In today’s sports landscape, societal issues cross into the athletic arena. Under those circumstances, expect a backlash from those unconvinced that sports and social issues need to meet. As a result, the mantra of “stick to sports” evolved into a pejorative, demanding writers to concentrate on the game. To shed like on whether sticking to sports is the way, FPC editors, D’Abate, Smith, Adverderada, Williams, Ray, and Infante.
Mike D’Abate (Patriots Managing Editor)
In a Utopian sports world, it would be easy to ‘stick to sports.’ However, in the age of social media and sensationalistic “journalism”, it is not a viable possibility. Social issues often pervade the sanctity of the sports world, at both the professional and amateur levels. Sports are a part of the social culture in the United States, for better or for worse. At times, it can serve the public’s best interest by bringing about dialogue on topics such as human rights, race, and socio-economic challenges. There are also times in which that platform is misused by the media to push a personal agenda or that of their employer. It should be incumbent upon a responsible journalist to use that platform responsibility and objectively. If done correctly, it can be an effective way for athletes, fans, and media alike to unite in the best common interest of everyone.
Sam Smith (Vikings Managing Editor)
The mantra of “stick to sports” is nothing more than an attempt to disarm those whose positive voice rings loudest. It is a way to dismiss someone solely because their profession is not rooted in politics. However, here is the thing: sports have long been a bridge into the political world. Jackie Robinson, Tommie Smith, Juan Carlos, all men who are forever icons of Black progress. Many vilified them in their time. When someone tells Malcolm Jenkins or LeBron James to “stick to sports”, they diminish their roles as community leaders, role models for children and educators.
Even beyond race politics, sport has a voice. Hell, Nixon used ping-pong to kick start productive dialogue with China in the 70s. Sport unites eyes to one fixed point. That is why a game day protest is valuable and why an average civilian protesting in their workplace is a false equivalency. No one but the boss will see an office protest. Millions tune into to see players. Moreover, if you are uncomfortable with what they are saying or how they are saying it, then I guess they are doing what they set out to do.
Ryan Adverderada (Cardinals Managing Editor)
LeBron James has opened a school to help the youth in his community. He made college a real possibility for hundreds of kids. I do not want him to stick to sports. Colin Kaepernick has donated over $1 million of his own money to charities and community groups across the country. Should he stick to sports or is it okay for him to continue to help the community?
Two athletes who chose to answer the calls from their communities to make a positive difference. Isn’t this what we have wanted our athletes to do, or did we want them to stick to sports? James and Kaepernick are just two of thousands of professional athletes who give back and help their communities. If J.J. Watt says he disagrees with your political view, will you tell him to stick to sports? Whether you agree with their politics or not, we should be encouraging their work within the community. Plus, expect the same of the very people who want them to stick to sports.
Dean Williams (Titans Managing Editor)
Sports, politics, vanilla ice cream, all these things are part of life. I am a writer, but that does not define me. It is only part of who I am. It is only part of my life. I believe the calls of “stick to sports” are wrong. My father taught me that if a man is doing something he truly believes is good and right then you should respect that even if you do not agree with it. I would much rather have a man or woman be who they are and say what they think. Because like it or not, we are all part of each other’s lives.
Brandon Ray (Bills Managing Editor)
The phrase “stick to sports” when there are crossovers between sports, social issues and politics is something that is said a lot to athletes when inputs are given on a topic that is hot and heavy. Professional athletes speak to the media in multiple situations that are occurring. Professional athletes are looked up to as role models. I firmly believe that athletes, much like everyone else has the right to say how they feel on a certain subject.
Jacob Infante (FPC Editor Emeritus)
Admittedly, I have mixed feelings about this issue. On one hand, I feel as though sports is our way to escape from the issues surrounding our nation and come together as one fanbase. That said, the inclusion of politics brings about a much more divisive feel to the games being played. it continually surrounds all of us with the very thing that we want to escape from. On the other hand, though, I admire athletes for using their platform to speak up about the injustices in our society and try to make the world a better place. They are the voice of the voiceless, and they bring up issues in our nation that otherwise may not have as much attention being drawn to them. Overall, I understand both sides of the spectrum.