No matter which political side you identify with, it cannot be denied that politics has slowly found its way into many hobbies that one may enjoy. From political ideas expressed in video games, paintings, music, etc. it seems as if everything surrounds politics nowadays. With the election of the current President of the United States, Donald Trump, the U.S. has found itself amidst a divided political landscape struggling to keep two sides of said landscape from fighting one another. While many had never thought that politics would make its way into sports, they were surprised when on September 23rd, the president rescinded an invitation to visit the White House from basketball star, Steph Curry, over Curry’s public statement that he didn’t want to visit the White House because of the implied message that it would send to his fans and the rest of his community.
Turning his attention away from the National Basketball Association, Trump later made a statement regarding the NFL later that afternoon. In it he stated, “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!” None of the statements made by the president were explicitly about racial issues within the U.S., however, he did draw the attention of many news outlets as well as notable athletes within both the NBA and NFL. The next day, on September 24, 2017, the President once again made headlines when he decided to state his opinions of NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem. Making statements both online and to the public, Trump urged NFL fans to boycott games in response to kneeling players. In response to the statements made by the presidents, nearly half of the NFL’s 32 owners issues statements, including the New England Patriot’s owner Robert Kraft, who wrote that he was “deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the President on Friday.” In 2017, we see more division than we see unity, and many individuals realize that. Continuing in his statement, Robert Kraft wrote, “There is no greater unifier in this country than sports and, unfortunately, nothing more divisive than politics,”Kraft wrote in his statement. “I think our political leaders could learn a lot from the lessons of teamwork and the importance of working together toward a common goal. Our players are intelligent, thoughtful and care deeply about our community and I support their right to peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner that they feel is most impactful.” But with the current controversy aside, sports and politics are not exactly a new pairing.
From Jackie Robinson, Muhammed Ali, Venus Williams, etc. sports have been an outlet for activism for several decades now. However, it is all too simple to dismiss the importance of sports in relation to politics in today’s societal climate. That is why it is our job to make sure that our voices are heard, no matter if we identify as conservative liberal, or independent, no matter if we are a football player, or a bartender. In these tumultuous times America needs voices and opinions now more than ever. But most of all, the U.S. needs unification, whether that takes the form in sports or art, it is vital for this countries prosperity.