On Tuesday morning, Sports Illustrated unveiled their cover for this week’s issue. Given the recent turn in the national conversation towards athletes, their protests during the national anthem, and President Trump’s denigration thereof, it made sense for SI to focus heavily on the story. Their cover art choice, though, opened the magazine up to plenty of criticism.
Here’s the cover:
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) September 26, 2017
Whoa, hey, there’s longtime supporter of protesting racial injustice Roger Goodell right in the front row, Photoshopped arm-in-arm with Steph Curry! Roger Goodell, de facto head of the league which has effectively and collectively ended Colin Kaepernick’s career after he started this movement singlehandedly last year, right there on the front lines.
Oh, and speaking of Colin Kaepernick, you won’t find him on there.
what the hell is goodell doing here pic.twitter.com/TuK9jNUZkC
— BUM CHILLIPS (@edsbs) September 26, 2017
this can't be real pic.twitter.com/ZZom09wEIX
— El Flaco (@bomani_jones) September 26, 2017
I'd love to hear the explanation for how Roger Goodell ended up on this cover but Colin Kaepernick didn't. pic.twitter.com/wkgIKU77Ka
— Travis Waldron (@Travis_Waldron) September 26, 2017
Those are all very reasonable points! Going further (as many have already), the idea that sports are united in any way is a laughable assertion; one of the main stories within the magazine, from Charlie Pierce, points out that Roger Goodell and the rest of the NFL leadership wants to remain as far from the actual politics involved as possible
This is why, over the weekend, we had so many owners framing the issue as a matter of standing behind their employees’ free-speech rights. The NFL power structure chose a relatively anodyne approach to the whole matter. It enabled the league to stay away from the issue that prompted the protests in the first place, the issue that very likely has kept Kaepernick from getting a job.
Pierce’s story is a solid summation of events, and certainly worth reading. It’s nuanced, well-informed, balanced, and very much not in line with the cover art chosen to promote it.
The choice to use Goodell, and to place him on equal footing with LeBron James and Steph Curry, is baffling. Aside from his general reticence to engage on this topic, and his league’s likely culpability in Colin Kaepernick’s unemployment, it’s not like there’s a lengthy history of good deeds and general competence propping up his stature in the sports world.
Just a baffling decision from Sports Illustrated. The advantage of print is that you don’t have to make split-second decisions for things like this. But it still feels rushed, and they’re paying the price for it. Damn good Photoshop work, though. Without context, you’d almost believe Roger Goodell stood for something.