“Eight decades ago, former International Olympic Committee Chairman Avery Brundage stated that politics is “a savage monster” bent on disrupting the purity of sport. Ten years ago, former European Union President Milan Zver stated that “[Sports] is too important to use it as a political instrument.” These are some of the most noteworthy instances of the “stick to sports” sentiment, a phrase that has recently come back into fashion as NFL players started taking knees during the national anthem.
It’s an understandable feeling. If you have played sports non-professionally — which is the vast majority of people who have played sports — your experience of athletic participation is colored as an inherent good, a pastime that cultivates life lessons like sportsmanship, the importance of practice and physical well-being. Thus, it’s only natural for us to think of sports as apolitical; we never had an opportunity to politicize them, even if we wanted to.
Yet sports are undeniably political, if for no other reason than the fact that money is involved…”1