Saturday, August 29, 2020

Politicization of Sports: The Culture War Has Moved to Stadiums and Arenas

I have seen only one survey on the topic, but the increasing politicization of professional sports is apparently turning off a lot of fans. Players with multi-million dollar contracts are using their sports platforms to advance "social justice" agendas.

That survey, conducted in 2018 by pollster and friend John McLaughlin for the Media Research Center noted this:

"The survey found that when watching live sports or entertainment shows on television, 74 percent of likely voters said they are 'trying to get away from politics and do not want to be bombarded with partisan political messages,' and 43 percent said they were less likely to watch live sports and entertainment shows because they have become too political." 


I am the 43 percent.

Players, like anyone else, have the right to use their platforms most any way they want. But are there other, malevolent, foreign forces at work? Sports have long been one of the great unifiers of society. People on "The Left" and "The Right" cheer together here in Philly whenever one of their sports teams scores, or wins. Players aren't seen or judged by the color of the skin but the content of their talent and character on (and, frequently, off) the playing field.

Jason Whitlock is the co-owner of a new sports website, "Outkick," along with Clay Travis, that is giving voice to those of us who are turned off by these political outbursts and the destruction of sports culture. And it's affected every major professional league, including the NHL. I found bizarre the demands of something called the Hockey Diversity Alliance, a collective of a handful of well-paid current and former players "of color." They want to change the "blue line" to the "black line," at least temporarily. They want players to wear "blackout" practice jerseys during warmups. Never mind that the legendary Willie O'Ree, the first Black to play in the NHL, has been quietly but effectively working positively, for many years, with strong NHL support, to attract minorities into the sport, as has about every NHL team in its community (the Washington Capitals have done a great deal in DC). Really?

Whitlock recently delivered a speech (August 19) on this politicization that I highly recommend. From the speech:
"Yes, America is a shining example of sports’ transformative power. The games we play, the games at the center of our social behavior, combine with our founding principles to enhance the American experience. America’s enemies know this, which is why the culture war has moved to our arenas and stadiums. Sports are now in the same crosshairs as our Founding Fathers, under attack for past racial sins and unappreciated for their vital role in cultivating racial unity."

Fortunately, thanks to play being largely suspended from March until recently, I'm conditioned to watch and do other things and will continue to. And I suspect that I'm not alone.

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