- Mark Cuban, billionaire TV personality and Dallas Mavericks owner, told media outlets Tuesday that in November, he instructed his team not to play the national anthem at the start of home games.
- Cuban initially refused to discuss why he made the decision but reportedly consulted with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver before pulling the plug on “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
- On Wednesday, Cuban said in a statement, “[We] loudly hear the voices of those who feel that the anthem does not represent them. We feel that their voices need to be respected and heard, because they have not been.“
- While some fans vowed to stop watching Mavericks games, others applauded the move, noting that most other countries do not play their national anthems before sports games.
Update: The NBA has now released a statement saying, “With NBA teams now in the process of welcoming fans back into their arenas, all teams will play the national anthem in keeping with longstanding league policy.”
Cuban Cuts National Anthem
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told multiple media outlets Tuesday that he has instructed the team to stop playing the national anthem before home games.
“It was my decision, and I made it in November,” Cuban, who is also a billionaire investor and “Shark Tank” personality, told The New York Times.
Notably, Cuban’s statement explains why the national anthem was not played in any of the team’s 13 preseason and regular-season games this year.
Cuban initially refused to comment on why he made the decision, but on Wednesday, he released a statement explaining his decision.
“We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country,” he said. “But we also loudly hear the voices of those who feel that the anthem does not represent them. We feel that their voices need to be respected and heard, because they have not been.
Many outlets also have cited his previous support for encouraging players to kneel during the anthem if they choose.
“Whether it’s holding their arm up in the air, whether it’s taking a knee, whatever it is, I don’t think this is an issue of respect or disrespect to the flag or to the anthem or to our country,” Cuban told ESPN last June. “I think this is more a reflection of our players’ commitment to this country and the fact that it’s so important to them that they’re willing to say what’s in their heart and do what they think is right.”
A month later, Cuban said in a now-deleted tweet, “The National Anthem Police in this country are out of control. If you want to complain, complain to your boss and ask why they don’t play the National Anthem every day before you start work.”
While the NBA league book requires players to stand for the national anthem, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said that rule would not be enforced this season. Similarly, Cuban said he consulted with Silver on the decision not to play the national anthem.
What Are People Saying?
Reaction to Cuban’s decision has been a bit of a mixed bag.
Some, such as former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R), said they no longer plan to watch Mavericks games.
“The American flag Flag of United States & National Anthem Multiple musical notes were two of the things that united people in this country,” Walker tweeted. “Regardless of sex or race or ethnic background or political party-these were the civic rituals that brought us together. They still should. I will not watch @dallasmavs anymore.”
Others backed the decision, including one U.S. Marine veteran who tweeted that they take “ZERO issue with Mark Cuban’s decision… The National Anthem is not and should not be a requirement for any game to be played — it’s two separate things.”
A number of sports reporters also chimed in.
“The US is an outlier when it comes to the pre-game national anthem,” The New York Times reporter Christopher Clarey said. “Would have more resonance as a rarity instead of being the rule.”
Meanwhile, USA Today columnist Nancy Armour summed up the situation by saying, “There are no doubt some who are deeply moved by The Star-Spangled Banner, and see it as a way to honor those who have and do serve this country.“
“But there are also those for whom it is a reminder of this country’s failings, and the work we still need to do to achieve true equality,” Armour added.
“And then there are those for whom it is simply an extra two minutes to grab a hot dog and beer or make a run for the bathroom. I suspect the majority of Americans fall into that last category. Oh, they might not admit it. But go to any game, and look at the number of people who are talking, texting, taking photos or walking to their seats during the anthem. I have, and it’s a lot. I even saw a guy vaping during the anthem once.”
Like Armour later noted, Yahoo Sports reporter Leander Schaerlaeckens pointed out that the Mavericks’ policy was already in effect for months “before anybody even noticed. So what are we even talking about here?”
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (ESPN) (The Athletic)
6 Dr. Seuss Books Won’t Be Published Anymore Because of Racist Imagery
- Six Dr. Seuss books will no longer be published because they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced Tuesday.
- The late author’s company said the decision was made last year after months of feedback from audiences, teachers, and other specialists in the academic field.
- However, many school districts and groups have moved away from Dr. Seuss for years because of racist stereotypes and insensitive imagery in some of his work.
