Unfortunately, I think the answer is nowhere. Not because athletes hate us and want to see the world burn, but because all humans will seek to use the tools available to them to institute the change that they want to see in the world.
It sure would be nice if sports were the neutral arena that could join us together
By Matthew Fraser, Editor in Chief
Sometimes I look at the gaps and issues that exist in society and I wonder what it is we can do to bridge them and draw us all together. Whether it’s war or hatred or an inarticulate loathing for the others of our society, I can’t help but wonder if and how we can reframe each other in our minds to live civilly.
I would hope that there exists some great unifier that stands separate and above the general mish-mash of squabbles that underlie our deeper divides. Naively, I had once hoped that there really existed a neutral but equally appealing spectacle for which we could all lay down our arms and agree on for just a little while.
For some people, that could have been sports. A seemingly neutral opportunity to drop their biases and preconceived notions to waste time and realize that we are all a little alike after all. This could have worked where the personal preferences of music and the political words and evocations of an artist drew attention to our differences. This could have worked where the structures of meaning and differing cultural ideals of acceptance made movies too fraught and touchy for unification. This might have been the place where propaganda didn’t have the chance to invade at all.
But like any potential medium, it can be influenced if not corrupted by human desires; though their feats may at times seem preternatural, athletes are still just humans. Humans that can be moved by injustice and convinced to speak on issues. Humans who see themselves as privileged with a platform and are called on to use it.
If I am anything, I certainly am not one of those people who think athletes should “shut up and dribble.” I care far more about politics than I do about sports and the feelings of sports fans; I would rather that the political actions of an athlete agitate the masses in a way that I, for all my political chest-beating and senseless yammering cannot. However, I am also keenly aware that generating conversation and response should not consistently backfire and further divide us. So where does that leave us when we want to bring down the temperature and ease tensions?
Unfortunately, I think the answer is nowhere. Not because athletes hate us and want to see the world burn, but because all humans will seek to use the tools available to them to institute the change that they want to see in the world. If nothing else, fame is a fantastic tool for change. And so, it might not be possible for athletes to stay quiet on injustices or not bring attention to causes they deem important, and if we value a society of free expression they shouldn’t.
Instead, we should make do with sports’ ability to distract us. It might just be that unification is out of the question but temporary reprieve and mindless consumption are the next best result.