As athletes across the United States continue to gain more power in their respective leagues and seek influence off the field, the relationship between politics and sports has evolved.
Golfer Phil Mikelson’s move to Saudi-backed LIV Golf in 2022 drew attention given Saudi Arabia’s history of human rights abuses. During an interview on ‘Life, Liberty & Levin,’ ESPN host Stephen Smith used Mikelson’s decision to argue that there is a hypocritical double standard in sports.
“It’s much easier to blame someone like Phil Mickelson, Gary Player or other people. But our government does business with these people,” Smith told Fox News host Mark Levin. “If they hate you so much and find it so reprehensible to do business with these countries as individuals, then why don’t we hold our government to the same level of responsibility?”
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Fox News contributor Andy McCarthy responded to Smith’s argument on ‘The Big Sunday Show’.
“Governments have to deal with each other in the world, and I don’t think it makes sense to equate governments with how people deal with these regimes now. I think it’s a totally fair criticism that our government has made, they made terrible decisions,” McCarthy said. “But athletes, just like everyone else, if they’re going to speak in public, they need to be educated about what they’re talking about.” .
Many have argued that they do not want to see politics mixed with sports. On the other hand, many argue that athletes, who play a significant role in shaping American pop culture, have a responsibility to use the platforms offered to them.
McCarthy’s co-host, Johnny ‘Joey’ Jones, spoke with the latter.
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“If you’re a viewer sitting at home and not saying anything, or not upset with some of the things that you see in the headlines on Fox News or CNN, but you’re really mad at Phil Mickelson, then maybe you need to take a closer look. understanding of how the world works and understanding that things like this happen everywhere. I think ultimately sports don’t need to get rid of politics,” Jones said.
Mikelson isn’t the only athlete to come under fire. Lebron James and NBA players have come under fire for refusing to be more critical of the league’s relationship with China. James, in particular, has been outspoken about the racial problems plaguing America.
“I have no problem with athletes committing to foreign countries as long as it’s legally okay. But I do have a problem when athletes take advantage of the opportunity they have in America while going abroad or on American soil, bringing down the very country they it gives them the freedom to earn millions or hundreds of millions of dollars in their field,” added co-anchor Katie Pavlich.
Some athletes continue to speak out about global injustices and continue to face the consequences. Former NBA center Enes Kanter Freedom, who called Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has revealed that the Turkish government recently placed a $500,000 bounty on his capture.
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However, Smith said the influence of athletes is too great for them to remain silent on the sidelines.
“With today’s athlete, the money that is invested, the relationships that are cultivated between them and the advertisers and sponsors, they certainly have a right to speak about the state of affairs in our society,” Smith said. “They just need to know what they’re talking about and they need to be impartial when they do it.”