In the wake of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus ending its 146-year run, a new circus has come to town — and this one's no fun at all.
By now, many of you know who LaVar Ball is. For those of you who don't: he's the loud, obnoxious, rude and arrogant father of the soon-to-be NBA rookie for the Los Angeles Lakers, Lonzo Ball, who for the better part of a year has been telling anyone who'll listen that he, his kids, and anything associated with he or them are the greatest thing this side of sliced bread.
He's insulted his kids' teammates, NBA legends such as Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley, athletic shoe stalwarts Nike and Adidas and, more recently, women broadcasters and referees who've dared to challenge him.
Lonzo appears to be indifferent — at least in public, where he shrugs off his dad's behavior and says, 'he's how he's always been.'
But what started as an apparent "shtick" by LaVar in an obvious attempt for publicity has since turned into an embarrassment of astronomic levels for the people around him and — more shamefully — the endless shows and networks repeatedly prolonging his 15 minutes of fame.
I know this is what we now do as a society. Take a flamboyant character such as LaVar, give him a stage and watch him sing and dance, all in the interest of the almighty dollar. Put him on Sportscenter, ESPN's First Take, Fox's Undisputed, or any one of the plethora of notable sports talk shows desperate for ratings. The message no longer matters, just the manner in which it's delivered.
Get attention and keep it as long as possible (which isn't long in today's world). That's the goal.
But what's the end game of glorifying a guy who by most accounts respects no one?
This is a guy who recently asked for a referee at a youth basketball game to be removed because he didn't like her; who not long ago responded to a question by a female correspondent on a nationally syndicated radio talk show with, "stay in your lane;" and who since his arrival in the public eye, has belittled his son's UCLA teammates, current and past NBA players, and consumers with his "Big Baller" brand sneakers with a retail price of $500.
Charles Barkley once famously said, "I'm not a role model." But as I said then and continue to say now, regardless of whether you should or shouldn't be, as a professional athlete and one kids look up to, you are always a role model and thus have the responsibility to act accordingly — as does ESPN, Fox Sports, and the rest of the worldwide web of sports talk radio whose hosts have the power to shape narratives, damn or promote people or things, and yes, even take a side when it comes to right and wrong.
LaVar Ball may be right when it comes to ratings and, ultimately, revenue for sports broadcasters trying to make a buck, but he's wrong in so many other ways, it might be time for the networks responsible for his success, to buy back the soul they sold when they allowed him to taste it.