“Shut Up and Dribble” Why Politics and Sports Belong Together

I get it. You’re tired of watching Tucker Carlson on Fox News blabbering about how our country is going to shit. You’re tired of watching Don Lemon rant about President Trump for three straight hours. You’re tired of MAGA hats, and Not My President bumper stickers, and screaming pundits. You’re tired of a politicized world.

After experiencing all of these different emotions, philosophies and ideologies, you want to go home, turn on the TV and watch 22 adults run up and down a field trying to tackle each other without any infiltration of the rampant politicization that stresses your mind.

I can sympathize with the idea that sports are used as a way to entertain and relax, without the pain, divisions, and rhetoric of politics. However, the idea that there should be no overlap between sports and politics is a harmful and ultimately unfair restriction to put on such a complex and ubiquitous aspect of our society.

Every night millions of Americans watch athletes like Lebron James perform outrageous, unbelievable acts, jeopardizing his body, to entertain the masses. If LeBron decides to share his political opinion after giving us 48 minutes of joy, shock, and adoration, he has all the power to do so. What people who want politics out of sports fail to realize is this: Lebron is a politician by the same design as Hillary Clinton or Mitt Romney.

We look to Lebron to exhibit policies of human leadership, bravery and courage just like we look to Cory Booker to deliver us policies on immigration. When LeBron decides to speak out on Black Lives Matter, Prison Reform, or the gross misbehavior of our president he deserves to be listened to, not told to “shut up and dribble,”

While athletes like Colin Kaepernick, Michael Bennett, and LeBron James may be criticized for bringing politics into sports, the critics tend to turn a blind eye to other actors in sports that tango with political affiliation. Every year owners pour millions of dollars into political campaigns, organizations, and PACs. Why are they not crucified for tainting our unpolluted sweet immaculate sports spectacle with dirty, corruptive politics?

NFL owners donated $7.75 million dollars to Donald Trump’s inaugural campaign. Where were the tears from Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson? What about when the U.S. military hands over millions of dollars in exchange for the singing of the National Anthem and pre-game military flyovers? You don’t hear your uncle bitching and moaning about that political activism, do you?

Athletes, fans, owners, and the media should all be encouraged to express themselves politically in the sports forum. An athlete voicing his or her political opinion should not be cause for concern or to boycott and protest the NFL. Rather, this should be viewed as an opportunity for sports fans, to become civically engaged and gain a better understanding of the political atmosphere they live in.  

-Mason Leib



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