Philadelphia Union Shred “Stick to Sports” Cliched Nonsense

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“Stick to Sports” is certainly in the same family as “go back to your country.” Both seek to condescend and dehumanize. And the kind of people who use the former expression, often use the latter, and vice versa.

It’s odd because a.) no one ever says “stick to sports” when a sports figure opines on food, drink, movies, television, music, books etc. And no one ever a news talking head to “stick to politics” when said pundit opines on sports. What the phrase (used by people as high profile as ESPN/ABC host and far right winger Sage Steele) really means is “stick to sports when you voice political beliefs I’m not comfortable with.”

The tacit assertion is “you don’t have to stick to sports when you espouse political views I agree with.”

Well, at least one currently active sports figure, Philadelphia Union manager Jim Curtin, has called out “stick to sports” for what it really is- cliche and stupid.

“A lot of people will tell me and Ale to shut up and ‘stick to sports,’ and all the stupid lines that come up, but it’s crazy in our country right now and I think it needs to change,” Curtin said last weekend, after the Union’s 5-1 win over D.C. United in Major League Soccer competition.

The victory came on the same weekend as the terrorist attacks in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. The two mass shootings were carried out with weapons of war, and last Sunday saw Philadelphia Union captain Alejandro Bedoya run to the touchline after scoring a goal, where he yelled into an on-field microphone:

“Hey Congress, do something now! End gun violence! Let’s go!”

Bedoya’s statement is one that resonates with almost every American, as polls show that support for universal background checks is near 90%. Curtin was sticking up for Bedoya, who was expressing his First Amendment rights, and hopefully those who fetishize (while clearly misinterpreting) the Second Amendment will hear it.

Bedoya, who had a spectacular game/week was voted the league’s Player of the Week, despite not even being included on the ballot. After the match, Bedoya expounded on his call for common sense gun legislation. After all, it’s literally harder to buy some forms of cold and sinus medication than it is assault rifles right now.

“I’m not going to sit idly and watch this stuff and not say something,” Bedoya told reporters after the match.

“Before I’m an athlete, before I’m a soccer player, I’m a human being first. Something’s got to be done. It’s gotten to the point where it’s, we’ve almost become numb to it. That’s a big problem.”

Bedoya absolutely nailed it there in regards to the “stick to sports” nonsense. Human beings, who exist in real life, are multifarious, complicated organisms with multiple sets of values and ideologies.

“Stick to sports” is an expression instructing a human being to be a crude, one-dimensional cartoonish stereotype. It’s “stay in your lane” on steroids.

Bedoya continued to articulate his thoughts on America’s grim reality, where everyone, except the people that can do something about it and a very tiny group of gun nuts wants strong, immediate change.

“Politicians are politicians, you know — they’re backed by lobbyists and by corporations,” The Philadelphia Union team captain continued.

“There’s things that need to be done to change the way this government is being run…Why should any civilian be able to have a magazine that has 100 rounds and can shoot whatever number of rounds in less than a minute, you know?”

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He also said that a friend had suggested he use his current platform as a high profile professional athlete to spread his beliefs on the gun violence epidemic, and he further expressed his thoughts in a message posted on his Instagram account the following day.

MLS released the following statement on Bedoya’s remarks and the two gun massacres last weekend:

“The Major League Soccer family joins everyone in grieving for the loss of lives in Texas and Ohio, and we understand that our players and staff have strong and passionate views on this issue.”

The Philadelphia Union will take on the Houston Dynamo tonight and then visit the Chicago Fire next weekend.

If you want to get involved and make your voice heard, learn more at this blog, and go to Every Town for Gun Safety.org.

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And it is coincidentally fitting that a team with an American Revolution evoking name and badge is the one acting politically progressive here.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No,  I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

You can follow Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com on Twitter here and his cat on Instagram at this link.

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