Production of Six Offensive Books To End
Six Dr. Seuss books will stop being published because of racist and insensitive imagery, the business that preserves and protects the author’s legacy said Tuesday.
The list of books blocked from production are:
- “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street”
- “If I Ran the Zoo”
- “McElligot’s Pool”
- “On Beyond Zebra!”
- “Scrambled Eggs Super!”
- “The Cat’s Quizzer”
“These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises wrote in its announcement letter. “Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’s catalog represents and supports all communities and families.”
Examples of Offending Content
A 2019 study published in the journal “Research on Diversity in Youth Literature,” looked at 50 books by Dr. Seuss and found 43 out of the 45 characters of color have “characteristics aligning with the definition of Orientalism,” or the stereotypical, offensive portrayal of Asia. It added that the two “African” characters both have anti-Black characteristics.
The study even pointed to specific examples. “In (“The Cat’s Quizzer”), the Japanese character is referred to as ‘a Japanese,’ has a bright yellow face, and is standing on what appears to be Mt. Fuji,” the authors wrote.
It also pointed to “If I Ran the Zoo” as an example of Orientalism and White supremacy.
“The three (and only three) Asian characters who are not wearing conical hats are carrying a White male on their heads in ‘If I Ran the Zoo.’ The White male is not only on top of, and being carried by, these Asian characters, but he is also holding a gun, illustrating dominance,” the study authors wrote. “The text beneath the Asian characters describes them as ‘helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant’ from ‘countries no one can spell.'”
The study also argues that since the majority of human characters in Dr. Seuss’ books are White, his works center Whiteness and thus perpetuate White supremacy.
Academic Groups Move Away From Seuss
The company told the Associated Press that the decision was made last year after months of feedback from audiences, teachers, and other specialists in the academic field.
Still, it’s worth noting that it also comes a week after a school district in Virginia made headlines for allegedly banning books written by Dr. Seuss, whose real name is Theodor Seuss Geisel.
The district eventually clarified that it was not banning his books. Instead, it said it was discouraging the connection between Dr. Seuss and “Read Across America Day,” which falls on the author’s birthday: March 2.
The decision to move away from Dr. Seuss books is not actually an uncommon move. School districts across the country have been doing the same.
The National Education Association, which founded “Read Across America Day” and deliberately aligned it with Dr. Seuss’ birthday, is included in that shift.
According to AP News, it’s been deemphasizing Seuss for years now and encouraging a more diverse reading list for kids.
While many have applauded Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ decision, others noted that it will continue to publish more popular books that have received criticism, including “The Cat in the Hat.”
For now, the company said it’s “committed to listening and learning and will continue to review our entire portfolio.”
Nike Exec Resigns After Bloomberg Reveals Her Connection To Son’s Sneaker Resale Business
- Nike Executive Ann Hebert has voluntarily resigned from the company after it was revealed that her son used her credit card to purchase more than $100,000 worth of new shoes for his shoe-resell business.
- The connection was first noticed by Bloomberg reporter Joshua Hunt, who was working on a profile of Hebert’s son, Joe.
- According to a Nike spokesperson, Hebert disclosed the relevant information about her son’s business to the company and hadn’t violated company policy.
- Still, Hunt’s report led to swift condemnation for Hebert, with many believing she had used her position to help her son scalp shoes.
Nike Exec Resigns
Nike Executive Ann Hebert voluntarily resigned Monday after Bloomberg exposed her connection to her son’s sneaker flipping business last week.
The report, published on Feb. 25, follows 19-year-old Joe Hebert and details how he spent more than $100,000 buying new shoes to resell at his business, West Coast Streetwear. In the article, reporter Joshua Hunt noted that types of shoes Joe bought would sell out in hours and that for people like him, “The sneaker market… is a lot like playing the [stock] market.”
“In the hours after siphoning up stock from retailers, they essentially sell short-term futures based on street sentiment,” Hunt said.
While scalping is a controversial enough practice on its own, near the end of the article, Hunt notes an unusual connection.
“At one point in late June… [Joe] phoned me, and the number was identified as belonging to Ann Hebert,” Hunt said. “I looked the name up and discovered there was an Ann Hebert who’d worked at Nike for 25 years and had recently been made its vice president and general manager for North America.”
Notably, the April 2020 press release announcing Ann’s new position stated she would be “instrumental in accelerating our consumer direct offense in North America.” That initiative redirected sales from retailers directly to consumers, and as a result, it helped to fuel the resale market.
