America’s pro sports leagues are generally risk-averse. With millions of dollars in profits at stake, there’s little upside to offending customers by taking positions on social issues. That’s why it’s extraordinary — and laudable — that the National Basketball Association teamed up with Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety organization for a series of public message about gun violence.
On Christmas, the advocacy group began running public service announcements on TV with Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers and Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks speaking in personal terms about gun violence. The NBA stars are joined by victims of gun violence and relatives of those killed by guns.
Though heartfelt, the 30-second PSAs steer clear of policy proposals that could alienate viewers who feel their Second Amendment rights might be jeopardized by gun-safety legislation. This reflects a newer, smarter strategy by the group launched by the former New York City mayor. There is nothing controversial about calling for an end to gun violence, particularly given the toll from mass killings in 2015.
Even so, it could not have been easy for the NBA to put its prestige on the line by aligning with a group that ultimately wants to limit access to guns. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait years before the NFL, NHL and MLB are confident enough to add their voices.