As more and more members of America’s sports scene turn their position as players and reporters into a platform to rant on politics, fans increasingly demand that they “stick to sports” and leave politics to others. But The New York Times now defends the politicized sports scene, saying that destroying Donald Trump is more important than sports.
For The New York Times, in a February 14 article, writer Jay Caspian Kang addressed the question, “Should athletes stick to sports,” by insisting that they should, indeed, get as political as they can.
“For the past few months, the sports media has been embroiled in a fight over ‘stick to sports,'” Kang wrote. “The phrase comes from a common online rebuke directed at sportswriters and pundits and players and coaches and anyone in the world of sports, really, who takes a political stance on anything that doesn’t occur on a field or a court or in a locker room or front office.”
Kang notes that in the past American sports leagues paid homage to political issues of the past (Jackie Robinson’s breaking of the color barrier, Muhammad Ai’s stance on Vietnam, etc.) but they usually left modern politics alone.
But, now, thanks to Trump, politics is in everything, Kang insisted.
Kang specifically — and erroneously — cites the fear some had that Milwaukee Bucks player Thon Maker wouldn’t be allowed back in the U.S. after playing a game in Toronto, Canada, due to Donald Trump’s temporary travel order. Maker is from Australia, but his parents emigrated there from Sudan.
The truth is, Maker had no trouble at all getting back in the U.S. despite Trump’s travel order, but the paper insists that Maker was “directly affected by Trump’s policies.”
In fact, there isn’t a single player or reporter in all of American sports that has been impacted by Donald Trump’s travel order. Yet, Kang cites this as an important reason why sportsmen and sports writers should use their sports platform to push left-wing political causes.
Kang next notes that players, especially, should turn political because members of the sports media keep bugging people about their political positions.
This, the writer insists, must make players turn to politics, because, “…as players continue to be asked about their political beliefs by reporters — especially as the international players in basketball and baseball are prompted to talk about immigration — they have an opportunity to give voice to resistance.”
Kang praised the members of the Women’s National Basketball Association for turning their sport into a mass protest in favor of the violent and racist Black Lives Matter movement and said it is a “model” for all sports.
The Times writer ended by noting that Trump may be susceptible to players attacking him because the president has a long history of interest in sports. Trump has been involved in football, hosted professional boxing matches, and is famously chummy with members of the Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots. Because of Trump’s passionate interest in sports, Kang said, players should attack Trump with gusto because he just might be persuaded.
The writer’s conceit is absurd, though. People rarely change their point of view after being called names. Such combative behavior usually causes people to cement their views, not moderate them. If Kang thinks constant broadsides from players will change Trump’s mind, it is clear that he doesn’t even understand why so many are raising the call to “stick to sports.”
People aren’t sick and tired of sports in politics because they want to oppress players from having opinions on politics. They just want their sports to be a place to get away from the harsh realities of life and to watch their sports for enjoyment.
Someone needs to tell Jay Caspian Kang that all of life doesn’t have to be about politics.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.