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Tim Miller: Activist athletes? Pseudoscientist athletes? Culture wars sucking all the joy out of sports?
Reporter: Are you vaccinated?
Aaron Rodgers: Yeah, I’ve been immunized.
Miller: This is “Not My Party,” brought to you by The Bulwark.
There’s always been some politics in sports—Ali protesting the Vietnam War; Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s Olympic Black Power salute; W throwing the strike heard round the world—but it feels like politics has now flooded our sports culture to a really annoying and frankly, unhealthy degree.
Megan Rapinoe: It’s out of control.
Miller: The latest athlete to try to tread on my turf in the hot-take industry is Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. This week, he went on a podcast with some bro in a tank top to explain why he’d been lying about getting the jab. And check out the big brain on Aaron.
Rodgers (overlaid with Vince McMahon reactions): I realize I’m in the crosshairs of the woke mob right now. . . . First of all, I didn’t lie in the initial press conference. . . . I consulted with a now good friend of mine, Joe Rogan. . . . I’ve been taking monoclonal antibodies, ivermectin, zinc, vitamins C and D, HCQ. . . . The great MLK said that you have a moral obligation to object to unjust rules.
Miller: So a few things here, pal. First off, you did lie when you said you were “immunized.” So get that out of here.
Substitute teacher Mr. Garvey (Keegan-Michael Key): You done messed up A-A-Ron!
Dr. Danny Maccabee (Adam Sandler): Relax.
Miller: I will not relax because, number two, it isn’t a great look when rich white dudes compare their situation to MLK getting denied basic human rights.
Number three, Joe Rogan may make some good points from time to time, but generally speaking, you should consult medical professionals when it comes to vaccination advice, not podcasters who made people eat horse rectums on “Fear Factor.”
Joe Rogan: Do it! It’s very possible! Do it!
Miller: And finally, getting made fun of isn’t the same as getting canceled—something for famous people of all political persuasions to keep in mind.
Joey Tribbiani: Canceled?
Selina Meyer: It is a fate worse than death.
Miller: But this isn’t just about Aaron Rodgers. Kyrie Irving gave an even stupider explanation for why he’s not vaxxed.
Kyrie Irving: This is my life. I get to do whatever I want. . . . You gotta make these convictions yourself, like I got to make these myself.
Molly Park (from Dr. Ken): He’s a real role model.
Miller: And then douchenozzles like Ted Cruz start treating him like he was some great freedom fighter. Baseball moved the All-Star Game out of Atlanta because of a voting rights law, and then had a controversy during the World Series over the Braves kinda-racist Tomahawk Chop.
It’s too much. Wouldn’t it be better is people who disagreed politically could just go to games together and enjoy cheering for their local team?
King Ralph: Do you want to go get a beer?
Miller: This, by the way, is exactly what right-wing blowhards used to complain about.
Clay Travis: Used to be sports was an escape. And now when you put on your television, sports has become politics by any other name. . . . And we are praising the wokest athletes as if they’re incredible heroes.
Miller: But now they realize there’s more money to be made stoking an outrage mob of their own. So now the shut-up-and-dribble brigade has gone full, “Let’s Go Brandon.”
Crowd: Let’s Go Brandon!
Louise Belcher: They must be talking in code.
Shouting Shirtless Bro: F— Joe Biden!
Shouting Insecure Wannabe Tough Guy: F— Joe Biden!
Justine Sikowicz: That’s what that means.
Miller: Look, I’m all for anyone in public life, especially athletes from marginalized communities, speaking out about issues they care about, based on their life experience. My man Enes Kanter is a prime example of someone who’s been an influential voice for human rights, because he’s seen firsthand the terror of an authoritarian regime back in his home country of Turkey.
Enes Kanter: There are 17,000 innocent woman are in a jail right now and almost 1,000 babies in the jail with their mother, growing up in jails.
Miller: Thirsty politicians and hot-take artists, turning these guys into pawns in their little game, is gross.
Ted Cruz doing one of those weird voices he sometimes does: You’re the devil.
Miller: And it’s turning our whole society into a battlefield for their petty political grievances, which isn’t healthy. So let’s leave the epidemiology to the epidemiologists, and in exchange, I’ll leave throwing a football to the pros, too.
See you next week for more “Not My Party.”