Commentary by JASON WHITLOCK | January 03, 2022
Professional sports are no longer a force for good. They do not unify us. They do not inspire us to seek our better selves. They do not provoke participants to take bold and courageous stances. For the first time in my lifetime, I believe professional sports do more harm to American society than good.
This is what ran across my mind yesterday as I watched Tampa Bay wide receiver Antonio Brown strip off his uniform mid-game, toss his equipment to the ground, wave to the crowd, and run off the field.
Professionalized football – collegiate and the NFL – exacerbated the emotional problems that have plagued Brown since childhood. Because of his immense talent, football afforded Brown the opportunity to ignore the mental scars a dysfunctional upbringing in South Florida wrought. Worse, the new social media demands of professional sports sank Brown further into the mental abyss.
Over the next few days, you will hear plenty of analysts and Twitter pundits speculate that Brown is suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy – CTE. CTE and white supremacy are the popular and corporate-media-approved explanations given any time a professional football player, particularly a black one, behaves poorly. They’re bogus excuses that ignore the fact that bigotry and head trauma in sports have been around since gladiators fought lions for the entertainment of the masses. If CTE is real and the cause of unstable behavior, then Spartacus, Bronko Nagurski, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali, Walter Payton, and Joe Montana should all have melted down.
No, what’s new and what explains both Antonio Brown’s plunge into bizarro world and the rapid decay of professional sports as a force for good is the importance of social media brand-building. Brown has no more or less CTE than Troy Aikman, Jim Brown, Joe Montana, Dick Butkus, or any prizefighter.
Brown is suffering from mass formation psychosis. Yep, the psychological disorder Dr. Robert Malone discussed in his infamous Joe Rogan interview. Malone, of course, was talking about our exaggerated fear of COVID-19. Malone compared modern America to Germany in the 1920s and 1930s.
“A very intelligent, highly educated population, and they went barking mad,” he said. “When you have a society that has become decoupled from each other and has free-floating anxiety in a sense that things don’t make sense, we can’t understand it, and then their attention gets focused by a leader or series of events on one small point just like hypnosis, they literally become hypnotized and can be led anywhere.”
Here’s how I translate Malone’s explanation: America, the land of individualism and independent thought, is suffering from social and corporate media-induced groupthink. It’s made us choose group fear over individual freedom. It’s made us crazy. Antonio Brown is nuts, and his addiction to Instagram and Twitter is making him crazier. He turned a rather routine sideline dispute between himself and Bruce Arians into a career-ending confrontation and walk-off. It’s not all that surprising if you have been following Brown’s descent. In 2018, ESPN’s Jesse Washington wrote a prescient piece on Brown and his love affair with the social media matrix. The article perfectly captures the negative impact social media was having on Brown’s reality and worldview.
Brown is the micro. Professional sports are the macro. Social media has eroded the value and integrity of professional sports. It’s done the same thing to corporate media and public discourse. It’s at the root of American division. Social media is a cancer. Mass formation psychosis is just a strand of social media cancer.
For today, I don’t want to stray too far from sports.
Let’s look beyond Antonio Brown. Let’s look at a football player with an impeccable reputation and the damage social media is doing to him: Tom Brady. He suffers from mass formation psychosis, too. You will never convince me Brady believes in the experimental COVID vaccines. Never. The man is meticulous about what he puts into his body. But he has a social media brand he must protect, so he pretends to be on board with the experimental medical trials being forced on the American public.
Pro athletes are cowards. They’re tools of major corporations. They’ve completely sold out for money. They live in fear of the social media mob. Combined, Brady and his wife, Giselle Bundchen, are worth close to a billion dollars. Brady has the money and the accomplishments to say and do whatever he wants. He could use his voice and his platform to speak against the vaccine mandates and the stupid and divisive NFL COVID protocols. He remains silent.
The same goes for LeBron James. He’s a slave to his social media following. Pretending that cops are on a murderous rampage against American black men pleases social media and the Chinese Communist Party. The point of view is detached from reality and a symptom of mass formation psychosis.
Professional sports used to reveal and sharpen a man’s character. We’re all flawed. Participation in sports used to shave some of our flaws. Now the games solely reward talent and men willing to swallow and promote whatever agenda Big Tech and global corporations dictate.
Antonio Brown won the talent lottery. That’s why the Steelers, Raiders, Patriots, Buccaneers, and Tom Brady kept bending their standards to make room for Brown. For me, the Great Reset is turning into my personal Great Awakening. Professional sports and their participants solely serve the dollar. The difference between Antonio Brown and Tom Brady isn’t as significant as you might think.