Shockingly Few NBA Players Are Registered To Vote
It went largely unnoticed because of other, more attention-grabbing headlines, but a troubling number emerged from the NBA bubble this week: 20 percent.
Only 20 percent of all NBA players are registered to vote. That statistic was revealed during a heated Wednesday night meeting where players and coaches attempted to figure out whether they should continue on with the rest of the NBA Playoffs.
Earlier in the day, the Milwaukee Bucks opted to boycott their showdown with the Orlando Magic. Two other games that were supposed to follow ultimately got postponed as well.
Udonis Haslem took it upon himself to call out LeBron. https://t.co/Y1MzklIW2Y
— Game 7 (@game7__) August 28, 2020
That evening, players and coaches still in the NBA bubble gathered to discuss how to proceed. A lot of insights came out during the meeting, but one of the most interesting ones was just how few players are registered to vote.
The NBA’s leaders have been very vocal about promoting social justice and change, and it is hard to envision an easier path to making change a reality than voting.
Two veterans decided that Patrick Beverley’s disrespect was unacceptable and stepped up immediately. https://t.co/Stjes6Mffs
— Game 7 (@game7__) August 28, 2020
Mind you, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul single-handedly got every single one of his teammates to register to vote. He saw the importance of it, realized he had to do something, and got it done.
There is no reason why the NBA’s other leaders could not have worked to do the same.
To be fair, the United States trails many developed nations when it comes to voter turnout. So maybe it should not be surprising that a league full of young adults, a group that historically is the worst when it comes to actually voting, has not taken the steps necessary to do so.
At the same time, athlete credibility as it pertains to political messaging takes a serious hit when stuff like this comes out. Critics are already searching high and low for reasons to discredit them. This just tees those critics up for a very easy shot.
Four years ago, when Colin Kaepernick was the lone notable athlete protesting racial injustice, it came out that he too had never registered to vote. Not in 2008 or 2012 when Barack Obama was running for president, not in 2016 when Donald Trump ultimately won.
“You know, I think it would be hypocritical of me to vote,” he said at the time.
“I said from the beginning I was against oppression, I was against the system of oppression. I’m not going to show support for that system. And to me, the oppressor isn’t going to allow you to vote your way out of your oppression.”
It is unclear if unregistered NBA players echo Kaepernick’s frustrations and refuse to partake in the voting process for the same reasons.
On Friday, the NBA and its players released a statement noting that they would establish a social-justice coalition and promote voting.
“In every city where the league franchise owns and controls the arena property, team governors will continue to work with local elections officials to convert the facility into a voting location for the 2020 general election to allow for a safe in-person voting option for communities vulnerable to COVID,” the statement read.
“If a deadline has passed, team governors will work with local elections officials to find another election-related use for the facility, including but not limited to voter registration and ballot receiving boards.”
In addition, the statement highlighted that resources would be set aside to promote “greater civic engagement.”
“The league will work with the players and our network partners to create and include advertising spots in each NBA playoff game dedicated to promoting greater civic engagement in national and local elections and raising awareness around voter access and opportunity.”
The NBA is trying to do a lot. It is attempting to be an advocate for change and spark a movement that will stand the test of time. The goal is admirable, and one that deserves support across the aisle.
But you cannot tell people to vote when you are not registered to vote yourself.
Paul took the necessary steps to ensure that his teammates would be able to make their voices heard. Now it is on the rest of the league’s stars to step up and do the same with their teams.