Sticking to Sports

Matt Traverso, Staff Writer

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In this day and age, it’s almost impossible to stay out of politics. In some way, it will affect people, whether they want it to or not. A major case of this is professional athletes or sports writers speaking for or against the current state of our political climate. Of course, the most relevant topics of this subject right now are professional athletes not visiting the White House, and athletes protesting social injustices during the National Anthem. A common response to when an athlete or sports writer says or tweets their views is “stick to sports”, and this brings up the question. Should professional athletes “stick to sports”, and keep their political opinions to themselves? A tradition of professional sports for many years has been the championship team from each year visiting to the White House. This year, the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors have been hesitating to visit the White House, and their two star players, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, stated that if their team chooses to visit the White House, they will not be joining them. They said that they do not want to visit the White House and meet a President who has very differing opinions from their own. Recently, Donald Trump tweeted that he would be formally taking away their invitation to the White House. This received mixed reviews, with some saying that the Warriors should’ve been honored to have the opportunity, and others saying that you can’t take away an invitation when someone says that they wouldn’t have been attending anyway. After this, LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who had lost to the Warriors in the NBA Finals, backed up Stephen Curry. So did other current and former NBA players, including Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, David West, Robin Lopez, and San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. In addition to this, an investigation by the Washington Post was done and found that seventeen pro sports teams used to stay at Donald Trump’s hotels, and now only one of those seventeen still do. They found that this started after the 2014-2015 NBA Season when the Indiana Pacers stopped attending his hotels. The latest of the 16 teams who have stopped going to Trump’s hotels were the Carolina Hurricanes of the NHL, who stopped after last season. After a 27-10 win against the against the Oakland Raiders, Washington Redskins’ cornerback Josh Norman spoke out against Donald Trump, specifically about what he said about players kneeling for the National Anthem. Of course, Norman received the “stick to sports” criticism. When asked if a post game interview is the wrong time to speak your political beliefs, sophomore Granger Ottley said, “Yes. I think any kind of activism outside of the game is acceptable in the use of their First Amendment right. However, when it comes to the game itself, viewers watch to see football played it it’s purest form, without nonsense of what’s going on outside.” When asked if anything like this has been an issue here at the high school, Athletic Director Sirico said, “Our feeling at Warwick in terms of athletics is that we should always represent our school the appropriate way at contests, but if they want to be involved in a cause, or they feel the need to support a movement to do those types of things and represent and be involved in those movements, they can. We had a player that went down to the Minority Leadership Conference in Washington D.C., and that was a time he missed a game to do that, but he felt that the cause was important. So we support people supporting causes, but we really like to keep the Athletic Department representing our school about athletics and representing our school.” These are two similar opinions, saying athletes have a right to support a cause, but outside of the game. Josh Norman tweeted that he would be donating $100,000 to Puerto Rico for hurricane relief. In these tweets, Josh Norman called out President Trump again, saying it’s sad that he went golfing instead of aiding people in Puerto Rico. He didn’t receive criticism for his donations, but didn’t receive good responses on his attacks on Trump. If Josh Norman were to completely “stick to sports”, he wouldn’t have donated money for hurricane relief. Shortly after the issues that happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive end Chris Long delivered a quote as to why himself and other athletes shouldn’t “stick to sports”. Chris Long is from Charlottesville, Virginia, attended the University of Virginia, and felt that the white supremacists who were in his hometown misrepresented it. Chris Long has always been outspoken on his political beliefs before, and now said why he should be able to. To try to combat the negativity going on in his hometown, Chris Long announced that he would be donating the checks from every NFL game he plays this season to pay for scholarships for students. Another example of a good outcome from an athlete choosing to take action for a political reason. Telling a professional athlete or writer to keep their beliefs to themselves is assuming that they value a sport over everything else. Sports may be an escape from politics for people, but the reality is that current events can affect a professional athlete just as much as it can affect others. Rather than telling a professional athlete to “stick to sports” because you disagree with them, maybe try to understand their perspective.

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Sticking to Sports