Today's Liberal News

Jemele Hill

The Two Americas Debating Will Smith and Chris Rock

I was on an overnight flight from Los Angeles to New York City during the Academy Awards, so at first I didn’t see the Will Smith–Chris Rock fiasco that sent America into a complete tizzy. But when I was finally able to turn on my cellphone, I had 653 text messages.Six hundred and fifty-three.By now, you’ve probably seen multiple videos and angles of Smith slapping Rock.

How NFL Teams Talk Themselves Into Players Like Deshaun Watson

Updated at 6:45 p.m. ET on March 24, 2022.The Cleveland Browns are acting as if they conducted a high-level, CSI-like investigation before offering Deshaun Watson a five-year, $230 million deal late last week. It’s a laughable pretense.The quarterback, formerly of the Houston Texans, faces 22 civil lawsuits accusing him of a range of inappropriate and coercive sexual behavior.

Brittney Griner’s Plight Says More About America Than Russia

The Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner is one of the most dominant WNBA players ever. Yet now she’s in custody in Russia—a predicament that not only threatens her safety amid a major global crisis but also exposes the inferior status of professional women’s basketball in America.

The NFL’s Black Coaches Should Stop Playing Along

In a damning 58-page class-action lawsuit against the NFL, Brian Flores presents screenshots of a text-message exchange that crystallizes the dilemma Black coaches routinely find themselves in: They’re supposed to play along with a hiring system that officially requires teams to consider minority candidates for top jobs but that, in practice, is plainly biased against them.

The Continuing Humiliation of Black NFL Coaches

Coaches such as David Culley, just fired from the Houston Texans, and Brian Flores, of the Miami Dolphins until very recently, face a major problem in the NFL. It’s not their pedigree. It’s not their experience. It’s not their ability to relate to players. It’s not their offensive or defensive schemes.It’s that they’re Black.

The Selfishness of Novak Djokovic

Updated at 8:20 p.m. ET on January 15, 2022After a dramatic weeklong fight with the world’s top men’s tennis player, Australia’s immigration authorities wisely decided to revoke Novak Djokovic’s visa a second time because he flouted the country’s COVID-19 policies. Although the Australian authorities and tennis officials aren’t blameless, this is a huge, self-inflicted public-relations crisis for Djokovic that has smeared his legacy.

The NBA and NFL Surrendered to Their Vaccine Refusers

The Brooklyn Nets have officially ended their tug-of-war with Kyrie Irving over the star point guard’s vaccination status. And Irving, who has refused to get a COVID-19 shot, is unquestionably the winner.The rapid spread of the coronavirus’s Omicron variant has left gaps on rosters across the NBA.

Enes Kanter Freedom Is Letting Himself Be Used

The NBA player Enes Freedom is showing the danger of attracting the wrong kind of supporters.Formerly Enes Kanter, the 29-year-old Boston Celtics center took a new surname when he became an American citizen on Monday.

Enes Kanter Freedom Is Letting Himself Be Used

The NBA player Enes Freedom is showing the danger of attracting the wrong kind of supporters.Formerly Enes Kanter, the 29-year-old Boston Celtics center took a new surname when he became an American citizen on Monday.

Why Aaron Rodgers Felt Free to Mislead People

Updated at 5:10 p.m. ET on November 5, 2021The Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins and the Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving disheartened fans and disappointed their teams by remaining unvaccinated against COVID-19, but at least both athletes kept it real. Neither attempted to deceive the public about his status. Aaron Rodgers, however, made a conscious decision not to tell the truth.

Jon Gruden Just Put It in Writing

Updated at 12:04 p.m. ET on October 13, 2021Jon Gruden’s resignation as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders is just the beginning of a long-overdue reckoning for the NFL, and it underscores the basic problem: The NFL is full of Jon Grudens.Gruden made racist, homophobic, and misogynistic comments in emails for nearly a decade, but he was forced out only when some of those reprehensible statements became public.

Most NFL Players Understand What Cam Newton Doesn’t

A popular saying in football is that a player’s best ability is his availability. The idea explains why injured players in professional football are often cut, released, or relegated to lesser roles. It’s why an NFL player’s history of missing games can keep him from getting a big contract. It’s why players who face criminal allegations are handled according to whether they’ll miss time on the field.

Simone Biles’s Critics Don’t Understand This Generation of Athletes

Simone Biles was expected to be the story of the Tokyo Olympics because of her long series of jaw-dropping performances up to now. Instead, she’s become the story of these Olympics because she’s not performing. Citing her mental health, Biles removed herself from the women’s gymnastics team final after one rotation on Tuesday night. A day later, she withdrew from the individual all-around competition.

Gentle Encouragement Wasn’t Going to Be Enough

Here’s something I almost never say: The NFL is right.When pro football announced last week that it will impose stiff penalties on teams that experience a COVID-19 outbreak involving unvaccinated players, it exposed a serious vaccination divide among its athletes. Fans also learned in real time that some of their favorite NFL stars are not only vaccine-hesitant but also susceptible to some of the same misinformation that has duped millions of other Americans.

