When people watch sports, they are seeking a fantasy, an escape, a break from life’s woes and worries. To have their hometown or favorite a-list athletes expound on Republicans, Democrats, Independents, or Tree Huggers isn’t as becoming as watching their faves ply their sporting trade to their utmost.
Van, for those who sensibly avoid TV America’s political shows with their non-titillating talking heads, and who properly don’t have a clue as to who he is - is a hardcore lefty. He’s a regular on CNN, the fake or factual news station – you decide...and he went off the channel of rational thought and went straight to backlash, when he blamed The Donald’s big victory, Trump’s presidential win, on something he called “Whitelash.”
Yet almost unbelievably, in his recommendation that the revered sports genre mix more with the rancid world of politics, he comes across as a balanced guy. He’s NOT hoping athletes spew a Democratic Party screed to the exclusion of all other dogmas: he’s wishing sports stars, if they lean to the middle or the moderate-to-hard right, share their beliefs and desires too. He, however, then teeters off balance declaring that athletes should risk their paycheck for political punditry.
So the fan of sports will be besieged by political stances from A to Z. Gee. Won’t that be the be all and end all?
Thing is, this having celebrated folks and figures in a particular industry moonlight as political pundits has bored and bothered the daylights out of the average Joe and Jane. Hollywood is reviled - and lampooned - and ridiculed (except for when Jon Voight and Angelina Jolie appear to be on the dark side of the moon vis-a-vis the other, when it comes to American politics) because so many of its inhabitants spew off on politics instead of sticking to the script. Just because someone can sing, dance, act, or read from a teleprompter shouldn’t give them a platform to raise political issues. They should be like the everyday normal person who, when trying to convince family or friends of their stances on political subjects, is at least behaving acceptably. Friends and family are fair game for persuasion because they know the person explaining their views, they know the strengths and weaknesses, and they aren’t blinded by a biased fawning mass-media publicity campaign.
The well-known should go no further than that of John Q public. They shouldn’t rely on mainstream media exposure. Access to the latter, for any famous person, should not be used to put out fatuous or farsighted political viewpoints...
Hollywood has been in the political recipe for some time now, and Mr. Jones wants sports superstars to add to this political pot stew? Eew. Van opined on the Rich Eisen show that stars of sport should use their platforms of popularity to propound in matters of politics. But Van has gotta know that major sports in America are already waist deep in problems with, for example, MLB featuring games far too long, the NHL with only the Nashville Predators and the Toronto Maple Leafs blowing people’s minds a bit, with the aforementioned NFL and Kaepernick mired in grievance, with the NBA coming off from a boring post-season playoff run - and now he wants to further sink these sports with politics?
Mr. Jones pointedly (and sadly) believes that speaking out on political matters would “make the world better.” He made mention of Muhammad Ali. But Ali was a special case. He was at the top of boxing, with a 29-0 record when he decided to risk his career because he didn’t want to fight the Viet Cong. Ali was articulate and admirable, and wise - and a wonder - in the ring. Contrast Ali with Kaepernick. Colin, though he threw for 300 + yards in Super Bowl XLVII, in a losing role, is, no Ali.
And no one in the present, or on the horizon, in Van's home of the United States, can be Jesse Owens either. Owens was, despite facing a systemic national racial color barrier at home, great in the high jump, broad jump, 100 yard, and 220. Then he went abroad and beat the pants off the best that Hitler’s Nazi Germany Aryan Race competitors had to offer. He won gold in the (meter) 100, 200, 4 x 100 and in the long jump. No sports star in the USA has such a perfect storm of all odds being against him or her to prove political points of race, ethnicity, religion, or gender.
Hey, Van, look at the new maelstrom of gender politics affecting sport. Look at sports, women’s sports, where women used to compete against women, before men declared they were women and mopped up against real women. We now have the ridiculous rigmarole of women competing against men in events for women. The results for transgendered man-to-woman individuals, where the man hasn’t undergone a sex change surgery or a hormonal transplant (step off that podium, Andraya Yearwood) - - - has been catastrophic for the gals, and threatens to make a mockery of the idea that sports should be fair at the outset recognizing and accounting for differences between men and women when it comes to testosterone, stamina, muscle mass, and power.
Van converses well and is a popular go-to guy for CNN, and perhaps he means well with his postulation on sports stars engaging followers to their political positions – but you and I, please, let's not go down his road and pave the way through embracing athletes who articulate via mass media, sensible or stupid political viewpoints. Let's instead embrace athletes for being what they've been for the most part: athletes.