WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 19: U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks while hosting the New England Patriots and team owner Robert Kraft during a celebration of the team's Super Bowl victory on the South Lawn at the White House April 19, 2017 in Washington, DC. It was the team's fifth Super Bowl victory since 1960. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Take a look around you on a busy day and it is likely you will see someone sporting a team jersey or other sports paraphernalia. Sports fans are everywhere and make up a significant portion of our population. Often, dedicated fans know the names, statistics, and other well-known facts about the players of the team they support. So, if team owners choose to make their political views public, should those views be taken into consideration? 

Why Political Opinions Matter

  • Team owners financially support politicians: Politicians are often endorsed by and on the receiving end of donations from certain sports players and team owners. In this way, players and team owners are contributing directly to the success of certain politicians. Donations to PACs are commonly a few thousand dollars and upwards, often totaling in the millions during election years. They are commonly made available for the public to view online, allowing them to form their own opinions by showing which politicians have been donated to by whom, as well as how much they have donated.
  • Sports players and team owners have significant social influence: Some would argue that because of the social following and audience influence that team owners often develop, their political views are important to take into account. Sports team owners often have a significant fan following, with tens to hundreds of thousands of followers, ranging in age. Both those of legal voting age as well as children, often look up to the owners of sports teams, aspiring to have that level of success in their own lives. Because of this, if sports team owners show their support for certain politicians, others who follow that person are likely to follow suit. Team owners have the potential to influence the opinions and votes of their followers, whether there is intent to or not. This level of social influence supports the idea that the political opinions of sports team owners may be something that matters.
  • Politics and sports often interact: Lastly, the worlds of sports and politics are certainly no strangers to one another. In fact, they interact often. For example, when teams win championship games, they go visit the White House. In addition, consider the number of politicians who were involved with sports prior to their career in politics, like Arnold Schwartzenegger, who started as a bodybuilder and later went on to become the Governor of California. Former NBA star Bill Bradley went on to become a New Jersey Senator. Several presidents, like Eisenhower, Ford, and Reagan, all played football during their college years. Presidents and other politicians are often seen showing their support for sports in person as well. They often attend games of the teams they support, making public appearances and possibly encouraging more attention to be placed on certain teams. Because sports and politics both have such strongly opinionated, faithful fans, they are able to influence those fans, often in support of one another, making the political opinions of sports team owners something significant.

However…

On the other hand, sports are at the end of the day, meant to entertain. If someone finds a significant amount of entertainment in supporting a certain team, they shouldn’t be made to feel bad for their opinion. Sports have the ability to bring people together, allowing them to cheer on those aiming for a common goal. While the opinions of sports team owners may need to be taken into consideration, the weight those opinions hold is up to each individual to decide. It is important to keep in mind that while certain people may own the team, they do not make up the team as a whole. Being a team fan does not necessarily mean you agree with everything the people involved with that team think. Enjoying the sport can often be what matters most.

It Depends

So do the opinions of sports team owners really matter? Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. Many sports fans hold the opinion that the views of team owners and players outside of the game do not matter, they are there to enjoy the sport without taking outside views into consideration. Others believe that the political views of team owners are important, as sports and politics often have an effect on one other. At the end of the day, it is up to each sports fan to decide whether politics is something they want to take into account while enjoying sports.

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