I’m one of those “sports fans” RedState’s Caleb Howe mentioned in his piece this morning. Which is to say, I’d like my sports to be a little less encumbered by the politics of the day. But then, I’m personally steeped in politics pretty much from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed, nearly every day. So my personal wish to keep sports free of political soapboxing is likely biased and driven by sheer over exposure to the ugliness of politics.
But let’s assume, as someone pointed out to me, that it’s impossible to keep politics out of sports; and that many people like to have these cultural issues hashed out on the gridiron because maybe they wouldn’t have access to the issues if not for their appearance at the show they make sure to watch every week. Although the NFL ratings dip makes this a somewhat irrational thing to assume, for argument’s sake, we’ll assume it.
So you have this platform and you have an issue you’d like to bring awareness to. How do you inspire people to care?
Colin Kaepernick took a knee in protest to inspire. He wore socks showing police officers as pigs. He has promised to donate a lot of money to organizations that help oppressed communities. He got people talking about victimization. And he very nearly got a job again — where he could have continued to have that huge platform — until his girlfriend reportedly ruined the chance for him (at least according to Ray Lewis). He will likely never play another down in the NFL.
Then there’s Alejandro Villanueva, who also bucked the system by standing alone on the field during the anthem while the rest of his team took no stand either way. Villanueva stood and saluted. He wore his NFL jersey proudly, and a lot of other people will be wearing it proudly going forward. He got people talking about sacrifice. And he played Sunday.
Sports can be a very emotional and inspiring thing. The glory of victory and the agony of defeat. It mirrors war and embodies the triumph of the human spirit. And so perhaps it is impossible to remove politics from the sporting arena because politics has a role to play in man’s ability to surmount obstacles and survive long odds.
So I guess the question is: which of these approaches is the one that inspires real movement toward improvement? I don’t actually know. I’m watching this play out just like everyone else. But I can almost guarantee you it’s not this one (Kaepernick’s girlfriend, by the way):