Should we put an end to politics in the sports industry?
It is a common sentence uttered by those who have not seen a mirror in years.
Not the mirror that reflects a sleepy face in the morning while a razor scrapes across stubble, but a mirror that shows the soul, the internal being, the heart that makes one tick.
Then sentence is simple, irritating, and senseless. “I watch sports to get away. It’s an escape from the real world.” Nails on a chalkboard, screeching brakes on a rusty Ford, a baby screaming for something it can’t have.
The empowerment of the athlete is nothing new to this generation. It was made most popular by Muhammed Ali, a man who voiced his opinion and gave up some of his career for his cause. It was polarizing to sports fans around the world. It made him an icon, a scapegoat, an effigy.
The truth is, we listened to him — whether we agreed with him or not — and his popularity was only exacerbated by his ability to capture a crowd, for better or worse. He, in short, became an empowered athlete.
It was a power he asked for and one that the public gathered around and gave him.
Sports are no longer entertainment. It ceased being entertainment when it became part of our holiday celebrations, part of our everyday lexicon, wrapped in American sentiment and displayed on a pedestal.
We don’t say our favorite team lost, we say “we” lost. It has become a cultural identity, a way to associate with a moral compass, a direction of progression and stability and an easy way to describe who you might be at heart. Being a fan of a certain team says something personal about you without words or gestures.
This fandom has created superstars out of ordinary people with extraordinary gifts. The sport’s celebrity has become synonymous with any celebrity, cinema or otherwise, around the globe giving them tremendous tout and pull in almost every social situation. We hardly seem perturbed by this until it goes against our grain, until someone displaces the moral fibers that cover our frozen minds.
Sports aren’t supposed to make us think about global issues, they’re supposed to only entertain.
We love to impregnate all sports with categorized statistics within scholastic subjects that induce intellectual discussion and prognostication. Math is the most obvious intruder, with a healthy dose of history by its side. We occasionally get into physics and science and even like to dabble in language (Think Peyton Manning yelling “Omaha” over and over again!)
Nutrition and physical education always make a come up and it isn’t surprising when art and aesthetics make an appearance when noting a specific teams colors or the way Walter Peyton practiced ballet both on and off the field. Economics is always a safe bet when diving into specifics as well.
Safe to say that all sports fans have certainly crossed into one or more of these subjects to make a point.
But politics is where it suddenly must stop. The rabid sports fan is commonly offended when his or her athlete spouts off at the mouth about something they believe in. Objectification of the human in a sports uniform; you are meant to play said sport, not to give a dissertation on the state of the world.
But the power of an audience is already there. It has been given to them by the fans; the power has been delivered to the athlete with a special note attached that reads: Do Not Use. We have given the athlete all the power in the world and then get upset when they use it.
Don’t forget to look into a mirror before you pass judgement, your soul is showing.