Make no mistake, I don’t take my political or social cues from people like former NBA star and current TNT broadcaster Charles Barkley. What I do expect to take from “Sir Charles” is some insightful basketball analysis, and a few good belly laughs.
But on Sunday night, when Barkley expressed his political views in a most blatant and unprofessional manner, I lost a lot of respect for him, and for the network that employs him.
Barkley was giving analysis of the Boston Celtics-Atlanta Hawks first round playoff game being held at Boston’s TD Garden, when the cameras caught presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and his wife in attendance. Out of nowhere Barkley loudly exclaimed, “We are going to beat you like a drum in November. But don’t take it personally. I like you. You seem like a nice guy. But you’re going down bro.” Barkley’s colleagues were in a stunned silence for few moments.
This wouldn’t be the first time that Charles Barkley has inserted his loafers into his mouth, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. But there has to be a line drawn somewhere between being loquacious and spontaneous, and sounding like an absolute idiot. Barkley crossed that line on Sunday.
There is absolutely no need in the world of sports journalism for a so-called professional to interject his or her political views (no matter how humorously they try to do it) during a broadcast unless it involves an issue directly related to sports. There is no gray area here. If Time-Warner and TNT can’t see this was more than just a slight fumble by Barkley, then I’m not sure if they even care.
Tell us about the turrible game Charles…make fun of players, needle your co-hosts, say things that make for good water-cooler giggles the next day. But don’t tell me who you are voting for in any election, or how badly you think the other candidate will be beaten. I really don’t care.
Oh, and for the record, Charles…Mr. Romney hasn’t even officially been nominated yet. Try a fact-check before you blabber next time.