It seems to be a beloved phrase of many sports commentators: politics has no place in sports. The phrase is pulled out repeatedly when athletes take stands on relevant issues, like when Colin Kaepernick knelt for the U.S. national anthem during the NFL’s lastest season. Politics and sports are, however, irreversibly linked. In fact, to say that sports are apolitical is to sell sports short. They have much more at play than simply kicking a ball, throwing a disc, or running around a track. Sports has always been, and always will be, deeply linked with political, social, and cultural climates.
Sports can be a way to perform politics or diplomacy, as was seen with the 1972 Summit Series played between Canada and the Soviet Union, or the 1984 L.A. Olympics boycott. In both cases, sport created a platform for nations to make peaceful political statements. Sports can be vehicle for social issues. Last year, the US Women’s National Soccer Team went on strike to demand pay equality. Their strike was widely publicized and added to the national discussion over this important issue. In Brazil in the 1950s, the inclusion of Black men on the national soccer team gradually led to greater understanding between the country’s ethnic communities, and a sense of shared patriotism.
Sports, then, is far from the apolitical zone that many claim. Its position is much more complex, and warrants deeper analysis than it is regularly afforded. Sports are more than scores, injuries, transfers, and trades. They are often a microcosm of the world at large, serving as an analogy of what is going on outside the stadium. They are as full of problems and issues as the real world.
As previously reported in The Daily, there is plenty of racism, sexism, transphobia, and inaccessibility in the world of sports. This is the side of sport that the Sports Section will capture: their political, social, and cultural implications of sport. Here at McGill, and in the world at large, the Sports Section will fight for a fairer and more equal world, according to The Daily’s Statement of Principles.