By Gary Norris Gray, Staff Reporter
Fans are frustrated by intruding politics in their favorite sports bring to light the struggles of African Americans in the United States and Black people around the world. These fans are stating they do not want politics in their sport of choice.
The claims of politics became more strident after the Black Lives Matter Movement and the Colin Kaepernick affair in San Francisco. It and became more pronounced with President Donald J. Trump and his unrelenting attack on Kaepernick and Black athletes with the consent of conservative ownership of professional teams.
These complaints should in fact be the driving force to make sports do the right thing at the right time, and that time is now. Sports fans have come to the sad conclusion there will always be politics in sports.
The political specter of sports comes out again this week with the Phoenix Suns/Mercury owner Robert Sarver. Sports fans are calling for him to sell both teams because of his conduct. Calling his players racial and derogatory names. Thinking its o.k. and nobody would report it or mind.
That is partly political and the NBA and WNBA have to deal with it. The leagues will take action sooner or later unlike the NFL which continues to drag their collective feet.
Many sports fans do not like head coaches Gregg Popovich (Spurs) and Steve Kerr publicly discussing gun control, gay rights, civil and equal rights. Many fans say stick to sports, something that you know.
Fans get bent out of shape when these two men start speaking on the freedoms and injustice of disenfranchised Americans. Question who else can do this because the United States has turned a deaf ear towards Black athletes speaking out when they talk about these subjects.
The current example of this reaction is very clear with Golden State forward Draymond Green talking about Sarver stating “how can Black players work for Sarver while they are being called names and how can Black players represent the Suns and Mercury under this leadership.”
The media and the conservative fan base have plastered Green by stating shut-up and dribble
HMMMMM have we not heard this before?
During the first week of September, South Carolina women’s hoop head coach Dawn Staley told the administration of BYU that their home and home basketball series would be canceled after a racial incident on the BYU volleyball court.
Some Cougar fan thought it would be cute to call the only Black player on the Penn State Volleyball team the N-word. “As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff,” Staley said in a statement released by South Carolina. “The incident at BYU has led me to reevaluate our home-and-home, and I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.”
The BYU basketball staff administration did not know the gravity of the situation and just excused it as a prank that did not happen. African Americans go through this time and time again trying to prove that incidents like this really happen and that Black people are not playing the race card.
The BYU staff tried to nullify the experience by stating it did not exist. This is the typical response and BYU failed the test instead of it being a teaching moment it became a moment of denial.
THIS IS POLITICAL!
THE OLYMPICS: A POLITICAL HAVEN
During the 1936 Berlin Games, Jesse Owens stuck it to the Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler. Owens won the 100 dash 200 meters, 4 x 100 meters, and the long jump with fellow African-Americans. Was it not political when The Black athletes in Mexico City Summer Games protested with gloved Black fist raised?
Seven Americans were expelled including sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos. America hated Carlos and Smith for years and the two could not get a job in the United States for 15 years. This is how deep this emotion are in the United States.
The former Soviet Union had to deal with political protest too. Vera Caslavska from Czechoslovakia turned her head on the medal stand when the Soviet National Anthem was played. Vera returned home a hero but was chastised by the Soviet backed government.
Let us not forget the 1972 Summer Games in Munich when Palestinian terrorists took Israeli athletes from their Olympic dorm to the airport in a shootout with German police where they all died. During the 1980 Moscow games, no NATO country participated because of the military invasion of Afghanistan by Soviet troops.
The Soviet Union and the Warsaw Power countries responded with the boycott of the Los Angeles Summer Games four years later. Remember the USA hockey team defeated the strong Soviet hockey team in the semifinals of Lake Placid, New York. That Saturday morning on the west coast afternoon on the east coast American flags flew all over the country.
THAT WAS POLITICAL!
In the 1988 Games in Seoul, and 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea let government officials from North Korea into their country. The two Korea’s were still legally at war. THAT WAS POLITICAL! Could this end the conflict between the two countries? Maybe not, but at least they are talking to each other again.
The Formula One auto racing boycott of South Africa pulling the Grand Prix from that country for civil rights violations of Black South Africans. The Tour will finally return to Cape Town 50 years later with the end of apartheid.
In 2020, another boycott started in the Middle East with the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix for human rights. The week before the race the Saudi government executed 80 people. Many drivers were not comfortable being there and wanted to leave.
The Formula One racing group formed “We Race as One” in which seven-time Black champion Lewis Hamilton participated with other drivers and continues to put political pressure on the countries of the current Formula One Tour.
The LIV Golf Tour and the PGA Tour will be under investigation by the United States justice department for antitrust violations. The DOJ will be looking into potential antitrust violations against LIV and PGA. The Department will be looking into engaging activity blocking players to join the LIV Tour.
THIS IS POLITICAL!
The PGA was the only game in town until the LIV Tour showed up last year. The PGA could be in full panic mode with good players leaving the PGA Tour for the LIV Tour. The Republican Party is in love with the LIV Tour because it’s the star-child of free enterprise and free choice and competition.
