American Sports: Should They be Separated from Politics?

By Zayna Abuhakema

We need to seperate sports and politics. But also recognize that they’re inseparable.” -Kenan Malek

I personally took quite an interest to this topic of discussion. In class, we looked at an article written by a Davidson College graduate, which was her response to the backlash she was receiving from her decision to not wear a Black Lives Matter shirt, and to stand for the national anthem during a basketball game. There were so many questions surrounding her decisions. Why did she not wear the shirt just to support her black teammates? Why did she not simply kneel with her team to show solidation? Why is she being called a racist for standing by her principles? Along with these questions, come so many differing answers. There is no true right answer. This is just one of the many examples of athletes taking a stand during a televised game, and being criticized for the decision they make, no matter what it was.

My stance on this issue is complicated, because the issue is complicated. In simple terms, it is impossible to separate politics from sports. Should we? Absolutely. Students and professional athletes should be able to participate in what they love, and focus on that thing without having to worry about the public watching their every move. However, again, this just is not feasible. When an athlete chooses to make a stand during a public game, knowing people are watching, they should expect differing responses to that action. Also however, those watching should, in theory, allow that person to do as they please. They are simply sticking to their morals and doing what they believe is right, but because they are publicized, they are under scrutiny of basically the entire country. So who is introducing politics into sports? The athlete or the fans? The answer, I believe, is neither. The athlete is doing what they believe is right, and the fans are reacting with their opinions. Neither party is at fault. Because both of these things occur, politics become a factor.

This issue goes back years and years, and it will continue for years to come. We all know about Jackie Robinson, for example. He was the first African American man to play in the MLB. It was of course, an incredible breakthrough. Surely it would not become political, right? Wrong. It raised much criticism from the public of that time, and he was brought so much hate from simply playing the game that he loved, because he was black. Although I completely disagree with the actions of most people at this time, this instance also supports this sort of cause and effect theory. The MLB allowed Robinson to play, during a time in history where so many Americans had been brought up with discrimination, and continues to believe in it. The effect of this, was the backlash they received from the discriminatory public. It is awful, absolutely. However, that reaction should have been expected at that time in history.

With all that being said, I fully agree with the stance that politics should not be a part of sports. But, I am also aware that it will be whether we like it or not. Politics are a part of everything in our lives these days. We see it with things like practicing faith, choosing a school, finding a job, and more. So much can be said about how politics negatively impacts our lives in various ways, and in every way, it is impossible to be rid of it. We will all have differing stances and ideas on every action or subject we encounter, and the only true way to combat that, would be for everyone to agree. Which, again, is simply impossible. Once we come to terms with this, it may be easier to live with this looming political weight on our shoulders.

This photo was taken from The Federalist.

Zayna Abuhakema is a sophomore from Charleston, South Carolina, majoring in physics at Davidson College.