• “I’m never going to watch another NFL game.”
  • “The NBA is dead to me. The players need to just shut up and dribble.”
  • “You won’t catch me going to any movie that they’re in.”
  • “I’ll pass on the awards show.”
  • “Play your damn music and quit preaching to me.”
Bill Field

Increasingly, these refrains are the drumbeat that’s voiced far more frequently and vociferously than ever before as entertainers, newscasters and sports figures use their platform to voice their personal views.  Boycotting is the cause du jour movement that many folks are falling back on.  Like it or not, people in the public spotlight are using their public persona to speak out on issues.  Many fans revel in it, while just as many are turned off.  It’s rapidly evolving into an either-or situation.  Which way you lean depends upon your personal beliefs or political motivations.  What‘s become of agreeing to disagree?  Now it’s often “my way or the highway” vitriol.  A sad state of affairs.

For many performers, professional sports leagues and brands, this is a very slippery slope.  Alienating a large percentage of your consumer audience is fraught with downside risks.  It’s no surprise that ratings for awards shows have fallen to dismal numbers  and, in some cases, miniscule levels.  Professional sports leagues − from the ballers of the NBA to the warriors of the NFL − are realizing fewer viewers based upon the public posture expressed by the players.  Many well-known authors are now crafting their political leanings into their writing.

People are increasingly turned off and voting with their wallets.  You can be assured that there are serious backroom discussions (well, Zoom teleconferences this year) about what diminished audiences mean for future revenue for all forms of sports and entertainment.  There is no question that it’s going to trickle down to the performers very soon.  Diminished financial returns for movie studios, TV networks, publishing houses and sports leagues are going to be manifested in decreased salaries. It’s Economics 101.  The day of reckoning is coming like a freight train down the track.

The question is who really loses when you boycott a performer or a performance?  Boycotting rarely accomplishes anything more than a momentary feeling of personal satisfaction.  Many powerful brands, the likes of Chick-fil-A and Goya, have withstood the boycott assault by advocacy groups led by passionate zealots.  In fact, as a result these brands have actually grown their revenue.   What wins over time is the value of the product and service far outweighing the boycott backlash.

It’s doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition.  By taking a hard line against personal opinions expressed by entertainers, musicians and sports figures, you’re potentially missing out on the art and enjoyment that you derive from it.  Yes, instead you can enjoy other forms of entertainment or other entertainers.  In the long run, however, you may lose.

At a time such as this in our world of daily turmoil, who couldn’t use more upbeat art in our lives?  COVID-19 has laid waste to the arts and entertainment industry.  With theaters having gone dark, it’s missed.  As the adage goes, art is in the eye of the beholder.  Shutting out the artist who delivers the art sets a dangerous precedent.  It not all black and white.  Shades of color in our lives are beneficial and healthy.  Art appreciation is distinctly personal.  We need more culture in our lives coming out of 2020.  Immersing in the arts is a form of healing.

You may dislike the artist based upon their political or societal views that may be dramatically different from yours.  It would be a real loss if you didn’t give yourself the opportunity to appreciate the art that is being delivered.  You don’t have to like or even respect the artist or athlete.  Just give their talent a chance to shine through.

Bill Field lives in Monroe.

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