Last week, as the Milwaukee Bucks were traveling back to Wisconsin after another devastating loss to the Toronto Raptors, President Donald Trump began to implement his temporary ban of immigration from Muslim majority countries Iraq, Libya, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Yemen and Bucks forward, Thon Maker’s, home country of Sudan.
Basically no one outside of the Bucks organization knew if he had been allowed back over the U.S.-Canada border after their game in Toronto. Head coach Jason Kidd, though, quelled any fears when he announced that Maker would be starting in the next game at center.
This incident – or almost-incident – started off a firestorm from Bucks Senior VP Alexander Lasry, son of Bucks owner Marc Lasry.
Luol Deng, a Lakers forward also born in Sudan, had a similar message.
This is our new America. Sports, the once haven from our crazy world, is now being dragged into politics. It is not the first time sports and politics have intertwined. One only needs to go back a year to see basketball players and football players wearing “I can’t breathe” shirts, taking a political stand in racial issues. Go back another couple years and you see Los Angeles Clipper players protesting their own team and team owner for racist remarks he made.
But this is new. Players are taking stands. LeBron James was stumping for Hillary Clinton back in November, Tom Brady is being asked questions about Donald Trump in the lead up to the Super Bowl and ESPN anchors are going ballistic on Instagram about protests.
But maybe this is for the better.
Sports used to be our refuge. People pack into seats, because they are fans of the team playing, but also to forget about their stressful lives for awhile. To provide a distraction from this crazy world we’re in.
But sports have been powerful drivers of change in the past – they’ve just been more isolated. Think South African Rugby. Think Tommie Smith and John Carlos.
Politics is, even more so in today’s world, seeping into sports as well as every aspect of our lives.
Politics and sports used to be a very divided line. The election of Trump and his antics since have awakened the sports world though and completely obliterated that line. With that line now gone, Trump has awakened a possible a new, monster political force in sports. In the coming months and years, it won’t be Senior VP’s making impassioned, beautiful tweets – it will be the role models themselves, the stars with millions of fans taking a stand.
For better or for worse, this is the new sports world.