A common phrase circulating mainstream media today is “stick to sports.” Essentially, this means, people are calling for athletes to do nothing other than play their sport. That is an impossible task. Politics have always been a part of sports and sports have always been a part of politics. Whether we like it or not, that will probably not change any time soon.
Sports and Politics Will Always Be Linked
Politics Using Sport
Every American sports game starts the same way, with the playing of the national anthem. Occasionally, there will be a flyover of military jets or helicopters or the honoring of a veteran. By no means is that a bad thing, but it is far from separating sports and politics.
Sports and politics are linked in so many ways. One of the most powerful sporting moments was President George W. Bush throwing out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium following the events of September 11, 2001, in New York City. At that moment, a powerful political figure used sports as a medium to reach the American public and it worked extremely well.
Typically, sports are consumed by the majority of the world. That makes sports a perfect vehicle to try and unify or rally behind a cause. Of course, there are other ways to do so, but sports are at the top of that list.
Sports Using Politics
It also goes the other way. Sports can use politics for their needs. First, the NCAA is lobbying with the United States Congress on a Name, Image, and Likeness policy that could allow student-athletes to receive payment while playing. When it comes to governing the NCAA, politics is needed to approve rules and alter the college landscape.
Additionally, sports betting has been a hot topic of late. The sports betting industry is growing astronomically and states are approving its legality over time. Truthfully, sports betting is a perfect link to sports and politics because you can’t have one without the other. You can easily log onto BetNow Sportsbook and place any wager you want.
Much like the picture of President Bush throwing out the first pitch, the picture of John Carlos and Tommie Smith raising their fists on the podium at the 1968 Olympics is iconic. On the biggest stage of their lives, these gentlemen decided to make a statement for a social cause that was close to their hearts.
The Link of Sports and Politics
The key point is that politics are part of everyday life for everyone. That means politics are deeply rooted in the everyday life of athletes, making it impossible to “stick to sports.” Currently, we are witnessing a social justice charge being championed by the NBA, WNBA, and NFL. Players are speaking out, encouraging voting, and creating coalitions to aid social justice reform. If normal citizens did this, no one would bat an eyelash. However, athletes are not viewed as normal citizens, rather just sources of entertainment. So, people do not use things that they disagree with as a source of entertainment, creating that “stick to sports” narrative.
A lot of the discontent comes from the idea that people want to use sports to escape politics or daily life. In order for sports to be devoid of any sort of societal implications, athletes would have to be emotionless humans. That will never happen. As society moves on, more players are finding their voices and using their platforms for causes they believe in.
Take the cancer awareness movement, for example. Many athletes and their families have been affected by cancer leading to the charitable contributions by professional sports leagues everywhere. These athletes and leagues are using their platforms to raise awareness for their personal causes.
What has happened in recent weeks with athletes pushing for social justice is no different. Social equality is a cause everyone can support and sport is a vehicle that can be used to achieve it.
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