Sports and the Political Agenda

I don’t know if this is happening outside of Cardinal Nation, but there is a segment of fans that are struggling with the fact that the Cardinals are going to do a “unified” gesture on opening day for Black Lives Matter. I see multiple issues with these “struggles”.

First off, BLM is not a political movement; it’s a social issue and baseball used to be on the forefront of social issues. I’m sure many readers remember the movie A League of their Own. Woman playing baseball was a social issue and I bet quite a few men didn’t want to see “women playing a man’s game.” Remember Jackie Robinson? Adding an African American player was a social issue and I guarantee many fans were going to “no longer be a fan of the Dodgers.” Hell, opposing players didn’t want to be on the same field as him. MLB missed an opportunity to be at the front of social reform for this; part of that is because of the lack of African Americans in the game, from players to front office executives.

Secondly, players kneeling during the National Anthem will not impact baseball. I’ve seen this statement across social media: “Keep the politics out of the game.” Since the National Anthem is prior to the game, and not always televised, it won’t “impact” the game or the play. If people would keep an open mind and not make it an issue, the commentators would not mention it during the broadcast; now that it’s a deal, I can guarantee Danny Mac will say something when the Cardinals take the field tonight (after social media was filled with shots of the Yankees/Nationals and Mookie Betts).

If you want politics out of the game, how about looking at which owners make political contributions? What if we chastised owners who lobbied Congress for minor leaguers to be exempt from minimum wage laws? Those are bigger political issues than kneeling during the anthem.

Athletes have a public profile and are influencers on the youth; that profile is a platform that many activists don’t have. Sure, Charles Barkley didn’t want to be a role model and Michael Jordan believed Republicans bought sneakers too, but they had a voice the normal person doesn’t. Colin Kaepernick proved this with his kneeling, and it cost him his career. And this isn’t the first time something like this has happened in baseball; Carlos Delgado would sit during God Bless America in 2004 because he felt the U.S. should not have been at war with Iraq and Afghanistan. At the time, that got a little media play but not the outrage we’ve seen with Kaepernick and kneeling in sports.

The thing I keep coming back to is those people that felt Jackie Robinson didn’t have a place in the MLB; if the other players, the coaches, and the executives would have listened to the vocal minority, the color barrier wouldn’t have been broken at that time, which could have set the Civil Rights Movement back. Maybe some of those against Robinson never came back to watch a game; maybe the game is better for it too.

Agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments. Just note that comments that are derogatory or trolling will be removed.

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