Do Politics Have a Place in Sports?


David D’Annibale, Staff Writer |

In 2020, athletes, coaches and teams have used their platforms to help advocate for the Black Lives Matter Movement that protests social injustices and police brutality. Major sports leagues such as the NFL, MLB and NBA have finally begun supporting athletes by allowing players to spread their message during games. One example of this is the NFL finally allowing players to have a message on the back of their helmet – like “end racism” or “stop hate”. However, some disagree with athletes participating in protest during games and feel that athletes should just focus on playing games and shouldn’t kneel during the national anthem because they feel it is disrespectful to the flag. I believe that players have the right to use their platform to protest and express their opinion on issues in our country and I feel when athletes come together to promote the BLM movement it displays unity, not disrespect.

The time for the sports industry to start supporting causes like the BLM Movement is long overdue. Back in 2016, Colin Kaepernick was one of the first athletes to take a knee during the anthem. Kaepernick faced negative consequences as after the season he was cut by the San Francisco 49ers and never received the opportunity to play again. After initially being unsupportive of his actions, I now realize Kaepernick was trying to open America’s eyes to the problems that were happening in our country that many were unwilling to recognize. Four years later, it leaves me wondering if incidents such as the tragic shooting of George Floyd or other victims of unnecessary brutality by police officers could have been prevented if more people had taken action with Kaepernick sooner.

Professional athletes are expected to be role models in our country  and by using Instagram or Twitter to spread their messages to millions of fans, it could impact younger generations as sports are popular among many growing up. To create change, people must be educated on the problems that exist in our country. When athletes stand together and lock arms before a game or all kneel together, it displays unity. During the first game of the NFL season, the Chiefs and Texans came together with locked arms before the game started and the fans booed the players. I believe fans shouldn’t have reacted that way but that is why the athletes are participating in the current movement: to help change the opinion of people who don’t understand.

The greatest example I have seen was back in August after the shooting of Jacob Blake. Sports leagues across the United States postponed games, matches and practices in response to the shooting. A baseball game between the Marlins and Mets was scheduled to be played on Aug. 27 but the game was postponed after both teams decided not to play. The teams instead walked onto the field and stood together for a 42 second moment of silence then Marlin’s outfielder Lewis Brinson placed a Black Lives Matter T-shirt on the Homeplate. Both teams then left the field and other teams across the MLB canceled their games as well. The reason this game stood out to me was that I could see how distraught players were about the shooting and how affected they were by what happened with Blake.

Athletes deserve to have their voices heard and have the right to advocate for changes in our country. By athletes using their platform to support change, it will finally make it impossible to ignore big issues in our country. Players should express their opinions on politics because many are viewed as role models. America is currently divided and seeing teams stand together gives me a glimmer of hope that we can one day stand together. We should support athletes, coaches and teams in promoting equality and change in our country.

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