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I Wish This Was Possible

Political Leaders Should Lead the Way on This

Bob Fescoe
August 05, 2018 - 9:05 am
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“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b#$%^ off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!" And with that speech on a Friday night last September, President Trump forever erased the line between sports and politics and made the cry "Stick to Sports" no longer possible.  America in 2018 isn't the same country as it was just 10 years ago where it was possible to separate sports and politics.  When I first got into this business before the turn of the century, there were a few topics you never touched:  Politics and religion.  As we have evolved as a society, we realize that while we would love to keep everything compartmentalized, that is no longer possible.  Social media, the podcast revolution, you tube and the internet in general has given us a window inside everyone.  While on the surface that would appear to be a good thing, deep down we are finding out things maybe we didn't really want to know about our favorite athletes or actors.  However, those are the times in which we live.

We had done a really good job even with the expansion of the internet and social media to keep politics and sports separate. When Colin Kaepernick peacefully took a knee almost 2 years ago in a football game, America reacted like I had never seen before.  Almost from the jump we had a divide.  Those who supported what Kaepernick did on one side and those who admonished his protest on the other side...and there was no convincing either side of trying to find a middle ground.

Just as we thought the situation had died down and America was moving on to focusing back on sports, the President riled up his base with that speech in Alabama and we were off and running with the controversy again.  Something that was put to rest (kneeling for the anthem. I am not saying our social issues are solved), something that was no longer causing an issue in America when it came to sports, was brought up again for no apparent reason other than to get cheers at a rally in Alabama.  Thus the line of politics and sports was crossed and forced folks to discuss politics when discussing sports.  Since that day in September, the two sides of the Kaepernick issue have grown further apart instead of trying to find ways to come closer together and solve the real issue:  racial inequality.  In fact we are to the point where you can't even discuss this issue without someone gettng mad, angry and storming off.  That is no way to solve issues, it only makes those issues worse.

Sports is supposed to unite.  Leaders of our nation are supposed to unite.  Neither is the case right now.  However, leaders shouldn't use sports to try to divide our nation and that is what appears to be happening.  We all saw it first hand here in KC with Marcus Peters.  Many believe he was traded because he didn't stand for the anthem.  Many are glad the Chiefs traded him for that reason.  This is a perfect example of sports dividing fans and not uniting fans.  But we need our leaders uniting us.  We don't need our leaders dividing us and using sports to be that wedge. LeBron James was on CNN last week and what he says is true.

 

LeBron was appearing on CNN to discuss the new school that he opened in Akron, Ohio.  Called the I Promise School, 240 kids were welcomed by James and his foundation and given the opportunity of a lifetime.  All students will receive:

free tuition, free uniforms, free breakfast, lunch and snacks, free transportation within 2 miles, A free bicycle and helmet, access to a food pantry for their family and guaranteed tuition for all graduates to the University of Akron.  That is pretty steallar and unprecedented.  Talk about using your platform from sports in a good way.  Instead of praising what James and his foundation are doing, a Friday night tweet by the POTUS set off a fire storm.

Division again.  Every NBA player came out in support for James.  Every retired NBA player came out in support for James. The sports world got the back of James. Trump supporters bagged on LeBron.  When someone opens a school and provides what LeBron is providing to kids there should be no negativity at all.  However, there is.  Yes James took a shot at the President when he talked about how he uses sports to divide, but sometimes the leader of the free world just needs to be the bigger person and not say anything at all.  

I wish more athletes were like LeBron.  He's amazing on the floor, he's a quality person off the floor and he's someone that I will be rooting for until he retires.  He's using his platform to help and give folks a better life.  Seems like our leaders could take a lesson from King James.

So here we sit in August of 2018.  The NFL still doesn't know what they are going to do about the National Anthem because their policy from May was just ignorant.  We have a President who divides instead of unites on this issue and we have a country that is divided when it comes to sports and not united.  That is sad.  I miss the times from a decade ago when sports and politics were separate.  However, we now live in the real world where lines are crossed and sports and politics will never be separate again and it makes me wonder "why can't we all just get along"?

 

We discussed this further on Fescoe in the Morning: 

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