In the wake of Charlottesville, protests against the president and his administration will only get louder and the sporting world is no exception
Of all the reasons for resigning from Donald Trumps American Manufacturing Council in the wake of the presidents reaction to the Nazi rally in Charlottesville, the one offered on Tuesdayby Under Armour chief executive Kevin Plank felt the most wilfully naive. According to the boss of the sportswear firm, he was stepping down because Under Armour engages in invention and sports , not politics.
Oh dear. Im not quite sure what Plank imagined he was get Under Armour into when he took his seat on Trumps American Manufacturing Council, but I cant believe he really is so dim that he thought it was just an American manufacturing council. Furthermore, I cant believe he doesnt realise that big-time athletic and politics are indivisible. Never mind most of the last century has he been watching the last few years on tape delay?
Sometimes the style sport and politics intertwine is glaringly obvious sporting boycotts, state-sponsored doping, countries buying World Cups or Olympic Game to launder their reputations or to act as a showpiece for the next stage in their plan for global domination.
Sometimes its a question of the route a athletics rulers choose to run it. Football clubs being penalty more for kit violations than racist chanting by fans, banning women from playing all these things are political. Sometimes its more insidious NFL fans are so used to the excessive militarisation of games that for many it doesnt seem bizarre or jarring , no matter how many military salutes, Chinook flypasts, or flashy Pentagon-funded army recruitment drives are deemed a necessary backdrop to a football game. Sometimes its who has decided to use sport for their own objectives. In February, white supremacist/ punched Nazi Richard Spencer marked the Patriots Super Bowl victory by tweeting approvingly( if inaccurately) that the Patriots were the NFLs whitest team.
Other times a political fight is personified by an individual or individuals, and these are usually the only periods it gets stamped down on. Corporate or nationalist politics in athletic pas largely with impunity; individual politics incurs huge personal risk. Olympics organisers would have far instead lambasted canadian athletes for making a gay rights protest on the rostrum at the Sochi Games than they would have had a gentle word with Vladimir Putin for using the entire event as a curtain-raiser for invading the Crimea. Theres politics and politics. You pick your battles.
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