THAT IS POLITICAL!
THE CHINA POLICIES
Remember Ping Pong Diplomacy with President Richard Nixon and Chairman Mao opening the door to Mainland China. When a sports event is broadcast on ABC’s Wide World of Sports on prime time you know you have made it.
Thousands of Americans picked up the game of Ping Pong, young boys and girls who never saw the game before now hit this little white ball back and forth across the table. It was also the first time since 1949 that Americans step on Chinese soil.
THAT IS POLITICAL!
Boxer Joe Louis, an African-American struck a blow for democracy by defeating former World Champion Max Schmeling, a symbol of the Nazi Party and Aryan Supremacy. Every African-American wanted Louis to defeat the German and radios across this land bleared the air waves.
This fight should have been a fight for Black liberation instead it was another event to wave the red, white and blue. In contrast, Americans hated World Champion Muhammad Ali because he would not enter the draft stating “I ain’t got no quarrel with those Vietcong… no Vietcong ever called me N….er.”
Ali went on a political college education tour informing young America what was happening in the United States. Ali finally filed a legal lawsuit to reclaim his title. Now Mr. Ali is the Greatest of All Time. The political threat disappeared when Parkinson’s disease took his body.
The hate venom came out when Kaepernick stated his case eight years ago. But if Kaepernick did not speak out the NFL would not have 12 Black starting quarterbacks in 2022. At that time there were six Black starting quarterbacks, but there were nine more on the bench.
That was just the tip of the iceberg as police brutality, jobs, housing, and racial equality were all on number seven’s plate. Without Kaepernick you would not have NFL inner cities programs for young Americans. Without Kaepernick we would not be talking about law and order and police brutality.
Black people always have to push this country to do the right thing- WHY? Kaepernick wanted justice for people of color but all the media and conservative owners could talk about were the pigs in police uniforms on his socks, trying to devalue, divert, and dilute the conversation and implications.
The New York Football Giants have started a Black quarterback only twice in its 90-year history but nobody discusses that…WHY? That is political because the conservative ownership wants a head coach and quarterback to look like them.
That means Black coaches and Black quarterbacks have to work twice as hard. Right now, there are five white quarterbacks that should not even be in the league, but because of their skin tone they play and stink up the place week after week and the team fan base accepts that because he looks like them.
They would never accept that from a Black quarterback. Two starting quarterbacks are over 40 years old now tell me how many Black quarterbacks over 40 are playing…I’ll tell you, zero.
The NFL has 32 teams and only three Black head coaches. The head coach in Miami just discovered that he was Black after he was hired by the Dolphin organization. There are 51 Black assistant coaches in the NFL this year and you are telling me they cannot lead a team while last year eight more new head coaches were hired.
With each passing year many African-Americans are not liking the NFL because of this non-committal stance on racial justice. Many Black fans will reinstate the boycott that Kaepernick started in the 2016-18 seasons.
This offseason, the NFL punished Black starting quarterback Deshaun Watson of the Cleveland Browns with an 11-game suspension but let owner Robert Kraft of New England, owner Jerry Jones of Dallas and The Las Vegas Raider organization skate on the similar charges.
Former Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger commits alleged crimes not once but twice and he gets to play that game he loves. IS THAT NOT POLITICAL? Just asking….
Brett Favre can steal money from the State of Mississippi (alleged) and that’s O.K. while Michael Vick has to grovel to get to play again when he was not even there when the crime was committed at his home. Art Schlichter was finally caught with his gambling addiction after years of losing money.
The American media felt sorry and gave him the kid glove treatment. Schlichter would return to football in the Canadian Football League and the Arena League winning the Most Valuable Player award. Gambling would bring him down again after his 2nd chance at football.
Like Favre, the political and racial nastiness directed at Vick was not present with Art Schlichter. A man that lost half of a million dollars gambling which finally led to Commissioner Pete Rozelle to suspend Schlichter. The quarterback was later diagnosed with Parkinson disease, dementia, and CTE.
The NFL finally admitted to the political issue of brain injuries to its players at the turn of the century. Too late for Art Schlichter and too late for many more African American players of the past. THAT WAS POLITICAL!
Most African American football fans are not happy that the conservative political ownership 15 owners invested in the Trump re-election campaign in 2020 the most in NFL history…. AGAIN WHY? AND YOU ARE TELLING ME THAT’S NOT POLITICAL!
It is very demoralizing to young Black fans when you are told to do the right thing by your parents and your community and you get the Owner of the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury acting a fool calling his female players B…..es and H….es and calling his male players the N…. WORD.
Yet he can own a WNBA and NBA team, come on man. This is the double standard African-Americans have dealt with for over 400 years nothing new.
Most professional sports owners’ side with the GOP. Why? To protect their money and to enforce their laws and morals no matter how bad they maybe. Why? Because it is in their best interest and yes that is political. Why? Because they can. Something has to change.
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad News Network Disabled Community Activist. Email at
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