Tuesday evening, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and all other charges in the death of George Floyd.
Afterward, pretty much everybody went on Twitter to say something, and the Las Vegas Raiders posted this:
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) April 20, 2021
“I can breathe” is a reference to when Floyd told officers that he could not breathe, multiple times, when the incident was going down almost a year ago. Some people were using this slogan as a way to express that justice had been served, but the Raiders got absolutely crushed for this tweet.
The post is still up, and owner Mark Davis said this via ESPN:
Davis told ESPN that he “meant no disrespect” to Floyd’s family with the tweet, and that he “took the lead” from Floyd’s brother, Philonise, who said following the verdict, “Today, we are able to breathe again.”
“I felt that was a powerful statement,” Davis said. “Today was a day where I can breathe, and we can all breathe again because justice was served. But we have a lot of work to do still on social justice and police brutality.”
The tweet was widely condemned in replies on Twitter but remained pinned to the top of the team’s account hours after being posted.
Here’s the problem –
We’re at a place now where sports has trended so significantly into the territory of politics and social justice that the lines are beyond blurred. Same with everything, really. You’ll see all of these random brands issuing statements because they want to show that they are in line with this movement and on the ‘right side of history,’ or however you’d like to phrase it.
And it puts them in a catch-22 of sorts, because on one hand, they aren’t experts on these matters. The Raiders’ tweet is a perfect example, because here’s Mark Davis just doing what he thinks is right and getting shredded for it by blue checkmarks anyway. But if the Raiders do nothing and say nothing, then people will be up their ass asking, “where is your statement about George Floyd?” And from a third perspective, there’s going to be a portion of the fan base wanting them to “stick to sports” and stay out of these things entirely.
It ends up being somewhat awkward. You could rhetorically ask if we need to hear from every generic sports team or brand on each matter like this. Do we need Twitter statements from Burger King and Swiffer? Should Crocs do a Facebook post? What about the Calgary Flames? How do you weigh the upside vs. predicting what the negative feedback might involve? Are you gonna lose fans? Do you care about losing fans if you’re taking a moral stand? These are all questions that each sports team and brand needs to consider.
It’s an interesting topic. The Raiders took a lot of shit for this, and while it may have been worded in a tone deaf or improper way, it was well-intentioned.