Cory Van Gilst-Staff Writer
Everything is awful. That is my typical reaction to any political news that extends its reach into the sports world. Actually, maybe the word ‘news’ isn’t quite appropriate; perhaps political propaganda would be more suitable. I’m writing this in response to the most recent NFL protests that have marred the sports world in division and complete awfulness. Unfortunately, my qualms with politics in sports are much larger than the events of last weekend.
Allow me to be a little melodramatic about the issue: Alas, the last of America’s great strongholds against the political scene has fallen. Gone are the days where fans could simply be fans. Gone are the days where a father explains to his son that former Arizona Cardinals’ safety Pat Tillman is a hero because he gave up football to fight and die for his country on foreign soil. Gone are the days where talent was all that mattered in the eyes of fans. Instead, we are being forced to welcome the days where fans have to choose to support players based on their political stance, not talent. Days where Bruce Jenner is a hero because he thinks he is a woman. Days where race, gender and sexual orientation make a player special, not his or her ability to perform at the highest level.
Personally, I could care less about Colin Kaepernick. Is that because I am a racist who doesn’t care about discrimination? No. I don’t care about him because he is a horrendous excuse for a quarterback. There are few things I find more sickening than ESPN bringing to light and celebrating differences between people for the sake of equality when many of us did not even notice them in the first place. I thought equality meant that no one noticed racial, gender or any other ‘social’ difference. But what do I know?
I do know that all of the political propaganda circulating through the sports world will lead to the demise of a lot of programs if it gets out of hand. The NFL ratings plummeted last week. ESPN has been forced to downsize multiple times since taking political stands on their network. One could also look at the sorry state of the University of Missouri for what could happen if this fire storm continues. Since advocating for ‘equality’ and forcing the ‘racist’ president of the college to resign, enrollment has dropped by 35%. The football program that started the uproar lost millions in funding from private donors over the course of several months and now is a bottom feeder in the SEC.
To be clear, I do care about many of the issues that are taking place in this country right now. I think there are things that can be changed for the better. I just do not want to deal with it in sports. Like many Americans, I use sports as an escape from those things—and ironically as a point of unity. When the Chicago Cubs finally won the World Series last year, I didn’t ask for other fans opinions on the election or race inequality before I went crazy with them. None of those things mattered for that moment – the only thing that mattered was the fact that they were fellow Cubs fans and we were champions! I only wish the media and heads of the sports world understood that.