Commentary: Sports and politics: Two opposites

After the controversial Executive Order 13769 entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” passed on Jan. 27, American and international athletes who play in some of the American professional sports leagues condemned it.

Donald Trump’s rise during last year’s presidential election has resulted in many heated debates over race and social issues being brought into national attention, causing many athletes to become politically active in a way not seen in decades, CNN reported.

All Americans have the freedom of speech, but when sports and politics are intertwined with each other, it creates a massive mess, generating more turmoil.

“Sports is really no longer an escape from the real world that it used to be. Sports is a mirror of our society. I think because Trump is so controversial and because the things he’s saying and doing run counter to what many people believe … athletes are finding their voice in a way that is reminiscent of the 1960s,” CNN Sports Analyst Christine Brennan said in the same article.

Although Trump has only been in office for one month and nine days, sports can potentially play a big role in the rest of his presidential term. Brennan also mentions that sports are an escape from the real world which allows us to be in the moment. As president of the United States, Trump’s controversial antics and image have deeply impacted sports in our country before, during, and after being elected, with athletes speaking out about political and social issues more than ever.

Prior to the 2016 presidential election, the United States had already commenced plans to bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and the 2026 FIFA World Cup. With what Trump’s travel ban has generated, concerns have arisen about how the executive order could cost the United States’s chances of hosting both events.

Los Angeles, along with Paris, are the finalists to host the Summer Games. The winning bid will be announced on Sept. 13. If Los Angeles wins the bid, it will be the first Summer Olympics held in the United States since the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Although the winning bid for 2026 FIFA World Cup won’t be announced for a few more years, many media outlets have already predicted the United States as the favorite; it will be the first World Cup in America since 1994.

As a huge sports fan, I would love to have both the Olympics and World Cup hosted in our country because the atmosphere and hype that two of the world’s biggest sporting events brings is huge. It would be a cool experience to witness and take part in. No matter how much athletes protest Trump’s controversial policies and/or antics, it is the President himself who needs to clean up his image a bit.

While he has recently publicly supported the Olympic bid, there are a few things he has to do to keep our chance of hosting both events alive, which include not going on his Twitter rampages, mock people with disabilities, properly handle the U.S. relations with Mexico and Russia, and have his cabinet in order.

The Olympics and World Cup bring many countries together for friendly competition, unite everyone, and allow us to forget about all of the political troubles for a period of time. Recently, FIFA expanded the number of teams competing from 32 to 48, starting with next year’s World Cup, which will help promote the game of soccer across the world. Football grounds are important venues for “promoting respect, equality and friendship,” according to FIFA’s website. Trump’s travel ban, which restricts admission of citizens from seven Muslim countries, will have tremendous effect on the World Cup bid voters, as all 211 FIFA nations members will have a say in who hosts the World Cup, BBC reports.

Although the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl in an overtime thriller over the Atlanta Falcons on Feb. 5, members of the Patriots organization remain divided over whether or not to boycott the traditional White House ceremony.

Notable Trump supporters on the newly crowned Super Bowl champions include four-time Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady, Head Coach Bill Belichick, and owner Robert Kraft. In a press conference after the Super Bowl, Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett announced his intentions to skip the visit due to his opposition against President Trump, which led to several other of his teammates to announce they too would skip the ceremony as well.

The Patriots White House dilemma is not the only example of athletes’ resistance or support of President Trump. A few days after Trump’s election victory, three NBA teams (Milwaukee Bucks, Dallas Mavericks, and Memphis Grizzlies), will no longer stay at Trump-branded hotels in New York City and Chicago, ESPN reported.

Before, during, and after President Trump officially won, many prominent figures in the sports world voiced their objections of Trump, bringing many social issues to full attention in the process. Politics shouldn’t cause tension and division in any sport organization. While I admire that athletes like Colin Kaepernick and Megan Rapinoe, who use their status to promote social issues, the political debates and attention they’re getting from their protests ultimately distracts them from the sport.

It is simple: politics and sports don’t go well together and should be separated.

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