against the troops,” because it couldn’t be farther from that. It’s just a simple point. If people genuinely want sports to be a refuge from politics, then they need to stand up and say they want all these other political aspects removed from the game.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 10/10/17 at 09:18 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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