There is an interesting controversy over the free speech rights of a major league basketball player and a team’s effort to avoid unpopular public demonstrations. Mavericks player Josh Howard is shown in the video below disrespecting the national anthem and saying that, as an African-American, he was opposed to it. Obviously, school children have the right not to sing the song as do adults. The question is whether a player can be sanctioned under a contract for embarrassing public displays.
The Mavericks are reportedly upset over the video and seeking to “educate” players on such displays.
For the video, click here.
During a charity flag football game in July, Howard states “‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ is going on. I don’t celebrate this [expletive]. I’m black.”
Howard has proven radioactive for the team. In July, he was arrested for a drag race in North Carolina and previously he has admitted to being a regular pot user. He was also criticized for throwing a birthday party for himself in the playoff series when players were told to avoid such parties.
His lawyer could not be found for comment is believed to be in an undisclosed location with Dick Cheney.
Owner Mark Cuban indicated that, for now, he views the problem as the threat of cellphone cameras rather than the content of the video:
“That said, we will be going through some advanced communication-skill sessions together this training camp, I have explained to him that cellphone cameras are not your friend and that what you think you said on camera is never what people will hear when it shows up on YouTube or TV.”
There has been a long debate over clauses in these contracts concerning conduct that would bring controversy or disrepute to the team. However, this is a clear exercise of first amendment speech on the part of Howard — though obviously the vast majority of Americans (including the vast majority of African-Americans) would likely condemn his views.
It is a good thing that he doesn’t play baseball in Yankee stadium though, here.
For the full story, click here.