Hall Of Famer Takes A Stand For Privilege As Black People Continue To Die Of Covid

The combination of former Utah Jazz players John Stockton and Karl Malone is known for the pick-and-roll basketball play. Now, the pair is known for exhibiting callous and disturbing behavior.

The world already knew that Karl Malone was a creep. But John Stockton?

Stockton, an NBA Hall of Fame basketball player and alumnus of Gonzaga University, where he starred as the team’s point guard from 1980 to 1984, recently had his season tickets to Gonzaga basketball games suspended because he refused to wear a mask at home games.

Stockton appeared in a documentary titled, “Covid and the Vaccine: Truth, Lies and Misconceptions Revealed.” He is against vaccine and mask mandates and said in an interview:

“… And I think it’s highly recorded now, there’s 150 I believe now – it’s over 100 professional athletes dead, professional athletes, the prime of their life, dropping dead that are vaccinated, right on the pitch, right on the field, right on the court.”

Name them, Mr. Stockton. Name them and give us your sources — sources other than a list of YouTube videos.

Stockton isn’t the first athlete, current or retired, to make bogus claims about the covid-19 vaccine or mask wearing. Other such folks, including NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers, have done so on whatever platform was made available to them.

Stockton says that he admires Rodgers, who like Stockton, has also done his own research for hours on end. I wonder if they’re in the same study group.

Stockton cites Centers for Disease Control statistics in that same interview to say that the covid vaccine is dangerous. However, he fails to cite the CDC when they say, “Masks are a simple barrier to help prevent your respiratory droplets from reaching others. Studies show that masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth. You should wear a mask, even if you do not feel sick.” 

I wonder why?

When it comes to covid-19, specifically mask wearing, vaccines and mandates, people have opinions. Folks are certainly entitled to them. However, opinions can be dangerous when they put the lives of others at risk, let alone inconveniencing one’s day.

There is also an element of privilege at play for some … white privilege.

Not that there aren’t or haven’t been Black people against wearing masks or taking the covid-19 vaccine, but Black people are more likely to wear a mask consistently than white people – that’s despite the danger for Black people of wearing a mask in public, because of racism of course.

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I presume that would be another reason to not mandate mask wearing for Stockton. That’s probably because white men specifically report comparatively fewer experiences with negative life events, including illness and stress. Thus, they tend to see less risk around them more generally. In addition, white men are more likely than women and minorities to hold individualistic worldviews and place greater trust in authority figures. They are consequently more likely to feel protected and insulated from surrounding threats.

Meanwhile, Black people continue to die due to covid-19 at rates disproportionate to white people and are at greater risk for hospitalization.

Stockton is a grown adult and ultimately, if he doesn’t want to wear a mask, he won’t. But if he chooses not to follow the rules, he’ll pay the consequences, like having his season tickets suspended. I’m sure he’ll get over it. It’s not like he lost his job because of his stance … Aaron Rodgers certainly hasn’t and neither have other players. And yet, Colin Kaepernick remains in exile from NFL for simply calling out racism and anti-Blackness.

Funny how that works.

Rann Miller is the director of anti-bias and DEI initiatives as well as a high school social studies teacher for a school district located in Southern New Jersey. He’s also a freelance writer and founder of the Urban Education Mixtape, supporting urban educators and parents of students in urban schools. You can follow him on Twitter @UrbanEdDJ .

Photo: Former Utah Jazz and Gonzaga player John Stockton talks about his career during a National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame induction event, Nov. 19, 2017, in Kansas City, Mo. Gonzaga suspended Stockton’s basketball season tickets after the Hall of Fame point guard refused to comply with the university’s mask mandate. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley, File)

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