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Keep Politics Out of Sports

Last updated on August 17, 2020

(Photo Credit: Tim Gouw/ Unsplash)

Remember, let’s be polite; let’s be respectful, but most of all, let’s be outspoken.

I care about a lot of things: the increasing power of China, the growing threat of climate breakdown, and the global economic fallout that will occur in the aftermath of this pandemic. However, I really could not care less about sports. The anticipation of who sports recruiters will sign off from the sea of college seniors or which athlete will have a good season doesn’t spark my interest.

In all honesty, I cannot even name twenty athletes off the top of my head. I can name more congressmen and presidents than any athlete from any sport.

That’s not to say I cannot enjoy watching sports games. Every year, I watch the Super Bowl with my family and friends. Every four years, I watch the World Cup. Even though I cannot name a single athlete currently playing, I admit that the suspense of who is going to win is always exhilarating.

Yet, I am concerned with what the increase in politics in sports is doing for our society. Back in February, I watched the Super Bowl with my family and texted my friends during the events of the game. During a commercial break, two political ads appeared.

The first ad came from Former NY mayor Michael Bloomberg. At the time, he was running for President and spent millions on ads. Bloomberg’s ads were about gun control and attacking Trump.

The gun control ad featured a mother who lost her son in a shooting, and the second attacked Trump’s leadership skills. When it was over, I talked to my Dad about how Bloomberg might be one of the few democrats I would support based on policy. He and I argued for a few minutes and then continued watching ads.

Another ad was from Trump who talked about criminal justice reform. The video showed Alice Johnson, who was convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to life, thanking Trump for giving her parole.

When those ads aired, I remembered my friends getting into arguments about which candidate would be a better President. They argued the effect of gun control and criminal justice reform even when the game was playing.

Unfortunately, even though sports screeched to a halt for four months, the first baseball game still resulted in heated political discussions.

According to CBS Sports, on July 23rd, the Major League Baseball kicked off its opening day with a “two-game slate featuring Yankees-Nationals and Dodgers-Giants.” Within the game, several baseball players took a knee before the national anthem played. Reuters reports, “Every member of all four teams playing on Major League Baseball’s Opening Day took a knee to protest racial inequality prior to the playing of the U.S. national anthem on Thursday.”

When asked about kneeling, San Fransisco Giants manage Gabe Kapler said, “I wanted them to know that I wasn’t pleased with the way our country has handled police brutality and I told them I wanted to amplify their voices and I wanted to amplify the voice of the Black community and marginalized communities as well.”

To be clear, these baseball players have every right to do this. Nobody is disregarding their first amendment right to protest whatever and whenever they want. To add on, I do not even take issue with how they or what they protested.

In most instances, depending on the intention, I am strongly against kneeling during the national anthem because it is disrespectful. However, they did kneel before the national anthem and stood while it played. I also agree with their message of police brutality.

However, sports is something that we watch to get away from the mayhem in the world. Even though I constantly regard sports as uninteresting, it still allows me to grow bonds with my family and friends. A few months ago, I went to a live football game and felt closer to the friends I sat next to in the blazing heat for three hours.

When we turn on the TV to watch a game, we are trying to escape from the stress of the world. This is true for movies, restaurants, social gatherings, and bars. Even though there is an increasing political presence in movies, we do not expect a lecture on the payroll tax or universal healthcare from a Marvel movie.

My point is if these athletes want to continue protesting during the national anthem or throughout the game, that’s their prerogative. However, it may ruin bonds over sports through political arguments and may lead to a wide disinterest in watching sports. These days, politics has become so integrated within even the most menial aspects of our lives.

When people finish a day filled with the stress of how they are going to pay the bills during a time of mass economic uncertainty or losing a loved one to the Coronavirus, I would imagine they do not want to begin a political debate with their family because of the athletes protesting on their screen.

Remember, let’s be polite; let’s be respectful, but most of all, let’s be outspoken.

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