Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ozzie Being Ozzie, Sports Being Political

Ozzie Guillen mentioning he respects Fidel Castro? Stupid.

Guillen saying something inflammatory? Not surprising.

The number of people claiming politics and sports don't mix? See above.

Sports and politics mix all the time. The only time most people notice it is when sports mix with politics they don't agree with.

There are, of course, the obvious examples: Jackie Robinson "breaking" the color barrier in Major League baseball, Tommie Smith and John Carlos offering the black power salute at the 1968 Olympics, the US hockey team defeating the Soviet team at Lake Placid as a symbol of Cold War dominance, and Ozzie Guillen admiring Fidel Castro in Miami..., etc., etc.

But every professional sporting event in the USA begins with the national anthem, placing it under the aegis of nationalist politics. Issues of race, immigration, social class, and corporate authority are ever-present features of professional sports the world over. Sports, like other high profile spectacles, reflect the political tensions of their cultures. Not surprising.


Robert J. Hudson said...

Yeah, there is something about your buddy Silvio Berlusconi acting as owner and president of top-of-the table AC Milan (currently trailing Juve by 1 point) that does not sit well with me. Somehow, even Mussolini's beloved SS Lazio never managed to win the Serie A in the 30s...

Qatari, sheik and Russian billionaires buying up European football clubs - while certainly not a question of race for me, but rather of tradition, heritage and fiscal equality - is also less than palatable.

Ask Kim Jong Il and Hugo Chavez if sports are useful propaganda machines...

So, yeah, I agree with you: you cannot divorce sports from politics. Sadly, however, politics can sully the virtue of sport and the global market can strip away the regional and cultural specificity that make sports great.

Alas, no one sponsors Basque pelota...

Corry Cropper said...

I wonder about the "virtue of sport" you mention. I think that's a construct put on sports by clever promoters and sponsors. So they deserve some of the blame when it is "sullied." I'm not sure sports are inherently virtuous.