Give Reggie Bush His Heisman Back

College sports changed forever this week. Giving in to intense pressure from state lawmakers, the NCAA freed student athletes to profit off of their own name, image, and likeness for the first time. The next step in the NCAA’s forced evolution should be to restore the reputation of athletes whom the organization has demonized for capitalizing on their own fame.

Naomi Osaka Is Part of a Larger War Within Sports

Congratulations, tennis. You’ve won neither the battle nor the war with Naomi Osaka, but you have just bullied one of the biggest stars in your sport into quitting a major tournament that could use the publicity she would have brought to it.Osaka, the second-ranked woman in international tennis and the highest-paid female athlete in the world, withdrew from the French Open after a power struggle with tournament officials over whether she would attend obligatory press conferences.

Athletes Will Never Be Quiet Again

George Floyd’s murder last Memorial Day persuaded a lot of people in sports to use their public profile to fight racism in America. So it was fitting that the NBA, its players’ union, and the WNBA players’ union joined together Tuesday, the first anniversary of Floyd’s death, to publicly challenge Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

Conservative Donors Have Their Own Cancel Culture

The University of Texas insists that it is willing to confront its past racism and make sweeping changes for the sake of justice. What it won’t do is deal with the racist history of its school song.Last summer, amid nationwide protests over George Floyd’s death in police custody, more than two dozen Texas football players and other athletes issued a list of demands aimed at making their school more welcoming.

America Didn’t Need Sports After All

The night that sports began shutting down was the night that the United States began shutting down. On March 11, 2020, an announcer at the Oklahoma City Thunder’s home arena told fans just before tip-off that the evening’s game had been postponed. Within an hour, the visiting Utah Jazz revealed that a player—soon identified as the center Rudy Gobert—had tested positive for COVID-19, and the NBA also declared that it was indefinitely suspending the season.

America Didn’t Need Sports After All

The night that sports began shutting down was the night that the United States began shutting down. On March 11, 2020, an announcer at the Oklahoma City Thunder’s home arena told fans just before tip-off that the evening’s game had been postponed. Within an hour, the visiting Utah Jazz revealed that a player—soon identified as the center Rudy Gobert—had tested positive for COVID-19, and the NBA also declared that it was indefinitely suspending the season.

The Problem With Mandatory Patriotism in Sports

Playing the “The Star-Spangled Banner” at sporting events has become an empty gesture of patriotism—so empty that, when the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks quietly began skipping the ritual, 13 preseason and regular-season games passed before anyone noticed.On Tuesday, The Athletic reported that the Mavericks had abandoned the national anthem, making them the first team in the recent history of major professional sports to take such a stance.

‘Some Team Has to Want Me’

In Sunday’s Super Bowl, three of the four offensive and defensive coordinators—the highest-ranking assistant coaches on the field—will be Black. That their teams are competing for a championship isn’t the only thing Eric Bieniemy of the Kansas City Chiefs and Byron Leftwich and Todd Bowles of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have in common. They also are striking examples of how the National Football League continues to fail Black coaches.

The WNBA Can’t Keep Kelly Loeffler Around

Last week, soon after Georgia chose its first Black senator, an idea began to circulate on Twitter: Perhaps the Reverend Raphael Warnock, who will be the 11th Black senator in United States history, should wear the WNBA’s signature orange hoodie when he is sworn in. After all, the women’s professional basketball league and its players share credit for Warnock’s victory.

Denial Isn’t Working Out for College Football

College football is now the epitome of the way dysfunction becomes normalized in America. Fans of the sport woke up to the news Saturday morning that the Clemson–Florida State game was postponed because a Clemson offensive lineman had tested positive for the coronavirus the day before. The matchup was one of 18 games that had to be canceled or postponed last week because of COVID-19.

She Did It

When I interviewed Vice President–elect Kamala Harris last year at the Essence Festival, she had plenty of wisdom to share about the challenges a Black woman faces when pursuing national office. “Some might think that breaking barriers means you start off on one side of the barrier,” said Harris, who was running for president at the time, “and then you just turn up on the other side of the barrier. No, there’s breaking involved.

Kamala Harris Claims Her Power

Before last night’s vice-presidential debate, the hype, at least among Democrats, was that Kamala Harris was going to knock Mike Pence out. You might have thought it was 1988 again, and the debate was that year’s most anticipated prizefight, with the senator from California playing the role of Mike Tyson and the sitting vice president cast as Michael Spinks.Tyson knocked out Spinks in 91 seconds.

For the Big Ten, the Money Was Just Too Tempting

The coronavirus pandemic is still ravaging America, just as it was in August, when the college presidents and chancellors of the Big Ten Conference decided against playing football in the fall. The only thing that’s changed is that the same leaders now feel far more comfortable with the risks.The Big Ten’s announcement this week that college football will begin the weekend of October 23 isn’t cause for celebration, but rather an indication of how easily money shifts priorities.

The Anti-Semitism We Didn’t See

Like DeSean Jackson, the Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver who is being condemned for posting a fake Adolf Hitler quote on his Instagram feed last week, I too have had an ill-advised Hitler moment.In 2008, I was a general columnist for ESPN.com, covering the NBA Finals series between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics.