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Politics in Sports

Champion+boxer+Mohammed+Ali%2C+in+the+ring+after+a+knock+out%2C+was+one+of+the+most+politically-outspoken+athletes+in+America%27s+history.+
Champion boxer Mohammed Ali, in the ring after a knock out, was one of the most politically-outspoken athletes in America's history.

Champion boxer Mohammed Ali, in the ring after a knock out, was one of the most politically-outspoken athletes in America's history.

Champion boxer Mohammed Ali, in the ring after a knock out, was one of the most politically-outspoken athletes in America's history.

Tajas Sood, Staff writer

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From Jesse Owens winning gold in Nazi Germany’s Olympics to Muhammad Ali refusing to go fight in Vietnam to Colin Kaepernick taking a knee, sports and politics have always been connected. Athletes often time use their star power to make statements and bring attention to  causes that are important to them.  

People often seek refuge from politics in sports, but due to the polarizing nature of the 2016 election cycle, politics has increased its influence everywhere.

Recently, Mack Beggs, the transgendered male who was forced to participate in a women’s wrestling competition and won, gained national attention and started a conversation about gender identity and transgender rights.   

In football, players like Tom Brady have broadcasted their Make America Great Again hats in support of the Trump presidency while other players refused to meet Trump at the White House.

Furthermore, in the NBA,  entire teams have refused to even stay in Trump’s hotels.

Kaden Ward, a junior who plays for the Vista del Lago golf team, describes this phenomena as “a good thing” and commends athletes for “standing up for their rights.”

Athletes influence the minds of many of their fans — fans who make up the entire political spectrum — in a way no politician or activist can, placing them in the position to make a difference. Ward, who is not famous himself but has made his rounds on local news, recognizes this duty that athletes have. “The things I say sometimes motivate others. It makes them take in my ideas and sometimes it’s helpful,” said Ward.

Andrew Cokley, a Vista junior and varsity football player, echoes Ward’s sentiment. “Players should be able to make a stand for what they believe and not be completely criticized. They’re starting a conversation which is very important. What they’re trying to accomplish is getting people talking about an issue. As disrespectful as it might seem, they’re trying to advance a goal that should be talked about.”

When asked about if their feelings would change based on if they agree with what said athlete is advocating for, both Ward and Cokely came out as supportive of every athlete’s right to express their beliefs. Ward describes himself as “consistent” and Cokely agrees “as long as it doesn’t become a major distraction from the game.”

Although some people are frustrated with sports players taking a stand, wanting sports and politics to stay separate, others find athletes being involved in politics as admirable and a way of informing the American people.

However, it’s undeniable  that athletes, especially those in professional sports, are in the position to enter people’s minds and start a conversation that can make a difference in the world. Sports and politics have always been linked and always will be.

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Politics in Sports