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Sports and Politics: Why These Two Walk Together

After watching the police shooting of Jacob Blake, NBA stopped to honor black voices that were silenced by the police in the United States. Milwaukee Bucks, one of the strong contenders for this NBA season, chose not to play Game 5 as a way of protest. Other teams and players also showed the support, including Los Angeles Lakers’ star LeBron James. Jacob Blake was shot by a policeman from behind seven times in front of his family. The whole incident was caught on video that went viral and started a new wave of protests in the U.S this year.

Back in May, when George Floyd was murdered by the Minneapolis police, other protests were held by players and sports figures, not only in the US, but all around the world. It may seem for some that politics and sports aren’t related at all, meanwhile history tells us otherwise.

History teaches us

In 1936, the Berlin Olympic Games were used by Adolf Hitler, the Chancellor of Germany, to promote his government as tolerant and peaceful. Meanwhile, he was trying to prove that his theories about white supremacy and Aryan racial superiority were right. Defying Hitler, Jesse Owens, a black American athlete, won four gold medals that year.

Another dictatorship that used sports as a way to promote a regime happened at the 1970 World Cup, won by Brazil. The Team known as one of the most charming in history also was the ‘contributor’ of the most repressive period of military dictatorship in Brazil. When Emílio Médici rose to power in 1969, the Team was led by the communist João Saldanha, who was fired a little after, for being against the dictator regime.  

10 years later the dictatorship in the country was still running and society didn’t have the right to vote for its leaders. But, the Brazilian football club Corinthians started a movement as a way of protest. Known as ‘Corinthians Democracy’ the movement consisted in the idea of voting for every decision inside the club. Every officer, every athlete, every support staff had the same decision value. Corinthians, a football club, represented a very intense political force in a time of dictatorship.

Sexism and the LGBTQ+ Community

And, when we talk about sports we picture and talk about men. The sexism inside every social relation is also reflected inside sports, especially when the subject is football. Because of that, women don’t have the same space to practice and cheer for football as men, and that’s why the 2019 Women's World Cup was a political act.

Megan Rapinoe, the co-captain of the U.S women’s national soccer team, made herself known not only by playing good football and winning the fourth World Cup for her country, but also for being an active voice on equality in the field and rights for the LGBTQ+ community.

The Take A Knee Movement

Rapinoe also joined NFL player Colin Kaepernick’s protests against racial inequality in the country by kneeling during the National Anthem on multiple occasions. 

Colin Kaepernick, in another hand, was boycotted by the NFL after showing his activism back in 2016. At the time, he was part of the San Francisco 49ers. After his protest, his contract was broken and every door for any NFL team shot down. 

George Floyd’s murder in May gave Colin Kaepernick’s ‘Take A Knee’ protest a different meaning. While Derek Chauvin took a knee on George Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes — what caused his death —, Kaepernick took a knee to protest against police brutality and racial inequality.


This article was edited by Amanda Oestreich.

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Laura Enchioglo

Casper Libero '22

Journalism student passionate for writing, reading, watching movies and discovering new things.
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