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sports and politics

Sports and Politics: A Long, Intertwined History

Politics and sports have always been a thing. You just choose to ignore history. But, it’s time for you to face the facts and quite crying about politics being in MMA.

I’m pretty apolitical. I don’t care for politics. I don’t like politics. But to deny the history that is sports and politics is ignorant to the details from history. The platform that sports has provided athletes, both right and wrong, has been used for centuries. Today, we will look at some examples of politics and sports so you can quit whining about it.

Jackie Robinson and Major League Baseball

This is the best example of politics and sports. Jackie Robinson is the first African American to play in the MLB in 60 years after the league was segregated. He was a second basemen that hailed from the Kansas City Monarchs and was signed to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Robinson shattered people’s perception of the all-white MLB. While Robinson was a great baseball player in his own right, Robinson’s legacy was overshadowed by his activism. He frequently gave speeches on the topic of race and was criticized for being too frank and angry about the subject, but rightfully so. The Civil Rights movement was only seven years off and it was Robinson who was one of the people to spearhead the campaign. His platform gained by being the first African American to play major league baseball in the, at the time, modern era, to get his point across and do some amazing things outside of baseball.

Politics and Muhammad Ali, The Greatest

An example you might be able to relate to even better as an MMA fan is Muhammad Ali. Ali was famously barred from boxing from 1967-1970. As a gold medalist in the Olympics, Ali decided to not go to the draft as an American citizen to fight in Vietnam, where he felt like he had better battles to fight at home, Civil Rights included. A devout Muslim, Ali fought for what he thought was right. As a young man, he met Malcom X who was his mentor. Ali’s famous quotes both riled up the racist white America and energized those wanting civil rights for all citizens. “I am America,” Ali once said. “I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.”

The Olympic Games

Perhaps the biggest stage for politics and sports are the Olympics. Countries from all over the world compete to represent their countries, their politics, their beliefs. While the IOC recently banned any type of activism for the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. But this is foolish on their part. In 1968, sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised black fisted gloves on the podium for Civil Rights and Peter Norman stood by with an Olympic Project for Human Rights button. Even on the wrong side of history, Nazi Germany hosted the summer and winter Olympics, another political stunt.

While there are more recent examples of political points and sports, like Colin Kapernick and the selection of the 2008 Olympic Games to be in Beijing to improve human rights there, and even the 2020 NBA Bubble, the point here is to show you that this is nothing new. While there are major points like mentioned above, there are stories like that of Thabo Sefolosha throughout history that are often forgot but play an equal role of importance in their causes. The platform given to athletes by sports have been used for political purposes time and time again.

If you’re interested in other human rights issues, I recommend reading my research on Paralympian, Reza Tabrizi, and wrestler, Navid Afkari. Tabrizi is being tried for death for questioning government decisions with the pandemic and Afkari was executed for attending a protest. Thanks for reading.

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