No politics policy?
I live and die with OSU sports. I attended the final game of the OSU/Auburn series. I was sitting near a couple from Auburn and offered, "Welcome to Oregon" and we chatted about the rain. I would bet an awful lot of my money that we don't share the same political viewpoint. Who cares? They were visitors to my beloved home state and I wanted them to feel welcomed. We were at a GAME. Auburn's very big, very talented 1st baseman injured his leg rounding 2nd base at one point. I thought, oh no, here come the cat calls directed at a very big kid. Silence and then a very genuine round of applause as he resumed his place on 3rd base. You could see that over the 3 games, the 2 teams had developed great respect for one another. It was incredibly refreshing to see. The game was an escape. I left very disappointed with the outcome. I didn't leave angry.
Hopefully The Athletics' new policy is a sign of the tide turning. Americans are divided on so many issues, but sports have long been the rare exception where a whole region will come together and unite and route for the same outcome without regard for race, sexuality, religion, political ideology, etc. Sporting events are a rare opportunity for us to disconnect for a few hours from the strain and worry of the outside world. The last five minutes of a close Blazer game no one cares about what is happening on Twitter, or checking the CNN or FoxNews headlines; instead 20,000 people from all walks of life are united and pulling for one outcome. When Lillard hits that game winning three sending the crowd into pandemonium and you start high-fiving everyone you don't care if they have blue hair or if they're shirt says "don't tread on me." In a world where it seems like everything is twisted and sensationalized in order to get us angry and divided, sports is an escape. An escape worth fighting for.
Everybody's got a right to an opinion. I think the key word is civility. When that goes away, I do too.
The world needs sport not only as an escape but as a tool to make our society better. I love this Finals series because it’s drama free. It’s not the Nets and it’s not the Lakers and all the other storylines that come into that. Just 48 minutes of team basketball.
I think Matthew McConaughey said it best when he said we’re told we’re way more divided than we really are. We aren’t natural enemies of one another we’re just told we are in some areas. How else can you explain thousands of people with differing views on politics ready to literally fight for one another and treat others on that same couple of hour journey with respect. But the game ends and then what happens? Man. Sports are powerful.
Agree. Pay the teachers. Treat ANYONE associated with youth sports better and for heaven’s sake encourage the kids to be kids in real-life.
I agree with you about avoiding politics. There is enough division is this world. I wish ESPN and the pro sports world would learn this lesson--and fast. But there I go wishing for some common sense. Thanks for bringing this up.
I think you nailed it, and you brought me some comfort as I look forward to future columns. Thank you.
John - I agree. People come to sports for an escape. The trouble with saying "no politics" is the world of Republicans and Democrats has been eclipsed by those who hate and those who care. It's unfortunate but those forces are going to spill into sports from time to time. Keep up the good work. I appreciated your interview yesterday with Tyson Alger. I would have been happy listening for another hour or more.
Boy, this is an important topic. I know of people who've stopped watching and enjoying sports due to the politicalization by sports organizations and television networks. The worst part is not their disappointment (although that is bad), but the loss of this once unifying pastime (name your sport) which brought people of all stripes together for a common purpose. Gathering, whether in a sports venue or at a sports bar or brew pub to watch and enjoy competition was such a human thing to do. Today, it's great if you're a member of one political tribe in the US and it is demeaning for many who belong to a different political tribe. In my view, whatever educational value of the "statement" might be espoused by its producers is nullified by the shallow symbolism that it provides. Ultimately, the politicization of sports is patronizing for everyone as it assumes a very low level of understanding and education of viewers and fans. It's a cowardly way for these organizations to virtue signal in order to gain woke point$ in the marketplace.
Sports organizations would better serve the public by educating their members (athletes, owners, and staff members) about issues of the day that are important, including modeling and rewarding the highest morals, ethics, and sportsmanship. THAT would make a real difference among fans and in society. Broadcasters might think about utilizing their audience capture to highlight news shows and offerings that educate viewers with wide-ranging intellectual explorations that are open minded, historical, and not simply geared toward one end of the political spectrum (whether left or right).
