Politics are supposed to bring a country together, but in reality, they tend to separate it. Meanwhile, sports are the exact opposite. They’re supposed to separate rival fans for means of competition, yet they tend to unite people all over the world.
Yes, there are things that are similar between two of the most followed sectors in the world. However, this doesn’t mean that the two should be mixed.
In fact, history proves that this combination has caused harm to players, teams, leagues and even the sport as a whole.
One of the biggest examples of this was in 2015 with the FIFA corruption case. The arrests made in the case centered on the alleged use of bribery, fraud and money laundering to corrupt the issuing of media and marketing rights for FIFA games in the Americas, estimated at $150 million.
The indictment from the U.S. District Court alleged that the bribery was used to influence sponsorship contracts, the selection process for the 2010 FIFA World Cup host and the 2011 FIFA presidential election.
To the common sports fan, this political corruption inside the most popular sport in the world did nothing but what was stated above – make the league and the sport look bad.
So what good does it do to constantly put both sides in that situation?
The 1936 Olympics is a prime example of athletics and politics mixing poorly.
It was a time of racism, especially in the middle of Nazi Germany, as the Summer Olympics were being held in Berlin.
Jesse Owens, an African American track and field athlete, won four gold medals in front of more than 100,000 Germans, and was by far the most successful athlete at the games.
Even though he’s credited with single-handedly destroying Hitler’s myth of Aryan supremacy, it did nothing to change how he was treated.
He was still grossly mistreated and was barred from his own country from participating in any further sports competition. Because of the political state of the nation in both Germany and the United States, he went from racing in the Olympics to racing horses and dogs in less than a year.
Owens actually said that he wanted no part of politics when going to compete in Berlin. After getting no recognition from FDR, Owens is famously quoted as saying, “Hitler didn’t snub me; it was our president who snubbed me. The president didn’t even send a telegram.”
Was it perhaps one of the greatest showings in Olympics history? Absolutely.
But did it change the way that politicians treated people of a different race because of their beliefs at the time? Not at all.
To this day, athletes from different countries face hardships due to political policies.
Another problem with politics getting involved in sports is when the media focuses on athletes’ personal beliefs outside of the game.
For example, last September New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was being interviewed by the media and a “Make America Great Again” hat appeared in the bottom of his locker.
This caused people to lose their minds. With reason? I can’t think of a single one.
In reality, if Tom Brady is or isn’t a Trump supporter, who cares?
Everyone should be all for the media asking questions to players and coaches before and after games. But they forget the purpose of this – it’s to ask them about things that they do or don’t do in the game.
This doesn’t mean, however, that people are going to care if Brady or any other athlete support a certain political figure or party.
Outside of the game, professional athletes that are interviewed are regular people that vote just like everyone else. So why treat them differently?
All a breaking news report entitled “Tom Brady is an alleged Trump supporter” does is make the media look bad. It feeds the stereotype that the media will stretch things to make anything a story.
In cases like that, it truly does look that way. The fact that Brady is a Trump fan isn’t news. Leave it to the gossip columns and report on the actual sports news rather than spending the limited time with an athlete in a press conference asking about his or her political stance.
It brings the same relevance as asking a politician what their favorite football team is before choosing to vote for him or her – zero relevance at all.
Make sports great again and leave the politics out of it.