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Some Thoughts About Mixing Politics With Sports

It’s always interesting to hear people say they don’t want politics mixing with sports. The reality is that politics is mixed with sports every single day, and has been for years, without much complaint.

Take, for example, the sports world’s relentless celebration of the military to the near-exclusion of all other sectors of society — a celebration that includes camouflage uniforms, jet flyovers, “veteran of the game” promotions, and more. Whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, relentlessly celebrating the military in a civilian-run society is an inherently political act. And conflating support for the military with patriotism, which the sports world also makes a habit of, is an even more overtly political act.

Similarly, repeatedly wrapping oneself in the flag (with stars/stripes uniforms, massive unfurled flags, etc.) is an inherently political act. Playing the national anthem before a sporting event (something done nowhere else in the world except the United States and Canada) is an inherently political act. Playing “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch is an inherently political act.

You may not realize that these are political acts, either because they happen to align with your politics and/or because you’ve simply gotten used to them. To you, they may seem perfectly natural in the day-to-day course of sports. But they happen to project a very specific form of political messaging.

If you truly oppose the mixing of sports and politics, I hope you’ll join me in calling for the end of camouflage uniforms, the end of stars/stripes uniforms, and the end of pregame anthems. That would go a long way toward removing politics from sports.

If you won’t join me in calling for these changes, then you’re not actually opposed to mixing sports and politics at all. You just don’t want sports to be mixed with politics that you disagree with. (There’s a word for this. The word is “hypocrisy.”)