For the past six months or so, it’s been nearly impossible to watch a sports news show or listen to sports radio without some mention of LaVar Ball, possibly the most reported on father of an athlete in American sports.
It started out as entertaining; a loud-mouthed father who seems to truly believe in his son and is willing and capable of saying anything about anybody, and has a knack for making ridiculous statements. Is his son better than two-time NBA Champion Steph Curry? Probably not. It’s not to say that one day Lonzo may play at that level and be better than the four-time All Star and two-time MVP, but today is not that day.
There was also the shoe deal, his on-going feud with Shaq, comments about LeBron James’ kids and last but not least claiming he could beat Michael Jordan one-on-one (a claim he made some time ago but is back in the headlines because the GOAT finally responded).
All of the examples above are over the top yet still somehow a bit entertaining, so it’s easy to see why the media would follow him around and give him his endless minutes of fame.
But we have to address the more concerning side of LaVar Ball, a side that is sexist and misogynistic. Yes, at first it was all fun and play, but the media also gave rise to a man who has gone on record making sexist comments more than once. The best example of his sexist ways was his recent rant against a female referee after a youth basketball game.
Ball told ESPN,
“She got a vendetta because she’s a woman who’s trying to act — I get that she’s trying to break into the refereeing thing. But just giving techs and calling fouls, that’s no way to do it. I know what she trying to say: ‘Oh I gave him a tech. I’m strong.’ That ain’t got nothing to do with it. Just call the game. If you’re going to be qualified, you better be in shape and you better know the game. And she’s bad on both of them. She’s not in shape, she’s not calling the game right. And she don’t understand. And now she’s trying to make a name for herself, so she’s walking around like, ‘You know I’m the only woman in here.’ Yeah, we get it. I don’t care if you’re a woman, or a man or whatever, just be good at what you do. Don’t try to step in the lane. She needs to stay in her lane because she ain’t ready for this. “
These latest headlines from LaVar Ball have actually changed the media’s mind about how to address him and whether or not he should be reported on so often. Conversation has gone from “have you heard LaVar’s latest comments,” to “should we even be reporting on LaVar’s latest comments?”
The answer is no, we shouldn’t, and some big name personalities in sports media have come to the same conclusion. ESPN’s Jay Bilas penned a column titled “LaVar Ball crossed the line and isn’t worthy of our attention,” in which he admits that at first he was entertained by Ball, but now, understands he was wrong about him, and that “he is a misogynistic buffoon unworthy of my time.”
We can’t cut him out cold turkey because some websites and channels may continue covering his antics. Some channels and sites may continue talking about LaVar and his antics, because, let’s face it, he brings in great ratings (which on another note: sports fans need to take a long, hard look in the mirror if this is what they tune in for).
But we have to start somewhere. A group that supplied referees to games cut their ties with Adidas after a female referee was replaced. LaVar Ball and his ratings were apparently more important. They took the first move, it’s time for others across the board to follow.
As the media, we helped him rise, now we must take responsibility and it starts with taking him off the air.