(Editor’s note: re-posting from November 18th, 2016)
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to acknowledge the passing of the phrase “stick to sports.”
It has now passed on into the great abyss.
Of course, to be honest with ourselves, we must first acknowledge
a.) that “stick to sports” only existed as a phrase conveniently leaving off the second, more important, self-defining portion of the expressed sentiment.
b.) that it was impossible for stick to sports to ever really exist in the first place.
By Tweeting this political statement, Steele is no longer "sticking to sports." Therefore she must stop her instructing others to do so https://t.co/oCdmTyeabT
— Paul M. Banks (@PaulMBanks) November 14, 2016
Remember, when anyone tells you "stick to sports." They're actually saying "stick to sports because you voiced an opinion I disagree with"
— Paul M. Banks (@PaulMBanks) November 14, 2016
Well, guess what, sports fans? Athletes and other sports figures are just like you (except usually larger and better looking and faster). They also have emotional and even sometimes logical responses to politics, particularly in one of the most important elections in American if not world history. Know what else? That’s good.
See, because as sports are always political — whoa whoa whoa, yes, they are, get those fingers out of your ears and listen, ya silly goose — the people actually involved in sports by consequence then have political opinions. And they shouldn’t be discouraged from expressing them.
Getting back to point A, no one who disagrees with your political point of view will ever tell you to stick to sports.
SportsCenter anchor Sage Steele has embodied that phrase on at least three different and prominent occasions, and all those instances pertained to individuals with political views contrary to her own.
Steele herself then ignored the old adage stick to sports as she responded to Mike Evans, who, like Colin Kaepernick ahead of him, made a very strong sociopolitical gesture. Between Kaepernick, those who followed his lead and now Evans, let’s just say that the old offensive, condescending cliche “shut up and play” is now long dead.
Shut up and play is the equally evil twin of stick to sports, and also the sporting world’s equivalent of the entertainment industry’s “shut up and sing.”
The Dixie Chicks fought, and won I mistakenly believed, this battle a decade ago, but yet here we are once again explaining to people that entertainers are actual deep human beings and not two-dimensional stick figures.
We’ve covered the NFL already.
In MLB, Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta Tweeted his hopes that Hollywood’s elites would actually make good on their promise to leave the country now that Donald Trump has been elected President. Arrieta even jokingly offered to help them pack.
In the NBA, Jabari Parker expressed his fears for the safety of many specific demographics now that we have hate groups feeling empowered. Joel Embiid took a more humorous approach, but expressed similar disdain with the direction of the country.
Gregg Popovich called out the voters who showcased their hypocrisy regarding concerns of character via their inexplicable actions at the ballot box.
Steve Kerr expressed disgust at how the once exalted office of the presidency, and the electoral process in genera,l stumbled into the gutter, while Stan Van Gundy had perhaps the best reaction of anybody, and he was the first prominent sports figure to speak out post-election.
Vaya con dios to all of them, and I’m sorry about omitting those who I have left out.
Right now is the time to eliminate the safe spaces, and eradicate the trigger warnings.
We all need to get outside our own echo chambers and philosophical bubbles to consider the opposite points of view. On both sides, liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican, we need to at least hear what the other side has to say. Wherever and whenever that happens, it’s a good thing.
I don’t really believe that sports is truly the best arena for this, but if the market exchange of ideas happens to be in this place, so be it.
It needs to happen somewhere, and soon.
Us progressives, and the conservatives on the other side, we do need to all come together, because we have a common enemy that we urgently must defeat.
The time for sleeping on the Alt-Right, white nationalists, the Breitbart crowd who think that FOX News Channel is far too liberal is over. We can’t think of them as just a fringe minority now. They are emboldened and empowered by the elevation of Steve Bannon.
The people who took Pepe the Frog and made him a Neo-Nazi, who brought the Ku Klux Klan out of the shadows and back into relevance, who put the birther movement on the map, they currently have a genuine presence in the American political arena.
This despite the fact that their only political agendas are hate, spreading fake news, bigotry, lies, racism, sexism, xenophobia, misogyny and intolerance. The election of Trump brought white supremacists up from the margins and until the highest corridors of the Oval Office. They’re now in the conversation despite how repugnant their discourse is.
We must come together now, put aside our differences and stop this repulsive movement before it gets even stronger and further destroys our country.
Stick to sports if you want, there’s nothing wrong with that at all, but don’t do it because someone told you to.
The stakes have been raised now in 2016, and there’s a legitimate serious problem that we all must deal with. To facilitate that process we should all encourage sociopolitical discourse in any way, shape, or form that’s possible.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, partnered with FOX Sports Engage Network. and News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, Bold and the Chicago Tribune’s RedEye publication, appears regularly as a guest on CGTN America, WGN CLTV News and KOZN.
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