Opinion: Politics has no place in sports

Another day of sports, another day of numerous athletes making political statements about how awful the country is that they make tens of millions of dollars in.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of the politics in the athletic community. As an avid basketball fan, I have really enjoyed the match-ups during the play-offs. There’s been some great basketball, records have been broken, but unfortunately the game itself has nearly been overshadowed by the politics it now contains.

NBA players now wear social justice messages on their jerseys, they kneel for the anthem, they use post-game interviews as a chance to bash politicians they don’t like, and this August, they walked off courts, nearly cancelling the season in protest.

Many other major sports leagues followed suit, including the WNBA, the MLB, and Major League Soccer. The athletic community has become increasingly political in the past year, largely because of the influence of athletes like LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Colin Kaepernick (who started the trend of kneeling during the National Anthem).

LeBron is someone that I have tremendous respect for as an athlete. He’s appearing in his 10th Finals, and has had one of the greatest NBA careers of all time. He also has been a great role model to young African Americans with his commitment to family, which I respect him even more for. However, LeBron has also been very vocal about his support of Democratic candidates, his opinions on major trials, and his desire to defund the police.

Now, I don’t want to be ignorant and say that athletes don’t have the right to speak about political issues. That is well within their liberties, and I don’t want my words to be misconstrued. But when where athletes stand politically becomes more important than how they play and who they are playing, that’s an issue.

Another problem is that entire leagues and associations are taking it upon themselves to choose sides.

For example, the NBA has now introduced a Black Lives Matter logo at center court. Now I have nothing against the meaning of that phrase, all Black lives do indeed matter, just as I believe Hispanic, Asian, and *gasp* even White lives matter (for some reason, saying this can be controversial, but it is my firm belief that every life matters).

The problem is not with the phrase itself, but the organization, whose leaders have identified themselves as trained Marxists, and is clearly a divisive rather than unifying organization. And now that the NBA has placed the logo on the floor, it’s hard to imagine them ever removing it, no matter what change comes.

Associations have taken it upon themselves to express their political opinions, and now if a player stands during the National Anthem, like Myers Leonard, or Jonathan Isaac, it becomes headline news. Never before was standing out of respect for your country seen as a bold statement.

When we introduce politics into entertainment, we are mixing things that, in my opinion, don’t belong together. I think the sports world has been an amazing industry that has allowed people of all backgrounds to join together and have unity, and even friendly rivalry.

And sports have been largely untouched by politics for many years! It was one of those topics that you could bring up with someone who you may disagree with on a lot of things and still have a civilized conversation with. Now even sports have become a place where fans are fed political news constantly.

If I’m sitting down to watch an NBA game, I don’t want to see anything about politics. I am looking for an escape from the polarizing nature of our Western culture. Athletic associations are not supposed to be political debates, just as how I don’t expect to see any highlight dunks from President Trump during Presidential debates.

And just so I’m clear, I don’t want to see anything from Republicans, Democrats, or any other political platform. There should not be a double standard for the party that you may favour. While I may agree more with remarks from Colby Covington, who has been loudly stating that he supports law enforcement and police work, and that he opposes LeBron, I still think that fans would rather see him fight than express his political opinions.

I don’t think it’s right when conservative athletes are applauded for their outspoken political views by the right-wing community, while liberal athletes are simultaneously ridiculed. And the same is true for the left’s response to conservative athletes. Athletes are not politicians, and unless they chose to run for office, I would rather see them play their respective sports.

In any other workplace, professionalism is key. All that athletes are being asked to do is to keep it professional and do their jobs. And, just as a reminder, most athletes are being paid millions to play their sport, not to use their platform to be a pseudo-politician.

Sports should be a place of entertainment, a place where opposing political minds can join together and watch incredible displays of athleticism. The less that politics play a role in sports, the better.

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