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The Rambler

Opinion: It is Time to Flush Politics Out of Sports

Players+of+the+Washington+Redskins+protest+by+kneeling+during+the+national+anthem.
Players of the Washington Redskins protest by kneeling during the national anthem.

Players of the Washington Redskins protest by kneeling during the national anthem.

Keith Allison

Keith Allison

Players of the Washington Redskins protest by kneeling during the national anthem.

Nick Stavas, Managing Editor

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A story has developed over the last couple of weeks and has quickly become a major controversy on many different levels. Two weeks ago, President Donald Trump tweeted backlash at the professional football players who were kneeling for the National Anthem. The only thing these tweets did was make more players take a knee and continue to divide the opinions of many people.

I won’t touch on my opinion of whether these protests are right or wrong, or whether President Trump was correct in tweeting about the issue. I am simply making a plea to the NFL, its owners, its players, and all major sports media outlets that have covered this issue: Keep politics out of sports.

Sports is something that has been sacred to Americans throughout time; a break from reality and a part of the American Dream. Sports has always been a refuge that people of different race, ethnicity, political party, social status or even religious beliefs can rally around in unity. A sports team brings people together that otherwise would be torn apart and separated by all of the ugly conflicts in this world. It gives everyone commonground.

The athletes, coaches and owners claim that sports has remained unified during a time in which our country is divided. However it seems to me that the only thing this recent development has done is rip the true fabric of the sports industry: the fans. Those athletes, coaches and owners are nothing without their fans. The fans are the lifeline of American professional football, and in my years of being an avid football fan, I have never seen a bigger division between fan bases.

All these components of social conflict used to be irrelevant on a Sunday when all fans of a team got together to watch the game. Those differences were thrown aside, and everyone smiled and greeted each other with open arms to root on their beloved teams.

Now, unfortunately, politics has seeped its way into sports like it does everything else. This “peaceful” protest has done nothing but build a wall between those who stand for it and those who stand against it. Athletes can lock arms and boast their unity as much as they want, but in the end all they are doing is dividing their fanbases.

Of course, the media continues to blow this issue up. Actual sports coverage has been second to anthem protest stories in the last few weeks. That alone, in my opinion, is an outrage. Even if they don’t air the anthem prior to kickoffs, networks make sure the announcers note who happened to take a knee during the anthem, as if people haven’t already heard enough about it. The only way to put an end to this ongoing dispute is to leave it alone.

Stop covering human interest stories and simply cover sports; the action inside the boundaries of play. I don’t believe there is a true solution to stopping these protests, unless the NFL owners follow the lead of the NBA and nix any further complications by requiring their players to stand for the anthem. Unless they do that, the only solution is to stop giving the protests attention and simply salvage the sacrality of American sports by leaving politics at the door.

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