Colin Kaepernick refused to stand up for the national anthem. Critics are saying Kaepernick shouldn’t be bringing politics into sports. Sports should be sacred and neutral ground for everyone’s enjoyment. But there is a long history of athletes using sports as a platform for political protest.
Should athletes take public political stances?
Kaepernick said in a statement: "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color … To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."
There's a long history of athletes using sports as a platform to make a political statement. Tommie Smith and John Carlos made a huge political statement at the Olympics and suffered a huge backlash for doing so. History remembers them as heroes.
Muhammad Ali refused to fight in the Vietnam War and suffered greatly for it. He famously said, “My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America ... And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn’t put no dogs on me, they didn’t rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father. … Shoot them for what? How can I shoot them poor people? Just take me to jail.”
People think sports and politics shouldn't mix. Sports represent something that is purer than politics. It should be above the fray.
Sports are something that everyone can enjoy. It's a neutral ground and shouldn't be politicized.
Outcry against politics in sports has historically been used used to shut down important conversations. Sports and politics are tightly connected.
Sports have never been neutral ground. Like everything else sports are subjected to politics.