The year is 1936. The world is in political turmoil and the Summer Olympics are being held in Nazi Germany. Jesse Owens stands poised on the highest pedestal, four medals around his neck, accompanying the national anthem with a solute. His performance was a direct affront to Hitler’s attempt to have an Aryan-dominated Games. This moment in sports history will be remembered for decades as a clash between athletics and politics.
Fast forward 83 years, and the most significant political moment in sports is the discovery of a “MAGA” hat in Tom Brady’s locker.
Contemporary sports society has a hard time separating professional athletes’ talents from their political views. It’s as if sports stars are expected to act like Supreme Court justices who are unable to favor any political side. However, unlike Supreme Court justices, the role of professional athletes in society has absolutely nothing to do with politics. Yet many players such as Tom Brady and Nick Bosa have been openly criticized for seemingly supporting President Trump or Republican ideals.
While professional athletes are role models who many people look up to, it is not their obligation to keep their political views from the public. These people are in the position that they are in for their talent and athleticism, not for their stance in the political world. Odds are that they did not major in political science; in fact, they probably didn’t even show up to the majority of their classes because they were too busy tearing apart their opposition (unless they were Ryan Fitzpatrick, what a nerd).
What’s even more absurd is that many of these athletes that get charged in the court of public opinion for their opposing views don’t even openly express their opinions. In Tom Brady’s case, a Make America Great Again hat was spotted in his locker by the media, leading to an immediate flood of criticism surrounding Brady and his character. Even though Brady was keeping his support of Trump hidden from the public, the media was able to discover his secret and expose him to society.
The truth is that professional athletes are humans just like the rest of us, superhuman physical qualities aside, and as such they are entitled to their own opinion. The American fanbase fails to recognize the fact that Trump won the election and therefore, a large portion of this country falls under the category of his supporters.
Chances are some of them are going to be present in the professional sports world. And it’s not like these guys are shouting their support from the rooftops. In fact, the majority of athletes who have had their political beliefs revealed have attempted to cover up their aforementioned political stance.
In Nick Bosa’s case,being drafted by the San Francisco 49er’s in the first round prompted him to delete any of his tweets that appeared to support Republican ideals. Many others have tried to hide or eliminate any traces of their political affiliations, out of fear that public criticism could somehow affect their career.
There needs to be a recognition amongst our society that there are varying political beliefs across the United States, and while you may not agree with the opposition, it should never affect your experience as a fan. As long as these players keep their political agenda separate from their professional careers, you shouldn’t be concerned with what that agenda entails.