“[Joe] Hebert later sent me a statement for an American Express corporate card for [West Coast Streetwear]… and it was in Ann’s name,” Hunt said in his article.
Hunt said he later asked Joe about the connection and while Joe admitted that Ann was his mother, he said she was too high up at Nike to be involved in what he does and that he’d never received inside information, such as discount codes, from her. He then insisted that she not be mentioned in the article and cut off contact.
From there, Hunt reached out to Ann and Nike directly. While Ann didn’t respond, a spokesperson told Hunt that Ann hadn’t violated company policy and that she had disclosed the relevant information about her son’s business to Nike.
Ann’s resignation comes amid outrage online, but the reaction to her resignation itself has been mixed.
There’s been no shortage of criticism against Ann following the announcement of her step down, and she’s even become the butt of a number of jokes. Still, others have defended her.
“The worst part is that Ann Hebert worked her way up the ladder in a male-dominated industry for 25 years only to be knocked down by her clout-chasing son,” TV host Tamara Dhia tweeted.
Others have said that with everything publicly known so far, they still feel like Ann was in the wrong.
I wish y’all would stop with this. She is no victim. Most retail companies have a non compete agreement with their employees & for her the ADULT to knowingly allow her son to do this makes her complicit at worse & sketchy at best. If this had been a store employee they’d be fired pic.twitter.com/aPeLZnS3Bt— @bayaangs_over_baghdad (@Kaijutsu711) March 2, 2021
See what others are saying: (Complex) (CNBC) (New York Post)
Doctors Urge People Not Skip Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 Vaccine for Moderna or Pfizer’s
- The FDA and CDC approved Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine over the weekend, allowing the company to begin shipping doses Monday for use later this week.
- Unlike Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines, Johnson & Johnson’s can be stored at higher temperatures for longer and only requires a single shot.
- Still, experts are worried people may try to skip the vaccine for either Pfizer or Moderna’s version since they have higher efficacy rates.
- Because of this, health officials have stressed that Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is still highly effective and necessary to keep the U.S. from seeing another rise in daily case rates.
CDC Recommends Johnson & Johnson Vaccine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine on Sunday for Americans 18 and older. With that, the first doses of the vaccine began shipping out Monday, and vaccinations are expected to begin sometime this week.
The CDC’s recommendation came one day after the Food and Drug Administration authorized the vaccine for emergency use.
Johnson & Johnson is expected to ship 3.9 million doses this week. By the end of March, it hopes to have shipped a total of 20 million doses.
Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is also notable for two reasons. First, it doesn’t need to be kept frozen like the Pfizer vaccine and can be kept in a fridge for much longer than the Moderna vaccine. Second, it only needs to be administered once — not twice.
The approval and recommendation of this vaccine come at a potentially pivotal juncture. Since mid-January, the rate of new COVID-19 infections has been steadily falling; however, for the last week, daily infection rates have begun to plateau.
While it’s undoubtedly good news that the U.S. isn’t once again seeing a rise in cases, as CDC Director Rochelle Walensky explained, this is “a very concerning shift in the trajectory.”
That’s because it very likely could result in a rise in cases.
For example, experts worry that the public, as well as state and local officials, may be starting to let their guards down after hearing the news of falling infection rates. Still, those experts have reminded people that Monday marks one year since the announcement of the first coronavirus death in the U.S.
Since then, the U.S. alone has logged more than half a million deaths from this virus.
Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Efficacy
The addition of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has the capacity to help keep infection rates from climbing once more, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some challenges.
In fact, a major concern now seems to be around the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Notably, in late-stage trials, it was 85% effective against severe cases of COVID-19, with no deaths or hospitalizations being reported in the month after participants received the vaccine. It was also found to be around 72% effective at preventing moderate infections.
Still, that’s less than the 94% and 95% efficacy rates for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, respectively.
Because of that discrepancy, some health officials have begun to worry that people will try to skip the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in favor of the other two.
As a result, experts are assuring the public that Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is still highly effective. They’ve also noted that the studies for the three different vaccines happened at different stages of the pandemic and in different environments.
“They were compared under different circumstances,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the NIAID, said. “All three of them are really quite good, and people should take the one that’s most available to them… people need to get vaccinated as quickly and as expeditiously as possible.”