Lets commit to having sports be the relief and the release that the masses need in order to help reduce the stresses of the day and of the system, so that we can be better members of our families, communities, and work places, and create a better world one day at a time.
Sports, music, Netflix and wine for me. And the birds I support with my birdfeeder. And walking around our city.
Thank you! Love your writing.. it always opens up great conversations with my now college aged kids
Everyone needs an outlet from the seemingly endless onslaught of messaging related to politics, social problems, economics, environment, religion, etc.) Entertainment, such as sports, music, movies, TV, and recreational activities, served many people for many years as those outlets. Unfortunately, politics became infused into everything. It's time to liberate our entertainment outlets from such messaging, whether it be about race, gender, environment, etc.
I don't buy tickets or TV subscriptions to be force-fed political and social messaging by leagues, teams, or sponsors, regardless of what it is or what the political bent (liberal or conservative) is. To that end, I stopped watching the NFL and NBA several years ago, and I stopped renewing my Blazers season tickets. I miss watching and going to games, but the incessant messaging about issues unrelated to the teams' primary purpose (to compete to the fullest of their ability and to entertain their fans) took away much of the enjoyment and experience.
In the few video clips I saw of this year's NBA Finals on the news, it was refreshing to see that the political and social messaging that appeared on the courts and jerseys during the 2020 and 2021 seasons wasn't there. I wish the NFL would stop with the messaging on their fields and helmets.
Let's hope that this is a start of a trend to banish political, social, religious, and other divisive issues from sports and other entertainment forms. I agree with other contributors here that sports and entertainment help serve to bring everyone together without regard to their views on divisive subjects. Politics simply do not need to be the centerpiece of every event, activity, outlet, or place of business. The Olympics, for example, have strayed far from their original mission of bringing countries together to compete in a showcase of sports. Rather, they are being torn apart by divisive politics and international conflicts that should be set aside for such an event.
I don't have a problem with athletes, musicians, actors, etc. having positions on political issues. But, they should do their politicking on their personal time and not as a representative of their team.
Likewise, I don't discuss politics or other divisive subjects while attending a sporting event, concert, or movie.
I was a multi-year subscriber to The Athletic. Loved it. Loved the Oregon angle they were able to provide with Tyson Alger. They covered my other favorite sports teams great as well. Then Tyson left to pursue an avenue similar to John's. Then The New York Times purchased the platform. Done. The NYT is everything wrong with journalism. Their politics were too "in your face" and too blatantly liberal. I didn't want CNN or MSNBC giving me my sports news. I didn't want to support that with my hard earned dollar so I canceled my subscription. There are a number of great articles that come across my Twitter feed or through my email that I no longer have access to that I really want to read which stinks. But, sports media is not the place to push your political agenda. I applaud John for that view and hope The Athletic sticks to its guns, but as long as The New York Times owns them I'll support other sports platforms, possibly even the BFT.
A wonderful potpourri column today.😊
I like the escape/decompress mind set.
Best article of the year John....the sports I watch and articles I read are exactly as you say, my release from the world so to speak! Hope you continue with striving to leave politics out of your articles and PodCasts. Usually when sports shows, podcasts, etc starts to turn political, that's when I turn them off and unsubscribe, its the reason I don't watch the talking heads on TV anymore either.....here's to the last bastion of non political arenas!?!? PUN intended! Cheers John for your view on this!
God Bless you John. Sports has been my "escape" for my entire life. Whether it is attending an event or reading about sports. I don't want anyone's political viewpoint whether it be conservative or liberal. I applaud The Athletic, which I subscribe to and hope other sites follow suit. Sports needs to unite us, not divide us even further. By the way, I'm from Florida but have always loved Pac 8, 10, and 12 sports. College football is better when the Pac 12 is good. I'm glad I discovered you. Thank you for your great work.