The Haystack

Politics and Sports Do Not Mix

Brendan Jordan, Sports Editor

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Politics and sports have clashed together in recent news, as the biggest story revolves around the continued protests by NFL players and coaches by taking a knee during the National Anthem before their game. Many fans are praising the protests, while others believe that it’s disrespectful and has no place in professional sports. Personally, I am a believer in the latter.

Now folks, don’t get me wrong, I believe in the right to protest, and I believe that it is everyone’s given right as a U.S. citizen to point out flaws that they see in the country. However, I think that professional sports is not the type of platform to be having these protests.

The benefits of a professional sports game is to entertain the fans. It’s the job of the players to perform well and bring their best work to the playing field to provide said entertainment. It is generally understood that professional athletes are to come to their arena focused and ready to win the game. With these protests arising, the importance of focusing on the game and visualizing success is being blocked by a reporter begging for an answer to a question about whether or not said player will stand or sit for a every-game singing of the national anthem.

Professional athletes have every right to express how they feel about politics, for there is no rule in sports that says they can’t do so. However, if these expressions distract players from the job that they have on the field, they need to be eliminated from the player’s mind for the time being, for it would cause too big of a distraction for the player. I believe that every professional sports coach would agree with me. In fact, John Tortorella, head coach of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets and former head coach of Team USA’s World Cup of Hockey team stated in an interview in 2016 with ESPN that, “Any player who sits on the bench for the anthem will sit there for the rest of the game.” I believe that this is the attitude that every coach and staff member of a professional sports franchise should act towards players not focusing on the task they have at hand.

Even in youth sports, the idea of being focused for a game is emphasized as a crucial piece of preparation. I mean, if I were to walk into my locker room worried about the test score I got on my English final rather than focusing on the game, I would be scolded and told to focus on the game instead, because realistically, it is the task at hand that I should be worrying about the most. Professional coaches don’t seem to get that idea, and I believe this could be extremely hazardous to the world of sports and specific franchises who partake in these types of actions. For example, I know that I wouldn’t want to see the Broncos become too distracted by the anthem protests to not perform well against a team like the Buffalo Bills… oh wait…

Overall, I am a strong supporter in peaceful protests, and I really do think that they have huge impacts on the world when done properly. But when it enters the world of sports and becomes a distraction to the athletes performing, it needs to come to a stop and take on a different platform. I would hate to see my favorite sports team struggle because they were too focused on their political beliefs to actually show up and perform for their game. Therefore, I believe that politics and sports should sway away from each other for the best interests of fans, players, and professional sports franchises themselves.

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Politics and Sports Do Not Mix